Limerick football season over as Laois strike late to win Tailteann Cup quarter-final

By John Keogh Limerick Leader Sport

LIMERICK’S senior footballers season is over following a dramatic afternoon at the TUS Gaelic Grounds where they lost to Laois by 1-14 to 0-14 in the Tailteann Cup quarter-final.

Colm Murphy’s late goal following a mistake in the Limerick defence proved crucial as Limerick let a five-point lead slip in the closing stage.

Mark Fitzgerald’s side were 0-14 to 0-9 ahead with 47 minutes played but failed to score again. They will look back at missing at least five clear goal chances with regret as Laois now march on to Croke Park and the Tailteann Cup semi-final.

Limerick made a lightning fast start to the game with Cathal Downes, Barry Coleman and a James Naughton mark putting them three to the good inside four minutes.

Laois responded with a Mark Barry free, before excellent scores from play by Kieran Lillis and Patrick O’Sullivan saw the game squared up for the first time.

The O’Moore County then hit the front with two fine Evan O’Carroll efforts that had them 0-5 to 0-3 in front with 13 minutes on the clock.

An excellent Cian Sheehan point saw Limerick reduce the lead to one but they could have gone in front when Colm McSweeney went in on goal but instead of shooting, he tried to pass to Naughton and Laois keeper Killian Roche intercepted.

Limerick were soon back on level terms, however, with a Hugh Bourke score after Naughton turned over a kick-out from the Laois netminder.

A Barry effort from play soon had Laois back head and a well-taken Colm Murphy mark restored a two-point advantage. Limerick missed a second goal chance when Cillian Fahy was denied by Roche on 25 minutes and Laois immediately went down the other end with O’Sullivan landing a second excellent point.

Sheehan and Bourke got Limerick back into it either side of a James Finn score and two Naughton frees then saw the score level for a third time in the run up to half time.

Limerick had two further goal chances before the half was done, with Bourke denied by another Roche save, while Brian Donovan failed to hit the target when clean through on goal. Naughton then added a fourth of the half to see Limerick 0-10 to 0-9 up at the break.

The Treaty men continued their resurgence in the opening stages of the second half with efforts from Bourke (2) and Donovan seeing them go four points to the good.

A long-range Naughton free accounted for Limerick’s eighth point on the trot and a 0-14 to 0-9 advantage, before Barry stopped the rot for Laois with their first of the half on 48 minutes.

Another Barry point cut the gap to three soon after and then Limerick spurned another goal chance when half time substitute Robbie Bourke fired just wide from inside the 21-metre line.

O’Carroll then put two between the sides with a close range free and sub Brian Daly then brought it back to one-point with five minutes of regular time remaining.

A mix-up in the Limerick defence was then punished Murphy putting the ball into an empty net to see them into a 1-13 to 0-14 advantage. Roche nailed a late ’45 to seal the victory for Billy Sheehan’s side.

Scorers – Limerick: James Naughton 0-5 (4 frees, 1 mark), Hugh Bourke 0-4 (1 mark), Cian Sheehan 0-2, Cathal Downes, Barry Coleman and Brian Donovan 0-1 each.

Scorers – Laois: Colm Murphy 1-1 (1 mark), Mark Barry 0-4 (2 frees), Evan O’Carroll, 0-3 (1 free, 1 mark), Patrick O’Sullivan 0-2, Kieran Lillis, James Finn, Brian Daly and Killian Roche (’45) 0-1 each.

LIMERICK: Donal O’Sullivan; Jim Liston, Sean O’Dea, Mike Donovan; Barry Coleman, Iain Corbett, Paul Maher; Cathal Downes, Colm McSweeney; Cian Sheehan, Brian Donovan, Cillian Fahy; James Naughton, Hugh Bourke, Darragh Murray.

Subs: Robbie Bourke for Murray (h-t), Tony McCarthy for Maher (45 mins), Adrian Enright for Downes (59 mins), Davey Lyons for Liston (70 mins), Tommy Griffin for McSweeney (75 mins).

LAOIS: Killian Roche; Alex Mohan, Robert Pigott Sean Greene; Patrick O’Sullivan, Mark Timmons, Padraic Kirwan; Kieran Lillis, Darragh Larkin; Mark Barry, Eoin Lowry, James Finn; Evan O’Carroll, Paul Kingston, Colm Murphy.

Subs: Niall Corbett for Kingston (45 mins), Kevin Swayne for Finn (47 mins), Sean O’Flynn for Kirwan (55 mins), Brian Daly for Lowry (61 mins), Damien O’Connor for O’Carroll (71 mins).

REFEREE: Thomas Murphy (Galway).