Limerick 6-21 Laois 1-11
Limerick goalkeeper Nickie Quaid emerged for the second half in the Gaelic Grounds on Saturday night sporting a bulky jacket he hadn’t worn in the first half because standing around idle is one sure way to pick up a cold.
That’s how one-sided this preliminary round clash was, and in truth, he could have brought a chair and slippers with him too if he was of a mind. Even manager John Allen was surprised at how easily his side ripped through the Midlanders.
“We played them in the league earlier in the year and there wasn’t that much in it: it was a competitive game. Obviously we were in different stages of preparation [then].
“It was good to get a game where you’re missing two of the forwards that started the last day, with Declan Hannon and Seamus Hickey missing. It gave us a chance to see other players; we know now it is not 15, it is 20 and 30 [man game]. It was good to see the other players.”
Hannon was prevented from starting by a recurrence of a groin injury picked up in training recently but the hulking Adare man, who won’t be 20 until November, came on to a huge ovation and capped a fine 25-minute cameo at right-half forward with two exquisite points, and little wonder Allen was content afterwards.
“You heard the reaction Declan Hannon got when he came on,” explained the Cork man. “He is an exciting player that has been plagued with injury and it is great to see him back again and getting another game under his belt. Hopefully with another week [behind him] he can be better again.”
The game itself was a non-event but Allen suggested it was a welcome and stress-free workout compared to the trauma that enveloped the squad following their exit from the Munster championship at the hands of Tipperary.
“It was a game that was a rite of passage. You had to win it to get on to play Antrim the next night. You never know where you stand when you are preparing for a month. We were so good for so long against Tipperary, you just don’t know how you will perform a month later. But it was good to get off to a good start.”
The game was over as a contest by the 24th minute when Niall Moran — replacing the injured Kevin Downes, gathered possession under the covered stand, skinned his marker and lashed home their second goal for a 2-8 to 0-1 lead.
From there to the finish, it was merely an audition for places but Moran was keen to play the lead role and he gave John Allen plenty to think about ahead of the Antrim game after he crashed home a hat-trick, showed a touch of magic in setting up Shane Dowling for their fifth goal with an overhead flick and proving a real handful at full-forward.
In contrast, Laois manager Teddy McCarthy wasn’t exactly for chit-chat at the final whistle.
“It was poor, a very poor performance. We didn’t come down to play like that,” offered the Cork legend.
Asked if he’d stay on as manager, his response was brief. “Well that’s up to the county board. It (tenure) will be reviewed after every 12 months.”
He did admit, however, that he’d like to stay on and suggested that the U21s are showing promise, several of whom started on Saturday night, and all might not be as bleak in the county as their hammerings in this year’s championship have suggested.
“Time will tell. They are into a semi-final and a final, but they have nothing won yet. But look they are going in the right direction.”
The second period was very much academic yet Limerick never eased off and with Tom Condon marshalling the defence superbly, any whiff of a Laois attack was usually revoked. Laois were too reliant on their captain and talisman Willie Hyland who finished with 1-10 and he was the only chink of light on a truly dark night for Laois hurling.
Scorers for Limerick: S Dowling 1-8 (0-6f, 0-1 65’), N Moran 3-1, G Mulcahy 0-4, D Breen, T Quaid (1-1) each, D Hannon 0-2, S Tobin, P O’Brien, J Ryan, T O’Brien (0-1) each.
Scorers for Laois: W Hyland 1-10 (0-6f, 0-1 65’), S Maher 0-1.
Subs for Limerick: P O’Brien for P Browne inj. (25), D Hannon for S Tobin (45), S O’Neill for T Condon (50), T O’Brien for B Geary (51), T Quaid for G Mulcahy (57).
Subs for Laois: A Collier for S Hanlon (h/t), B Reddin for T Fitzgerald (h/t), D Peacock for W Dunphy (50), S Lowry for B Reddin (56).
Referee: M Wadding (Waterford).
By Brian Canty, Examiner.ie