Billy Lee’s side managed 16 points against Mayo but ultimately it would not be enough as Mayo powered past Limerick on a scoreline of 5-19 to 3-07.
The first opportunity of the game came inside the opening 30 seconds as Josh Ryan was fouled. Ryan stepped up to take the free but hit the post and Mayo cleared the danger.
Cillian O’Connor then had a chance with a relatively easy free but was baldy wide. Limerick worked possession well from the kick out and when Danny Neville was pulled back the referee awarded a penalty.
Up stepped Sean McSweeney to slot the ball low and hard to the keepers left and Limerick had a three point lead.
Mayo responded with three well taken points from Cillian O’Conor who was causing the Limerick backline plenty of problems with his movement and pace. Mayo would squander a goal chance in the 16th minute as Donal O’Sullivan batted away a high ball but O’Connor’s shot was blocked by Gareth Noonan out for a 45.
Cillian O’Connor stepped up to convert the 45 and further points from James Durcan and Aidan O’Shea meant Mayo had a 0-6 to 1-0 lead. Limerick hadn’t scored since the 3rd minute but Ian Corbett finally got his side’s first point from play with a point.
Yet another Cillian O’Connor free made it a 3-point game once again. Limerick were battling, fighting for every ball but struggling to breakdown a physical and organised Mayo defence.
With the clock just past the half hour mark, Mayo would get their first goal fo the game when a loose ball to a fortunate ricochet to Evan Regan who hand passed to Cillian O’Connor. O’Connor made no mistake with the finish.
Further points from Chris Barrett, Colm Boyle and another O’Connor free meant that Mayo would carry a 1-10 to 1-01 lead into the break. Six points of Mayo’s 13 point haul came in the last five minutes of the half and would give Limerick a mountain to climb in the second half.
Danny Neville got the first point of the second half for the home side before Mayo responded with a point from Aidan O’Shea. Limerick then twice hit the post with points attempts before Cillian O’Connor knocked over close range free to ten points once again.
Evan Regan and Josh Ryan (free) then exchange points before Paddy Durcan and Danny Neville did the same. Limerick substitute Seamus O’Carroll then got on the end of a long ball and shot past David Clarke for Limerick’s second goal of the game to make it Limerick 2-4 to 1-14.
Mayo got 3 of the next 4 scores with points from Cian Hanley, Cillian O’Conner (free) and Stephen Coen. Ian Corbett’s fine point was sandwiched in-between but Mayo held a commanding 1-17 to 2-6 lead.
If the floodgates had been just about holding firm, they eventually gave way in devastating fashion in the 61st minute with three goals in as many minutes. Two from Cillian O’Connor who completed his hat-trick and Mayo’s fouth goal of the evening coming via Andy Moran.
Durcan and O’Connor (free) kept turning the screw as Limerick’s resolve was now well and truly broken. Andy Moran got his second and Mayo’s fifth goal as the stadium announcer proclaimed there would be five minutes of injury time.
Limerick would have the last word with a point and a Seamus Carroll goal from the penalty spot but 5-19 to 3-7 can’t hide the difference in class between the divisions. Mayo will look to the next round of the qualifiers draw while for Limerick attention will turn to next year’s league campaign and trying to plot an exit from Division 4.