Limerick are in control of Division 1B after a comprehensive victory over an exciting Offaly side. After last weeks heroics over Dublin in Croke Park, much was expected of the Offaly men as they welcomed Limerick to Tullamore. However, a ruthless display from John Kiely’s side saw them come away with a well deserved, 1-24 to 0-10 win.
Limerick led by 0-12 to 0-7 at the break with Aaron Gillane continuing his fine scoring form as he would finish with a personal tally of 1-8. Offaly were reduced to 14 men with twenty minutes remaining after Dermott Short received his marching orders. From there Limerick, eased to a seventeen point victory to put them ahead of Galway on points differential in the table.
Although Limerick were expected to overturn Offaly, the way in which they dominated the Leinster side will certainly be pleasing to Limerick manager John Kiely. Offaly, after their exploits in Croker last week were expected to put it up the Treaty side and tipped by some to come away with a memorable victory.
In recent years, Offaly have been somewhat of a bogey team for Limerick, often pushing the Shannonsiders close and even taking points off them in the past. However, yesterday, Limerick seemed intent from the get go. Despite Offaly performing well in the opening quarter, Limerick were fully deserving of their five point cushion at half time.
Limerick were seven ahead when Short was sent off and showed great class and maturity to keep the scoreboard ticking with their extra man advantage. Aaron Gillane, who has taken to senior inter-county hurling in his stride effectively finished off the game in the 43rd minute after finishing to the net after a fine Barry Murphy solo run.
Kiely will be especially happy with the performance of his defence who limited a strong Offaly attack to just 0-10 throughout the game. In the absence of Declan Hannon and Kyle Hayes, players have stepped into a defensive breach and shown the depth that Kiely is building in the squad.
Next up for Limerick is a Saturday evening clash against Dublin on February 17 in the Gaelic Grounds. Win that and Limerick will be looking at clashes against Antrim and Galway where two more victories would guarantee promotion back to the top tier for the first time since 2010. Dublin improved this weekend against Antrim but have shown weaknesses in both games to suggest they are there for the taking.
Should Galway drop points in their two games prior to the Limerick clash in Pearse Stadium, Limerick’s points differential could come into play with Galway yet to face Dublin and Offaly.
Elsewhere in Division 1B over the past weekend, Dublin needed a 76th minute score from Donal Burke to secure a one point, 0-23 to 0-22 victory over a spirited Antrim to pick up their first win of the year. On Saturday night, a Conor Whelan inspired Galway pushed past a brave Laois side on a scoreline of 2-18 to 0-17.
Consequently, the Division 1B table looks like this now.