Strong finish from Limerick denies Antrim place in All-Ireland quarter-finals
Glen Dimplex Senior Championship Group Two: Antrim 1-11 Limerick 1-14
LIMERICK finished strongly in Corrigan Park on Saturday to win by three points and pip Antrim to a quarter-final spot in the Glen Dimplex All-Ireland Senior Championship.
The Munster side had not won a game of any description this year until three weeks ago. They had been relegated from Division One in the league, lost the first round of the Munster championship and then been beaten by Galway and Kilkenny in the opening two games of the All-Ireland.
However, they managed to build up momentum with narrow wins over Offaly and Down in recent weeks and they used that momentum to score the last five points from the 53rd minute onwards to finish third in the group.
Antrim will feel very disappointed because they put themselves into a position to win the game leading from Maedhbh Laverty’s second minute goal until Caoimhe Lyons gave Limerick the lead for the first time after 58 minutes.
With six minutes of added time to play, Antrim had time to recover but Player of the Match Rebecca Delee put the game beyond them with two late points to bring her tally to four.
Laverty’s early goal came after Róisín McCormick’s mishit free dropped short and into a scramble in the Limerick goal area. Caoimhe Wright and Laverty forced the sliotar goalwards with Laverty eventually kicking it to the net.
Antrim built on that great start by going 1-4 to 0-1 ahead after just 10 minutes, three of the points coming from McCormick, only one of those from a free.
However, the visitors were right back in the mix after 13 minutes when a mistake allowed Caoimhe Costello possession to create the extra player and Limerick used her well with the sliotar fed through Caoimhe Lyons for Lorraine McCarthy to fire to the net.
Antrim needed a response and they got it with Caitrin Dobbin involved in three points in three minutes. She was taken down for a McCormick free, then set Caoimhe Wright up for her second score, before splitting the posts herself.
Antrim were 1-7 to 1-2 ahead but didn’t score during the 10 minutes before the break allowing Costello (0-2) and Delee to close the gap to two at the change of ends.
Scoring slowed in the third quarter with only Áine Magill and Wright troubling the score-keepers. Antrim could have added further scores to the their total, but as the half wore on it became a battle around the middle and increasingly Limerick’s physical presence came to the fore with players winning possession and immediately finding someone running off the shoulder.
They outscored Antrim by nine points to two in the final 20 minutes with only Wright and McCormick from a free responding for the Saffrons.
It was a disappointing end to a first campaign at the top level for Antrim that began well in Offaly with a spectacular victory and stuttered a little against Down. While the games against Kilkenny and Galway taught them about life at senior level, Limerick were building a head of steam. The Shannonsiders were able to push on in Corrigan Park and now face Waterford for a place in the last four, while Antrim’s season is finished albeit that they had already secured another season at the top level.
Antrim: C Graham; C Drain, N Donnelly, M Lynn; K Laverty, C Conlon, C Patterson; L McNaughton, N O’Neill; Á Magill (0-1), R McCormack (0-5, 0-3 frees), A Boyle; C Wright (0-4), M Laverty (1-0), C Dobbin (0-1)
Subs: C Laverty for C Dobbin (51), C McArthur for C Wright (55), K McKillop for C Drain (60)
Limerick: C Keating; S Wolfe, M Creamer, M Quaid; M Ryan, S O’Callaghan, N Curtin; N Ryan, A Larkin; M Curtin (0-1), R Delee (0-4,) C Costello (0-6, 0-4 frees); C Lyons (0-2), L McCarthy (1-0), S O’Brien.
Subs: L Boylan 0-1 for S O’Brien (45), C Brennan for L McCarthy (61).
Referee: Philip McDonald (Cavan)