Free Scoring, Breathing Room & Squad Depth | Talking Points as Limerick secure Tailteann Cup quarter-final berth

It also means the Treaty men get a bye in the preliminary quarter finals as we look at the talking points from the Netwatch Cullen Park win.

Limerick made it two from two in the Tailteann Cup with a comfortable 1-19 to 0-14 win away to Carlow over the weekend. The victory puts Mark Fitzgerald’s men into the quarter-finals with a game to spare.

The Shannonsiders dominated for large periods of the game but found themselves level at the interval following a flurry of scores form the hosts. But 1-5 without reply after the break pulled Limerick into an advantage they wouldn’t relinquish to book their place in the last eight.

Limerick will take on Wicklow in the final round next Sunday week with nothing to play for on either side with the Leinster side eliminated from the reckoning and Limerick already guaranteed first spot.

It also means the Treaty men get a bye in the preliminary quarter finals as we look at the talking points from the Netwatch Cullen Park win.

Free Scoring Treaty

For the second game running, Limerick reached the 22-point mark with both point tallies enough for victories to kick start the Tailteann Cup campaign. Against Longford, Limerick kicked 2-16 while their total was 1-19 at the weekend. An impressive return from both games, the Shannonsiders are hitting their groove in the second tier competition. What was a major concern to start the season, has become a huge positive in recent weeks.

The Treaty men had just four points in the first round defeat to Derry back in January before concluding their campaign with a lowly 0-9 against Clare in Ennis. In between, there were some decent scores registered but it wasn’t enough and that would have also been the case against Longford had they not registered a seasonal high. But Fitzgerald’s men seem to have grown since the league campaign with a hugely respectable 0-16 posted against Clare in the provincial semi-final loss before the high scoring Tailteann efforts.

What will be more pleasing to Fitzgerald and co is the number of players contributing to the scoreboard. Against Carlow, nine players hit the target with four of those in midfield or defence. Jim Liston, operating at centre back, kicked their opener while Paul Maher had the games only goal. Midfield duo Cathal Downes and Cillian Fahy both chipped in while the Bourke brothers Robbie and Hugh found the mark from the bench. James Naughton continued to shoot the lights out with 0-7 (five frees) while Peter Nash had a field day in the second period, helping himself to five from play. The squad will be confident that similar return against any other side in the championship would be enough to secure the result.

22 April 2023; James Naughton of Limerick during the Munster GAA Football Senior Championship Semi-Final match between Limerick and Clare at TUS Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. Photo by Tom Beary/Sportsfile

Next up is a lowly Wicklow and while changes to the sides will be expected, Limerick will be keen to continue their positive scoring return.

Returns Bolster the Squad

One of the main points to emerge from Fitzgerald’s team announcement on Thursday evening was the news that Iain Corbett was fit to start from the bench. The Newcastle West native, who is joint captain and also the longest serving member of the side alongside Donal O’Sullivan, had missed the first round clash with Longford and could only manage a half in the Munster semi-final loss. He was introduced at half time and will hopeful for a straightforward return to the starting fold as the competition intensifies.

Elsewhere, Robbie Bourke made his long awaited return and unsurprisingly found the target on his introduction. The Adare man was a key component to the side in recent years and often took up the free taking mantle with his long range efforts a staple. The game came too soon for Killian Ryan but suddenly the squad looks to be in supreme shape approaching the business end of the season. St Senan’s Cormac Woulfe made his championship debut after graduating from last year’s U20 side while Darragh Murray, who featured at the grade earlier this season, made his debut in the win over Longford.

30 April 2022; Robbie Bourke of Limerick, left, celebrates after scoring his side’s second goal, in extra-time, during the Munster GAA Senior Football Championship Quarter-Final match between Clare and Limerick at Cusack Park in Ennis, Clare. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

The fact that Limerick picked up the eight point win without Gordon Brown and Davy Lyons, both of whom featured in the Munster semi-final, shows where the competition level is at within the squad while Tommy Griffin, who kicked a score against Longford, was also kept in reserve.

It is a positive headache selection for Fitzgerald and co with competitive spirits surely high in the Limerick camp.

Carlow Win Gives Breathing Room

Another positive to come from the win in Netwatch Cullen Park is the fact that Limerick now know they are safe from any danger in the Tailteann Cup with no jeopardy for them in the Portlaoise meeting with Wicklow. It also ensures more time for Limerick to develop as they will skip the preliminary quarter-final stage. Following the clash with Wicklow, Limerick will have a two week break to their quarter-final tie with their opponent coming into the game on the back of a knockout clash. It also ensures they will not have to play in three consecutive weekends if they are to reach the final which is fixed for July 15, three weeks after the semis.

With the way they used their five week break from the league into the Munster championship, that gap can only be a positive thing for this Limerick side who are rediscovering the form of 2022 that saw them promoted and earn a first Munster final spot in a decade.

Also, with a couple of players returning from injury, the nature of their dead rubber contest allows Limerick to ease those back into the fold without the pressure of the result. It will also mean game time for fringe players who will be keen to lay down a marker which will only benefit the remainder of the team.

The Tailteann campaign so far could not have gone better for Limerick but it is paramount that they do not take the foot off the accelerator as the only team safely into the last eight after two rounds.

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