Limerick stage late comeback to win division four
Limerick 0-16 Offaly 1-11
Limerick kicked the last four points to win the division four league title against Offaly at Croke Park.
After a pulsating battle the honours looked to be heading to Offaly when Ken Casey kicked them two points clear with 11 minutes remaining.
But with John Galvin and Ian Ryan both leaving the field injured in the closing stages, substitutes Derry O'Connor and Seamus O'Carroll stepped forward to land crucial scores to clinch the win for Maurice Horan's side, who had 10 different scorers.
A feature of much of Limerick's division four campaign has been their ability to avoid the concession of kickable frees under severe pressure.
And Offaly's first point from a dead ball didn't arrive until 59th minute – their last score of the game – and it was a good job that the Treaty men were in a mean mood as early on Emmett McDonnell's side looked like they were going to run riot.
After Casey and Iain Corbett exchanged early scores – Casey's arrived after just 13 seconds – the midlanders began to display the form up front that saw them gain promotion, while at the back they were also managing to keep it tight.
Offaly were having particular success driving through the heart of the Limerick defence and they were unable to silence the influence of Brian Connor at centre-forward.
He firstly set up Casey for his second score in the sixth minute, before laying another score on for corner-back Niall Darby.
But a crucial score arrived 12 minutes in, when Ross Brady ploughed through the middle to collect Niall McNamee's clever pass and finished low past Donal O'Sullivan.
The Rhode sharpshooter kicked a point of his own a minute later to give Offaly a 1-4 to 0-1 advantage, but they would only shoot one more point before the break and Limerick gradually gained confidence.
As so often before, it was Ian Ryan that kicked Limerick into form, and by the time he landed his first point from play in the 29th minute, he had already reeled off four frees as the sides went in level at the break at 1-5 to 0-8.
A Stephen Lucey point gave Limerick the lead for the first time a minute after the restart, but that was immediately followed by two Niall McNamee specials to return the advantage to Offaly.
Substitute Derry O'Connor made an immediate impact for Limerick with a super point ten seconds after his introduction and he added another six minutes from time to level the game once again, but O'Carroll landed a late 45 to seal the win for Limerick.
Scorers for Limerick: I Ryan 0-5 (4f), S Lavin 0-2, D O'Connor 0-2, I Corbett, T Lee, S O'Carroll (45), J Riordan, E O'Connor, S Buckley, S Lucey 0-1 each.
Offaly: N McNamee 0-4, K Casey 0-4 (3f), R Brady 1-0, B Connor 0-2, B Darby 0-1.
LIMERICK: D O’Sullivan; L O'Dwyer, S Lucey, M O’Riordan; S Lavin, P Browne, P Ranahan; J Galvin, B O’Brien; S Buckley, T Lee, J Riordan; D O’Connor, I Corbett, I Ryan.
Subs: D O'Connor for Lee (57), M Sheehan for Lucey (58), S O'Carroll for Galvin (67), D Treacy for Ryan (69).
OFFALY: A Mulhall; P McConway, R Brady, B Darby; E Carroll, S Pender, M Brazil; A McNamee, R Dalton; G Guilfoyle, B Connor, A Sullivan; N Darby, N McNamee, K Casey.
Subs: D Kelly for A McNamee (56), W Mulhall for Sullivan (68),
Referee: Ciaran Branagan (Down).
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