Ryan O’Dwyer’s hat-trick of goals in Thurles propelled Dublin to a first All-Ireland hurling semi-final since 1948.
Dublin beat Limerick by 3-13 to 0-18, with former Tipperary hurler O’Dwyer doing most of the damage before the interval. The Treaty County bossed most of the second half and closed a nine-point deficit to two, but could never get closer and were guilty of some terrible shooting – with 15 wides to Dubln’s six.
Teenager Declan Hannon (0-11) was the star performer for the losers, but O’Dwyer (3-2) and Paul Ryan (0-8) saw Anthony Daly’s men across the winning line.
O’Dwyer’s first-half hat-trick fired the Dubs into a 3-6 to 0-10 interval lead. The winners led by nine points when the No.11 bagged his third major, but Limerick refused to wilt and fired the last four points of the opening period.
Dublin led by five points at the end of the first quarter thanks mainly to a couple of O’Dwyer goals.
Brian Geary got Limerick off to a flying start with a sublime brace of frees from out the field inside the first four minutes: 0-2 to no score. But astute Dublin attacker O’Dwyer – who started at full forward despite wearing No.11 – sidestepped the Treaty County defence to drive an unstoppable shot past an exposed Nicky Quaid on five minutes. It was a big blow for the Munster county as Kevin Downes had blown a goal chance moments earlier.
Young Hannon levelled the scores with a nice point from play 60 seconds later but Ryan’s free instantly restored the Metropolitans’ advantage following a foul on Liam Rushe. In the ninth minute, midfielder Donal O’Grady supplied the equalising point; again a Ryan free put the Sky Blues back in front. Hannon tied it up for the third time as the scores continued to flow at either end.
In the twelfth minute, O’Dwyer stamped his authority on the match in emphatic fashion as he hammered a second goal to the Limerick net, giving Quaid no chance with a scorcher that flew inches below the crossbar: 2-2 to 0-5. And there were four between them when Ryan popped over his first score from play.
Ryan tapped over another free but Dublin weren’t getting to grips with Hannon and the 17-year-old had the freedom of Thurles as he knocked over his third point of the opening quarter, followed by a tidy Rushe score. Conor McCormack missed a goal opportunity for Anthony Daly’s charges but O’Dwyer tagged on a nice point from play to make it 2-6 to 0-6 after 21 minutes.
Gary Maguire made a good save in the Dublin goal to deny Sean Tobin, who had clearly pushed his marker before firing a mis-hit shot goalwards. In the 23rd minute, O’Dwyer completed his first-half hat-trick of goals with a facile tap-in, reacting quickest when Quaid saved from David ‘Dotsy’ O’Callaghan.
Hannon (free) and Downes closed the gap to seven and Niall Moran’s run at the heart of the Dublin defence won another free in front of the posts, which Hannon converted in the 31st minute. That run of three quick points had brought the Shannonsiders back into contention before half time.
Graeme Mulcahy sent a shot wide but a Hannon ’65’ had the margin down to five at the short whistle. Leading by nine, Dublin had looked home and hosed but those four late Treaty County points left things interesting as the sides went in for their half-time refreshments.
Upon the restart, Limerick continued where they had left off with three more quickfire points: Gavin O’Mahoney landed a whopping point from distance; Hannon scored a spectacular point from play off his left side; and the No.12 followed up with a pointed free after a hefty challenge on Downes.
Ryan (free) replied from great distance, with stuttering Dublin’s first score in 18 minutes. Five minutes into the second half, Dublin still led by three, 3-7 to 0-13, but the momentum was with the Treaty men. Two bad wides threatened to spoil things for Limerick… Ryan floated over another free.
The scores dried up and both teams appeared to be treading water until Hannon accelerated through to clip over a 14th Limerick point on 50 minutes. O’Mahoney should have had a Limerick free in front of the posts when he had his arm held, but the referee awarded a free out for overcarrying. At the other end, Ryan won and converted a free to put Dublin four ahead at the start of the final quarter.
Adare clubman Hannon arrowed over his tenth point from a free 16 minutes from time but O’Callaghan responded with a lovely point from play: 3-10 to 0-15. Downes robbed a Dublin back and first-timed an excellent shot between the posts, closing the gap to three as the sun beamed down at Semple Stadium. Hannon (free) closed the gap to two with 14 minutes to go.
Dublin needed a score and right on cue Ryan collected a pass from Rushe to take an excellent point over his shoulder. Hannon went for an equalising goal after spearing through the Dublin defence, but Maguire blocked the shot – maybe the No.12 should have taken his point? On the hour, O’Mahoney drilled over a sublime free from the left wing way out the field, making it a two-point game again.
The match hung in the balance with nine minutes remaining. David Breen and Hannon hit two wides as Limerick struggled to get within a point. Dublin were hanging on by the skin of their teeth and full back Seamus Hickey also struck a wide as full forward Downes scratched his head, wondering why he was being starved of possession.
At the other end, O’Dwyer punctuated a rare Dublin attack with a point. Dublin led by three again with five minutes left. Limerick appeared to have blown it. Unable to make the most of their opportunities, they now needed a goal. Downes flicked Hannon’s sideline cut a couple of feet wide – Limerick’s 14th wide. James Ryan registered another bad wide from out the field.
Play was held up as Man of the Match O’Dwyer received treatment for a nasty head gash, and three minutes of injury time were added. Former Dublin footballer Shane Ryan added the insurance point after coming off the bench and Limerick ran out of time as Dublin progressed to the semi-final stage.
Dublin: G Maguire; N Corcoran, P Kelly, P Schutte; J McCaffrey, J Boland, S Durkin; L Rushe (0-1), M O’Brien; C McCormack, R O’Dwyer (3-2), M Carton; A McCrabbe, D O’Callaghan (0-1), P Ryan (0-8). Subs: D Treacy for McCormack, S Lambert for McCrabbe, D Plunkett for O’Brien, D Sutcliffe for Durkin, S Ryan (0-1) for O’Callaghan.
Limerick: N Quaid; D Moloney, S Hickey, T Condon; W McNamara, B Geary (0-2), G O’Mahony (0-2); D O’Grady (0-1), P Browne; N Moran, J Ryan, D Hannon (0-11); G Mulcahy, K Downes (0-2), S Tobin. Subs: S Walsh for Geary, D Breen for Tobin, R McCarthy for Moran, S Lucey for O’Grady.