Dublin 3-13 Limerick 0-18
Dublin have qualified for the semi-finals of the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship for the first time since 1948 following a 3-13 to 0-18 defeat of Limerick at Semple Stadium, Thurles on Sunday afternoon.
Ryan O’Dwyer claimed a first-half hat-trick and added two points from play as the Dubs hung on for a famous win in the second half despite a strong Limerick comeback.
O’Dwyer’s heroics gave the Dubs a 3-6 to 0-10 half-time lead, but Donal O’Grady’s side had pared that advantage back to just two points with eight minutes remaining.
However, the Allianz Hurling League champions showed tremendous composure in the closing stages to hit the final two points of the game, Shane Ryan and O’Dwyer on target, to ease to a four-point win.
Limerick, though, will rue the fact that they hit an alarming 15 wides throughout the game and failed to take an abundance of chances in the second half especially.
They were also in defensive disarray in the first 24 minutes, as O’Dwyer ran riot at full-forward, scoring three goals, before a defensive reshuffle from manager Donal O’Grady settled them at the back.
Declan Hannon hit 0-11 of Limerick’s total, but Donal O’Grady and Kevin Downes were the only other green-clad players to get on the scoresheet from play.
Two frees from Brian Geary in the first four minutes gave Limerick the perfect start, but O’Dwyer struck for the first of his three goals in the fifth minute, pouncing on a loose ball after Tom Condon had slipped and sweeping a shot past Nicky Quaid. Paul Ryan tagged on a free immediately to hammer home that early advantage.
However, Hannon was having some luck in picking up breaking ball in the half-forward line for Limerick and he picked off two points from play before Dublin struck for a second goal.
Donal O’Grady’s side were struggling at the back, especially with the aggressive Tipperary man, who took a brilliant crossfield pass from Alan McCrabbe 13 yards out and fired a shot high and beyond Quaid.
Two more frees and a pair of points from play from Liam Rushe and O’Dwyer put Dublin two points clear before Limerick centre-back Brian Geary, who had struggled with the pace of Alan McCrabbe on the ’40, had his pocket picked and was stripped of the ball. McCrabbe bore down on goal but his shot was saved and O’Dwyer was on hand once again to finish smartly to complete his hat-trick.
A minute earlier, Dublin goalkeeper Gary Maguire had denied Seán Tobin with a brilliant save, but Dublin appeared to be getting all the breaks in the first-half. O’Grady, the Limerick manager, recognised that there was a little more than bad luck involved and immediately substituted Geary, with Stephen Walsh coming on in his place.
Nine points down, Limerick needed a response before the break to avoid a chastening second half. They got it. Three placed balls from Hannon and Kevin Downes’ first of the afternoon ensured they hit four points without reply and had shaved the deficit back to a more manageable six points at half-time, 3-6 to 0-10.
Limerick started the second half with a bang, captain O’Mahoney and Hannon (2) reducing the gap all the way back to two points within three minutes of the restart. The Treaty men has hit seven without reply and Dublin appeared to be in grave trouble.
However, two Paul Ryan frees steadied Dublin, although it was clear that McCrabbe was having less of an influence and he was taken off after 44 minutes.
Limerick, despite an abundance of possession, could never quite reel Dublin back in, as David O’Callaghan and Ryan managed to find scores against the run of play.
When the Limerick skipper O’Mahoney sent over a free in the 62nd minute, the gap was back down to two, but O’Dwyer brought his tally to 3-2 with a fine score from play and former footballer Shane Ryan knocked over the insurance score in added time.
Limerick Scorers: B Geary 0-2 (0-2f), D Hannon 0-11 (0-4f, 0-1 ‘65), D O’Grady 0-1, K Downes 0-2, G O’Mahoney 0-2 (0-2f)
Dublin Scorers: R O’Dwyer 3-2, P Ryan 0-8 (0-6f), L Rushe 0-1, D O’Callaghan 0-1, S Ryan 0-1.
Dublin: G Maguire, N Corcoran, P Kelly, P Schutte, J Boland, L Rushe, S Durkin, J McCaffrey, P Carton, C McCormack, M O’Brien, A McCrabbe, D O’Callaghan, R O’Dwyer, P Ryan. Subs: D Treacy for C McCormack (32), S Lambert for A McCrabbe (44), D Plunkett for M O’Brien (51), D Sutcliffe for S Lambert (59), S Ryan for D O’Callaghan (66).
Limerick: N Quaid; D Moloney, S Hickey, T Condon; W McNamara, B Geary, G O’Mahoney; D O’Grady, P Browne; N Moran, J Ryan, D Hannon; G Mulcahy, K Downes, S Tobin. Subs: S Walsh for B Geary (26), D Breen for S Tobin (49), R McCarthy for N Moran (53), S Lucey for D O’Grady (66).
Referee: Brian Gavin (Offaly)