DUBLIN 3-13 LIMERICK 0-18
A Ryan O’Dwyer hat-trick saw Dublin book their seat for the All-Ireland SHC semi-final for the first time since 1948 following a hard-fought quarter-final victory at Semple Stadium, Thurles on Sunday afternoon.
The Dubs have won two provincial tiles since 48 but on both those occasions (1952 and 61) they advanced straight to the All-Ireland decider.
The Kilmacud Crokes clubman grabbed all three goals in the opening half and it was his opportunism that separated the sides as the Dubs struggled to finish off Limerick despite leading by nine points after 24 minutes.
The opening goal arrived in the fifth minute when ODwyer showed good footwork to create the opening to fire past Nicky Quaid. However, the sides were level 1-2 to 0-5 before the Crokes man struck for this second a bullet to the roof of the net from 14 metres after being picked out by a superb Alan McCrabbe crossfield pass.
Eleven minutes before the interval ODwyer was in the right place at the right time to apply the finish after David OCallaghan did the preparatory work to push Dublin 3-6 to 0-6 clear in the 24th minute.
But Limerick closed out the half on top with four points three placed balls from wing-forward Declan Hannon and another from full-forward Kevin Downes to leave five points separating the sides at the half-time interval, 3-6 to 0-10.
The Shannonsiders held the momentum on the restart and their deployment of an extra defender frustrated the Dublin attack who found it near impossible to either retain possession or create scoring opportunities from play.
In fact, it was the freetaking of Paul Ryan which eventually settled Dublin after Limerick had whittled the lead back to just two points thanks to scores from Gavin OMahoney (free) and two scores from Hannon (one free).
Dublin needed to break the Limerick sequence of scores and thankfully Paul Ryan struck over a beauty from 80 metres and followed up with another from 55 metres out to help alleviate some of the growing pressure Dublin were finding themselves under.
As the half wore on Limerick failed to turn some very promising positions into scores and will be rueing a succession of wides when they had the Dubs under the cosh but Dublins full-back line, and Peter Kelly in particular, looked to have the measure of their direct opponents and came to the rescue of Anthony Dalys men on several occasions.
At the other end David Treacy made a positive impact after being introduced as a second half sub and contributed a fine point while scores from man of the match Ryan ODwyer and sub Shane Ryan were the insurance scores that see the Dubs progress to meet reigning All-Ireland champions, Tipperary, in Croke Park on Sunday, August 14.
O’Dwyer’s point was a great individual effort which encapsulated both his influence on the game and his will to win on an afternoon to remember for Dublin hurling.
SCORERS Dublin: R ODwyer 3-2, P Ryan 0-8 (0-6f), L Rushe, D OCallaghan, S Ryan 0-1 each. Limerick: D Hannon 0-11 (0-5f, 0-1 65), B Geary (0-2f), G OMahoney (0-2f), K Downes 0-2 each, D OGrady 0-1
DUBLIN – G Maguire; N Corcoran, P Kelly, P Schutte; S Durkin, J Boland, M Carton; J McCaffrey, M OBrien; C McCormack, A McCrabbe, L Rushe; D OCallaghan, R ODwyer, P Ryan. Subs: D Treacy for McCormack (32), S Lambert for McCrabbe (44), D Plunkett for OBrien (51), D Sutcliffe for Durkin (60), S Ryan for OCallaghan (66), D Curtin (blood sub) for ODwyer (69).
LIMERICK – N Quaid; D Moloney, S Hickey, T Condon; W McNamara, B Geary, G OMahoney; D OGrady, P Browne; N Moran, D Hannon, J Ryan; S Tobin, K Downes, G Mulcahy. Subs: S Walsh for Geary (26), D Breen for Tobin (49), R McCarthy for Moran (54), S Lucey for OGrady (67).
REF B Gavin (Offaly).