Allianz Football League Division 4 Final – Limerick 0-16 Offaly 1-11

Limerick’s late flurry secures the silverware

By Marie Crowe for the Sunday Independent newspaper

Limerick left it late to seal the deal in the Division 4 final of the Allianz Football League after a tightly fought contest. Offaly got off to the better start, opening the scoring with a point from Ken Casey. Seanie Buckley equalised soon after, but two searing runs from Brian O’Connor set up points for Casey and Brian Darby. Within minutes Limerick were dealt another blow when Ross Brady found the net, giving Offaly a five-point cushion after just 10 minutes. A tough period followed for Limerick and they didn’t get on the scoreboard again until the 17th minute when Ian Ryan converted a free. He followed it up with another minutes later to bridge the gap to four points. But Offaly responded with an expertly taken point from sharp-shooter Niall McNamee.

However, Ryan kicked over another three points, two frees and one from play, to keep his side within touching distance. The momentum swung in Limerick’s favour and Ian Corbett got on the scoresheet with five minutes to go in the first half, narrowing the gap to just one point. Stephen Lavin followed suit with a well-executed score a couple of minutes later to send the teams in level 1-5 to 0-8 at half-time. There was only a point between the two sides when they met in round two in Tullamore and this game looked on course for a similarly close result.

After the break, Stephen Lucey was on target for Limerick but two fantastic points from McNamee edged Offaly in front again. A series of wides from both sides followed before John Riordan tacked over a point to equalise for the table-toppers. Brian O’Connor answered with two fine points, while Limerick rued further wides and with 10 minutes to go they trailed by two. Lavin and Eoghan O’Connor brought the teams level again, making it all to play for in the last five, and a late point from Eoghan O’Connor followed by a ’45’ from Seamus Carroll sealed the deal for Limerick. So, with promotion to Division 3 already secured for the two sides, it’s full speed ahead to championship; both teams are in action in just over a month with Limerick taking on Cork in the Munster championship and Offaly facing Kildare in Leinster.

Scorers – Limerick: I Ryan 0-5 (4f), S Lavin, D O’Connor 0-2 each,I Corbett, S Lucey, T Lee, J Riordan, E O’Connor, S Carroll, S Buckley 0-1 each. Offaly: K Casey (1f), N McNamee 0-4 each, R Brady 1-0, B O’Connor 0-2, B Darby 0-1.

Limerick: D O’Sullivan; L O’Dwyer, M O’Riordan, P Browne; S Lavin, S Lucey, P Ranahan; B O’Brien, J Galvin; J Riordan, T Lee, S Buckley (c); E O’Connor, I Corbett, I Ryan

Subs: D O’Connor for T Lee (56), M Sheehan for S Lucey (57), S 0’Carroll for J Galvin (67), D Tracey for I Ryan (68).

Offaly: A Mulhall; S Pender, P McConway, B Darby; E Carroll, R Brady, M Brazil; R Dalton, A McNamee; G Guilfoyle, B O’Connor, N Darby; A Sullivan, N McNamee, K Casey

Subs: D Kelly for A McNamee (55), W Mulhall for A Sullivan (68).

Referee: C Branagan (Derry)

Team News

The Limerick Senior Football Team to play Offaly in the NFL Division 4 Final in Croke Park next Saturday is announced. John Galvin makes a welcome return from a cruciate knee ligament injury sustained against Fermanagh in April 2012. Donal O’Sullivan is named in goals as Brian Scanlan is carrying a quad injury which he suffered during the Tipperary league game.

1 Donal O’Sullivan

2 Andy Lane

3 Johnny McCarthy

4 Mark O’Riordan

5 Stephen Lavin

6 Paudie Browne

7 Pa Ranahan

8 Bobby O’Brien

9 John Galvin

10 John Riordan

11 Thomas Lee

12 Seanie Buckley Captain

13 Eoghan O’Connor

14 Ger Collins

15 Ian Ryan