Limerick 1-15 Dublin 1-16
National Hurling League Division 1B Final
By Darragh Twomey at Semple Stadium
Dublin were crowned champions of the National Hurling League Division 1B on Saturday night, and more importantly gained promotion to Division 1A, after beating Limerick by a point.
Lucan Sarsfields man Johnny McCaffrey was presented with the trophy in front of a crowd of 3,121 at Semple Stadium.
Dublin trailed their opponents by a point at half-time, a gap which would have been a lot wider only for Limerick’s lack of composure in front of goal.
It was the Tribesmen who got off to the better start, as they went three points ahead of their opponents inside seven minutes.
The first point came courtesy of Kevin Downes after just fifteen seconds of play. Dublin goalkeeper Alan Nolan made a fantastic save from a Graeme Mulcahy goal attempt seconds later, however the Kilmallock clubman earned his side a point as a consolation.
Nolan made yet another vital stop in the fifth minute, but Conor Allis was on call to strike over the resulting sixty-five.
Paul Ryan scored Dublin’s first score of the game in the eighth minute with a free.
The Dubs found their stride and were level after fifteen minutes thanks to points from Conor McCormack and Johnny McCaffrey, the latter being a fantastic side-line cut from thirty-yards out.
Dublin continued to gather momentum as the game progressed, and Simon Lambert showed his confidence as he scored a magnificent point from just inside his own half.
Anthony Daly’s men were four points ahead in the twenty-third minute after Paul Ryan buried a twenty-one-yard free into the top-corner of the net. The goal caused massive confusion, as little or no people actually realised the ball had gone in until the umpire raised his green flag, much to the disliking of the Limerick players.
The Munster men replied immediately with a point from their captain Paude O’Brien. Declan Hannon took over the free taking duities for Limerick after some poor wides from Conor Allis, and he slotted over his free in the twenty-eighth minute, despite the umpire initially signalling wide.
Danny Sutcliffe pointed for Dublin soon later, but the game was level four minutes from the half when Shane Durkin gifted Limerick a twenty-one-yard free for over carrying the ball, and Hannon stepped up to bury the ball into the net.
Dublin gifted Hannon another point from a free when goalkeeper Nolan took down Graeme Mulcahy as he came bearing down on goal, and the in-form net minder was shown a yellow card.
Conor Allis and Paul Ryan exchanged points in injury-time and Limerick went into the break with a 1-7 to 1-6 lead.
The flood-lights were switched on in Semple Stadium for the second-half of this intriguing game. Dublin got off to a flying start, with two Ryan free’s and a David O’Callaghan point giving them the lead yet again.
Seamus Hickey struck back with a point for Limerick five minutes into the half, but this was soon cancelled out by another Ryan free.
The Dubs failed to score again in the next ten minutes, allowing Hannon to score three un-answered points from placed balls, before his team-mates Allis and Mulcahy exchanged points with Dublin talisman Ryan, and substitute Niall NcMorrow mid-way through the half.
Hannon pointed again for his side with a free which was cancelled out by a Ryan free for Dublin seconds later.
Dublin substitute David Treacy brought the game level, and two minutes later his side were ahead when the ever-reliable Paul Ryan struck over yet another free.
However, their lead didn’t last too long as Seamus Hickey pulled it level with a point.
With promotion to the top tier of hurling and a semi-final with Tipperary at stake, the game got very heated as both sets of supporters cheered their sides on.
Three minutes from time, Dublin midfielder Joey Boland got possession of the ball, and he scored what proved to be the winning point as the game finished Dublin 1-16 Limerick 1-15.
Dublin: J Boland (0-1), S Lambert (0-1), J McCaffrey (0-1), D Sutcliffe (0-1), C McCormack (0-1), D O’Callaghan (0-1), D Treacy (0-1), P Ryan (1-8 f), N McMorrow (0-1).
Limerick: P O’Brien (0-1), C Allis (0-3, 0-1 f), S Hickey (0-2), K Downes (0-1), D Hannon (1-6 f), G Mulcahy (0-2).
Dublin: A Nolan, P Kelly, P Schutte, R Trainor, M Carton, L Rushe, S Durkin, J Boland, S Lambert, C Keaney, J McCaffrey, D Sutcliffe, C McCormack, D O’Callaghan, P Ryan, D Treacy, N Corcoran, E Dillon, N McMorrow, R O’Dwyer.
Limerick: N Quaid, S Walsh, R McCarthy, T Condon, P O’Brien, W McNamara, G O’Mahony, P Browne, J Ryan, C Allis, S Hickey, D Breen, K Downes, D Hannon, G Mulcahy, N Moran.