Limerick relegated back to Division 3 of the NFL following Kildare defeat

Darragh Kirwan ensured the result in the 76th minute, flicking to the net to keep the Lilywhites safe and relegate Limerick.

Limerick’s time in the second tier of the National Football League has come to an end at the first time of asking after they were beaten by Kildare this afternoon.

A late fightback wasn’t enough for the Shannonsiders who will play Division 3 in 2024 following the 2-7 to 3-10 defeat. The result also means Clare are relegated ahead of the meeting of the Munster rivals next Sunday.

Darragh Kirwan ensured the result in the 76th minute, flicking to the net to keep the Lilywhites safe. The visitors led by five at the break, 0-4 to 1-6 in a first period dominated by errors on both sides.

19 March 2023; Ryan Houlihan of Kildare in action against Cian Sheehan of Limerick during the Allianz Football League Division 2 match between Limerick and Kildare at TUS Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. Photo by Tyler Miller/Sportsfile

Limerick had to wait fifteen minutes to get off the mark, James Naughton launching over a free from out on the wing. Prior to that, the Shannonsiders had a pair of wides as well as two dropped short, one of which saw Kildare score at the other end following a flowing move.

The first four scores came from the visitors, Darragh Kirwan with a double while Barry Coffey and Paddy Woodgate found the others.

Naughton’s second successive effort seemed to get Limerick going in the right direction, with the St Senans man finding the target from a 50m free. However, despite holding the vast majority of the possession, Limerick couldn’t add to their tally with Kildare striking a telling blow on the 20th minute mark.

Jack Sergent fed the onrushing Kevin Flynn who cooly slotted past Donal O’Sullivan for a 1-4 to 0-2 lead. Colm McSweeney hit back with a long-range effort but Limerick found themselves guilty of sloppy passing when in the attacking third.

At the other end, Kildare were much slicker and should have had a second goal from Kirwan only for a superb Donal O’Sullivan stop. Ben McCormack tidied up for a 1-5 to 0-3 advantage.

Kildare failed to kick on but equally Limerick remained sloppy in attack, often kick-passing straight to the opposition with a Cillian Fahy mark the only score on either side in a 12-minute spell.

That was broken by Kildare’s Neil Flynn who fisted over for the final point of the half with Kildare five to the good.

Barry Coleman got Limerick off the mark in the second with a fine effort but Kildare hit back through Kevin Flynn to leave it 1-7 to 0-5 with twenty five to play.

Both sides played with caution in defence but found the attacking transition difficult with Limerick the guiltier party. Limerick did manufacture a huge goalscoring opportunity but somehow Kildare were able to block Peter Nash’s effort on the line. A minute later, an effort from Naughton just drifted wide.

And Kildare made Limerick pay with David Hyland adding his name to the scoresheet for a six-point cushion. But this was halved with fifteen to play, James Naughton arriving onto a loose ball and slotting into the corner.

However, from the next attack, Kildare’s advantage was restored with Jack Robinson palming to the net. Naughton did offer Limerick some resistance with five to play but again Kildare had the desired response.

Life was really ignited into the Limerick comeback on 67 miutes with Cillian Fahy palming Robbie Bourke’s shot into the net to make it a thre-point game. Nash was then denied by the Kildare net minder Mark Donnellan heading into the five allotted injury time minutes but it was Kildare that foun the killer blow.

Scorers for Limerick: James Naughton (1-3, 2 frees), Cillian Fahy (1-1), Colm McSweeney, Brian Donovan, Barry Coleman (0-1)

LIMERICK: Donal O’Sullivan; Michael Donovan, Sean O’Dea, Brian Fanning; Barry Coleman, Colm McSweeney, Tony McCarthy; Cathal Downes, Cillian Fahy; Paul Maher, James Naughton, Cian Sheehan; Killian Ryan, Brian Donovan, Hugh Bourke.

Subs Used: Adrian Enright for Ryan (35), Gordon Browne for McCarthy (HT), Peter Nash for Downes (42), Robbie Bourke for Coleman (56), Davy Lyons for Bourke (67)

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