Thursday 22 March 2018

Bonnar resigns as Limerick reign



Colm Bonnar stepped down as Wexford manager last night after his third season in charge fizzled out in the Gaelic Grounds as Limerick cruised into phase three of the qualifiers. His side were lucky to hold Donal O'Grady's side to their eventual six-point defeat.

Limerick were solid throughout, but an outstanding debut from Declan Hannon and superb performances from both Kevin Downes and Graeme Mulcahy sealed the win for the Treaty men.

After a delay of 10 minutes because of congestion outside the ground, the 14,000 in attendance were treated to a terrific opening half of hurling. But the opening five minutes were frantic, with the Wexford rearguard getting the upper-hand on Limerick who held the early territorial domination. Then Donal O'Grady pointed splendidly from inside his own 65-metre line after some short handpassing from David Moloney found him in space.

Wexford's response was immediate; after full-forward Garreth Sinnott gathered Harry Kehoe's pass down the line he bisected the posts beautifully from the right wing.

Eoin Quigley, who lined out with the number eight on his back, but started at centre-forward, pushed Wexford ahead on eight minutes with a well-struck sideline cut form the right, but seconds later at the other end Limerick should have surged ahead when James Ryan was denied a certain goal thanks to a well-timed block by corner-back Paul Roche.

The sides exchanged scores in the eighth and 11th minutes through Mulcahy and PJ Nolan, but Limerick soon gained the upper hand around their half-back line and started to dominate.

The home side went on to strike six points from the 18th to the 27th minute, in which time a solitary Quigley score was all Wexford could muster. After missing out on the Munster semi-final because he was sitting his Leaving Cert, Limerick debutant Hannon struck the first from a free, which was quickly followed by a well-worked move which was finished by Niall Moran on the run.

Full-forward Kevin Downes had been well marshalled by Matthew O'Hanlon from the off, but after 22 minutes he struck the score of the half off his hurl from the left touchline to give Limerick a 0-6 to 0-4 lead.

That advantage was pushed out to four points when Hannon hit a super sideline cut, but on the half-hour mark Wexford closed to within one when Quigley ran on to a sweet pass from Sinnott and bundled the ball past Nicky Quaid at the second attempt.

But with Downes becoming more and more involved in the play, Limerick pulled away before the break and four more points before half-time saw them lead 0-11 to 1-6 at the break.

But the half-time break failed to interrupt the Limerick charge and less than 20 seconds after the restart Mulcahy goaled.

James Ryan picked the pocket of the unfortunate Darren Stamp and laid off a perfect pass into the path of Mulcahy who made no mistake from close in.

Nolan hit back for Wexford, but the star of the moment, Mulcahy, brought the home side's advantage back to five with a point from play.

Further points from Hannon and Tobin increased Limerick's lead to seven before Harry Kehoe and Rory Jacob tried their best to instigate a Wexford revival with points.

Jacob was denied a goal thanks to a combination of Quaid and Condon and soon after, four on the trot including a terrific point from Mulcahy, gave Limerick a nine-point lead with a quarter of an hour remaining.

And any slim hopes of a Yellowbellies late surge were brought to a shuddering halt when Paul Roche was shown a straight red card by referee Michael Wadding after an altercation with Mulcahy off the ball.

And after Hannon added two more late points for Limerick, a goal from Jacob with the last stroke of the game was a mere consolation.

Scorers -- Limerick: G Mulcahy 1-4, D Hannon 0-9 (5f), N Moran 0-3, D O'Grady 0-2, S Tobin, K Downes, M O'Riordan, T O'Brien 0-1 each. Wexford: R Jacob, E Quigley 1-2 each, G Sinnott 0-3, PJ Nolan 0-2, D Redmond, K Rossiter, H Kehoe, E Martin 0-1 each

Limerick: N Quaid; D Moloney, S Hickey, T Condon; W McNamara, B Geary, G O'Mahoney; D O'Grady, P Browne; N Moran, J Ryan, D Hannon; G Mulcahy, K Downes, S Tobin. Subs: M O'Riordan for Browne 44, S Walsh for Condon 50, T O'Brien for Tobin, 57, D Ryan for Mulcahy 65, D Breen for Geary 69

Wexford: N Breen; P Roche, M O'Hanlon, K Rossiter; L Prendergast, D Stamp, M Jacob; M Travers, H Kehoe; PJ Nolan, E Quigley, S Banville; R Jacob, G Sinnott, J Berry. Subs: C Farrell for Travers 47, D Redmond for Quigley 55, B Doyle for Berry 58, E Martin for Kehoe, 71

Referee: M Wadding (Waterford)

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