Limerick fall to Antrim in Allianz Football League opener

Limerick 2-7
Antrim 2-14

Limerick fell to a frustrating defeat in the opening round of the Division Three of the National Football League against Antrim. Mick Neville Park provided little home comfort for Jimmy Lee’s side, who trailed from the first minute all the way through, despite a strong third quarter.

Lee’s men trailed by as many as eight points at one stage but twice came to within one of the Ulster outfit, before the visitors kicked the scored need to pull clear. It extends Limerick’s run without a win in the National football league to nine games, since they won promotion from this Division in 2022, when defeating Fermanagh.

Trailing 1-5 to 0-2 after a 22nd minute penalty from Dominic McEnhill, it looked ominous for Limerick but points from bother Robbie and Tommie Childs meant it was 1-7 to 0-4 at half-time. Despite the margin still being six, there was optimism from many of the estimated 550 in attendance in Rathkeale.

28 January 2024; Limerick manager Jimmy Lee during the Allianz Football League Division 3 match between Limerick and Antrim at Mick Neville Park in Rathkeale, Limerick. Photo by Tom Beary/Sportsfile



A black card on the resumption for Antrim captain Dermot McAleese gave Limerick more momentum and Aaron O’Sullivan’s ’45’ was quickly added to by team captain Iain Corbett.

The Newcastle West man was to dispatch a penalty, after Michael Byrne failed to move with the ball, lying on it in the square. There was suddenly just a point between the sides. But the next three went to Antrim, who were playing against the wind.

Limerick’s reply was again a strong one, and having moved Tommie Childs into full-forward, the Galtee Gaels man profited from a turnover to power a shot to the back of the net for a 2-6 to 1-10 scoreline. However, from the very next play, Ruairí McCann ghosted beyond the cover and found the net himself.

Limerick registered just a point to four from the Saffrons down the home stretch, with Brian O’Sullivan’s warranted black card giving the momentum to Andy McEntee’s men.

There was league debuts for Emmet Rigter, Eoin Hurley and Andrew Meade from the bench, with Daniel Daly in from the start. A trip to Newry next Saturday to face Down is next up for Lee and co, who will rue a raft of wides when the deficit was manageable in the third quarter.



Scorers for Limerick: I Corbett 1-2 (1-0 pen); T Childs 1-1; P Nash (mark), R Childs, A O’Sullivan (45), C Fahy 0-1 each.

Scorers for Antrim:
D McEnhill 1-6 (1-0 pen, 0-3 frees); R McCann 1-2; M Byrne (frees) 0-2; E Hynds, D McAleese, N Burnes, R Boyle 0-1 each.


Limerick:
A O’Sullivan; T McCarthy, S O’Dea, B O’Sullivan; C McSweeney, R Childs, P Maher; T Childs, T Griffin; I Corbett, C Fahy, B Coleman; D Daly, J Naughton, P Nash.

Subs: E Rigter for Naughton (inj – 28); E Hurley for Daly (35); C Downes for T Griffin (44), A Meade for Nash (63).

Antrim:
M Byrne; R Boyle, E Walsh, K Keenan; M Hordan, J Finnegan, D McAleesse (C); C McLarnon, P McAleer; E Hynds, N Burnes, R McCann; P McBride, C McGettigan, D McEnhill.

Subs: C Hand for Boyle (69); D Lynch for McAleese (70); B Kelly for McAleer (70).

Referee: Sean Lonergan (Tipperary)

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