All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Qualifiers – Limerick 2-6 Antrim 0-9

Limerick defeated Antrim by 2-6 to 0-9 in Round 1B of the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Qualifiers on Saturday June 25th at Corrigan Park Belfast.


Round 1B Qualifier: Limerick defeat Antrim

All Ireland Football Round 1B Qualifier

Limerick 2-6 Antrim 0-9

By Declan Rooney at Corrigan Park for GAA.ie

Three excellent saves from Limerick goalkeeper Donal O’Sullivan helped John Brudair’s side to their first win in 12 competitive games. Goals from Ian Ryan and Sean McSweeney against the wind in the opening eight minutes proved crucial for Limerick, who looked the better side throughout.

Limerick led by 2-2 to 0-6 at the interval, but crucially they held Antrim to three frees in the second half and they now can plan for Round 2B in a fortnight’s time. With a very strong wind at their backs in the first half Antrim got off to an impressive start and a free from Ryan Murphy after 40 seconds and a Kevin Niblock score from the right had saw the home side into a 0-2 to 0-0 lead.

But McSweeney settled his side with a fine free into the teeth of the wind from around the 45 metre line after four minutes. And Brudair’s side received a huge boost a minute later when Seanie Buckley picked out Ryan at the edge of the square and the St Senan’s man hit the net with a low shot past Chris Kerr.

It only took Limerick another three minute to find the net for a second time from McSweeney’s penalty. Midfielder Darragh Treacy was fouled when he managed to creep in behind the Antrim cover, and McSweeney tucked his kick into the bottom right corner for a 2-1 to 0-2 lead for the Treaty men. Matthew Fitzpatrick found the range with a good score from the right in the 13th minute – maybe he could have gone for goal – and four minutes later Patrick McBride kicked his side’s fourth point to cut the gap to three points.

Thomas Childs was a late introduction for injured Limerick captain Iain Corbett, and he set up a fine score from the right for Ryan after 18 minutes. Ryan had a great chance for his second goal nine minutes from time when he got up ahead of substitute Martin Johnson, only for Kerr to deny him with a great save with his feet. And Antrim then finished the half strongly and McBride and Sean Burke pointed to make it 2-2 to 0-6 at the interval.

Armed with a two-point lead and a strengthening wind at their back, Limerick were bright from the off in the second period and after some solid defensive play, it was corner-back Cahill that extended their lead to three in the 44th minute. After shooting just six points in 50 minutes Antrim were always going to need a goal to launch a comeback and that chance came to Martin Johnson as he cut in from the right, but Donal O’Sullivan pulled off a super save to keep his goal intact.

The introduction of Tomas McCann gave Antrim a much needed injection of pace up front and he followed a free from Ryan Murray with one of his own to cut the Limerick lead to two points with nine minutes remaining. A free from Ryan gave Limerick a three-point cushion, but Limerick had O’Sullivan to thank on two occasions in the closing five minutes when he denied Ryan Murray and Martin Johnson with great saves, but despite a late Niblock free Limerick held on for a memorable win.

Scorers for Limerick: S McSweeney 1-3 (1-0 pen, 3fs), I Ryan 1-2 (1f), S Cahill 0-1.

Scorers for Antrim: R Murray 0-2 (2f), P McBride 0-2, K Niblock 0-2 (1f), M Fitzpatrick, S Burke, T McCann (1f) 0-1.

Limerick: D O’Sullivan; P Browne, S Cahill, S O’Dea; B Fanning, J McCarthy, P Ranahan; D Treacy, S Buckley; G Noonan, P Nash, T Childs; S McSweeney, I Ryan (c), H Bourke
Subs: E Hogan for Bourke (50), P Hannon for Nash (63), I Corbett for Childs (66).

Antrim: C Kerr; K O’Boyle, J Crozier, R Johnson; P McBride, P Gallagher, M Sweeney; S McVeigh, M McCann; J Laverty, M Fitzpatrick, K Niblock (c); R Murray, N McKeever, S Burke
Subs: M Johnson for McVeigh (20), D McAleese for Laverty (30), C Murray for Gallagher (h-t), P McAleer for R Johnson (h-t), T McCann for McKeever (56), J Carron for Burke (66).

Referee: S Hurson (Tyrone)


Team News


ANTRIM v LIMERICK
They meet for the second time in the championship, with Limerick having won their first encounter by 3-11 to 0-15 at the Gaelic Grounds in a Round 1 Qualifier clash in 2014. Ger Collins (2-0), Ian Ryan (0-4) and Darragh Treacy (1-0) were Limerick’s top scorers while Paddy Cunningham (0-7) was Antrim’s main marksman. Limerick were relegated from Division 3 this year while Antrim were promoted from Division 4.

HOW THEY GOT HERE
Clare 0-16 Limerick 0-13 (Munster quarter-final)
Fermanagh 1-12 Antrim 0-9 (Ulster preliminary round)

DID YOU KNOW?
Limerick are seeking their first win of the year, having had ten outings. They lost their two games in the McGrath Cup, lost six and drew one of seven Allianz League (Div 3) games, before going down to Clare in the Munster quarter-final.

LAST YEAR’S QUALIFIERS
Tyrone 1-14 Limerick 0-8 (Round 1B)
Antrim 2-15 Laois 1-16 (Round 1A)
Fermanagh 1-21 Antrim 0-11 (Round 2A)

THE ROAD AHEAD
The winners advance to Round 2B on July 9; the season will be over for the losers.