Limerick edged out by Louth in Division 2 of the Allianz Football League:

By John Redington Limerick Leader Sport

“YOU have to do it in the seventy minutes,” was manager Ray Dempsey’s reaction as Limerick’s footballers were just edged out by Louth 1-15 to 1-13 in a thrilling finish to their third round Allianz Football League Division Two fixture in Ardee on Sunday.

“Maybe we didn’t attack as much as we could have in the first half but these lads gave it everything they had,” manager Dempsey added.

After drawing the big beasts of the second grade, Derry and Dublin, in their opening fixtures and going down heavily to both, a third setback against their fellow-promotees wasn’t what the visitors wanted as they concentrate on retaining their place in inter-county football’s top half for only the second spell in their history.

Being held level at the break despite the advantage of the wind and shipping six scores without reply on the restart handed the initiative to the Leinstermen but, when their never-say-die pressure finally yielded the goal that brought them back into contact on the three quarter mark, they left the big home support biting their nails before the clock eventually ran down.

While the result shoves all of their four remaining ties into the ‘must win’ category, there were numerous encouraging signs that the squad is adjusting to the new gameplan of the new management.

Even though they were helped by great saves by in the closing minutes, the defence never lost its nerve, not only when they packed back against Louth throwing everything into attack but also when they were hit on the break as they committed bodies forward in the final quarter.

Up front, Hugh Bourke’s first start and Brian Donovan’s first taste of the season added conviction composure to the side’s attacks while Limerick just about shaded the midfield battle over the seventy minutes.

The gusting breeze made it difficult for both sides to measure the kicked delivery but, once Limerick found their range, Colm McSweeney put them ahead although he was immediately met by Tom Jackson.

Another exchange saw Hugh Bourke being met by Ciaran Downey and the host might have felt they’d finally shaken off the tight Limerick marking when Niall Sharkey fly-kicked to the net off Sam Mulroy’s run in from the right but it was disallowed for a square ball and was followed up by another shot coming back off the crossbar.

Limerick mad the most of their escape as quickfire points from Bourke, Cian Sheehan and James Naughton’s free built up a lead of three points but, after Mulroy’s free pulled one back, Louth’s fortunes changed when Daire McConnon’s high shot came back off the upright and straight into Dan Corcoran’s arms to slot to the net.

However, the visitors picked it up again as Adrian Enright equalised. Iain Corbett then gave Limerick the lead and Gordon Brown tacked on another.

Coming up to the break, Peter McStravick left his goalmouth to add to the Leinster side’s attacks and the extra man taking on the screen allowed Mulroy’s free and Peter Lynch to tie the scores up again. Going into added time, McSweeney restored Limerick’s lead only for Mulroy to leave the scores level at 1-5 to 0-8 with the last kick of the first half.

Louth wasted no time on the restart as McConnon had them two ahead inside a minute and, after soaking up a burst of pressure, Mulroy added another two from frees. When Downey and McConnon followed up off breakaway attacks, Limerick looked in danger of being tailed off but, after Naughton’s free providing their first score since the restart, Peter Nash burrowed into challenges and laid off to fellow-sub Brian Donovan to drill to the corner of the net.

McConnon struck back immediately but Limerick kept up the pressure and shaved the margin to the minimum as Naughton sent over another free and, after O’Sullivan brought off a brilliant save to Craig Lennon, Cathal Downes struck on the run.

Tommy Dunne then replied with a point just before O’Sullivan brought off a top-drawer save off him as well before Conal McCool added to the Wee County’s lead. Afrter Nash’s immediae reply, Limerick gave it their all as they looked for the match-winning goal but the packed Louth defence held out long enough in the final three minute frenzy.

SCORERS: LOUTH: Sam Mulroy 0-6 (5 frees), Dan Corcoran 1-0, Daire McConnon 0-3, Tom Jackson, Ciarán Downey, Peter Lynch, Niall Sharkey, Tommy Dunne, Conal McCool 0-1 each; LIMERICK: James Naughton 0-3 (3 frees), Brian Donovan 1-0, Hugh Bourke, Colm McSweeney 0-2 each, Cian Sheehan, Adrian Enright, Iain Corbett, Gordon Brown, Cathal Downes, Peter Nash 0-1 each.

LOUTH: Peter McStravick; Dan Corcoran, Peter Lynch, Donal McKenny; Leonard Grey, Niall Sharkey, Anthony Williams; Conor Early, Ciarán Downey; Tom Jackson, Ciarán Doherty, Conal McKeever; Daire McConnon, Sam Mulroy, Conor Grimes. SUBS: Craig Lennon for Anthony Williams (half-time), Tommy Dunne for Conor Earley (60 minutes), Conal McCool, Ciarán Downey (68 minutes), Bevan Duffy for Conal McKeever (73 minutes).

LIMERICK: Donal O’Sullivan; Dave Connolly, Brian Fanning, Seán O’Dea; Tony McCarthy, Cillian Fahy, Colm McSweeney; Cian Sheehan, Iain Corbett; Paul Maher, James Naughton, Gordon Brown; Adrian Enright, Hugh Bourke. SUBS: Peter Nash for Paul Maher (half-time), Brian Donovan for Adrian Enright (44 minutes), Killian Ryan for Gordon Brown (54 minutes), Mike Donovan for Dave Connolly (60 minutes), Davy Lyons for Tony McCarthy (64 minutes), Jim Liston for Colm McSweeney (injured, 70 minutes).