Allen trumpets Treaty's on-song attacking trio
LIMERICK 1-21 DUBLIN 1-15
The impressive attacking axis of Declan Hannon, Graeme Mulcahy and Kevin Downes came up trumps for Limerick at Croke Park as the Treaty County produced a sterling final-quarter performance to move two points clear at the top of the table with a confidence-boosting victory over 14-man Dublin.
Limerick chief John Allen was delighted with the contribution of his prized triumvirate, and was also pleased to come away with a third consecutive triumph given the nature of the game.
"Kevin Downes has threatened in training and has been very impressive in training.
"I was especially delighted for him. Graeme, as we saw last year, is a lethal finisher. Declan Hannon has as much hurling as anyone in the country really. It was great to see those fellas doing so well," Allen stated afterwards.
"Overall, this was the key game for Dublin and ourselves. We would have been seen as the strongest teams in the division.
"We still both have to win our next two games, but winning today was hugely important."
The eventual outcome had looked unlikely for much of the opening half.
Despite passing up a number of goal-scoring chances, a brace of points from Joey Boland and Paul Ryan, along with one each from goalkeeper Alan Nolan (free), David O'Callaghan, Danny Sutcliffe and Johnny Caffrey, moved the 2011 league champions into a fully merited six-point lead on 27 minutes.
However, five consecutive scores from Hannon (three), Downes and Paul Browne left the bare minimum (0-8 to 0-7) between the teams at the interval.
A 39th-minute goal by Conor McCormack looked like it would give Dublin the impetus they needed, but contributions from Mulcahy, Downes, substitute Niall Moran and Hannon kept the Munster men in touch, and they received a further boost 19 minutes from time when Dublin's Ryan was issued with a straight red-card following an off-the-ball incident with Tom Condon.
This offered Limerick a lifeline at a vital juncture, and they found themselves four to the good by the 58th minute courtesy of points from Browne, Downes and Hannon, and a clinical major from Mulcahy.
Dublin were suddenly playing catch-up, and even though Sutcliffe and Nolan (free) cut into their deficit, a resurgent Limerick finished in devastating fashion, as three scores from the outstanding Hannon, and one apiece from Mulcahy and Moran, secured their triumph.
This defeat is certainly a set-back for promotion-chasing Dublin, but although manager Anthony Daly did rue some of their missed opportunities, he was eager to state that the minds of the players and management are now focused on crucial games against Wexford and Carlow.
"There's two big games left, Wexford and Carlow. If we win both of them, we've a great chance of being in the final," Daly remarked.
"That was our target starting off and the target remains.
"We just said it in there now, it's about picking up the heads for Tuesday night.
"We're ready to meet the challenge of Wexford, and it's going to be a huge challenge."
Man of the match: D Hannon (Limerick)
SCORERS – Limerick: D Hannon 0-9 (6f), G Mulcahy 1-3, K Downes 0-4, P Browne, N Moran 0-2 each, P O'Brien 0-1. Dublin: C McCormack 1-1, J Boland 0-4, P Ryan 0-3 (1f), A Nolan (2f), D Sutcliffe 0-2 each, C Keaney, J McCaffrey, D O'Callaghan 0-1 each.
LIMERICK – N Quaid 7; S Walsh 7, R McCarthy 7, T Condon 7; P O'Brien 7, W McNamara 7, G O'Mahony 7; P Browne 7, J Ryan 7; D Hannon 8, S Hickey 6, D Breen 7, K Downes 8, S Dowling 5, G Mulcahy 8. Subs: N Moran 7 for Dowling (h-t), C Allis for Hickey (69), S Tobin for Mulcahy (72), C King for Ryan (73).
DUBLIN – A Nolan 7; P Kelly 6, P Schutte 7, R Trainor 6; M Carton 7, L Rushe 7, S Lambert 7; J Boland 8, K Byrne 6; C Keaney 7, J McCaffrey 7, D Sutcliffe 7; P Ryan 7, C McCormack 7, D O'Callaghan 6. Subs: J Doughan 6 for Schutte (47), S Durkin 6 for Byrne (50), D Treacy 6 for McCaffrey (58), E Dillon 6 for O'Callaghan (61), S McGrath for McCormack (70).
REF – J Owens (Wexford).