TOP 10 | Limerick’s best performances under Billy Lee

The Newcastle West native announced he was stepping down from the role today after six years at the helm.

Limerick are on the search for a new manager after Billy Lee announced his decision to step down earlier today.

Lee spent six years at the helm where he guided Limerick to a McGrath Cup title, Division 4 triumph, promotion to the second tier of the League and a place in this year’s Munster final, their first in twelve year.

Inheriting a squad in the bottom tier of the National Football League, Lee had to cope with the loss of key players throughout his tenure with many more opting away from joining the panel.

Nonetheless, Lee cultivated a winning culture in a trusted group of players that saw Limerick move from Division 4 in 2020 to the second tier.

24 October 2020; Limerick manager Billy Lee prior to the Allianz Football League Division 4 Round 7 match between Sligo and Limerick at Markievicz Park in Sligo. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Such has been the job Lee has done, it will be a difficult task for whoever is handed the responsibility of replacing the Newcastle West man.

And with his tenure coming to an end today, we reflect on some of Limerick’s best performances during Billy Lee’s time in charge.

Honourable Mentions

Carlow 0-9 : 1-7 Limerick (2020 National Football League)

After winning each of their opening to games in the League following their McGrath Cup success, Limerick looked on course to suffer a first defeat of the year. Trailing by three in injury time, Robbie Childs found the net to level. From the kick out, Limerick retrieved possession, found Danny Neville who was fouled for a penalty. Iain Corbett chose to slot over the bar as Limerick sealed a smash and grab en route to promotion.

Limerick 5-10 : 1-14 Wicklow (2020 National Football League)

Following on from the win over Carlow where Limerick left it until injury time, Lee’s men hit the ground running against Wicklow in Rathkeale. Mike Donovan, Danny Neville and Robbie Childs found the net inside ten minutes to put the game past the Leinster outfit. Iain Corbett and Seamus O’Carroll hit the net in the second half as Limerick made it four on the spin in the league.

Derry 0-17 : 0-13 Limerick (2021 National Football League semi-final)

Against the League favourites, Limerick put it up to the team that would claim the Ulster title twelve months later. Hugh and Robbie Bourke helped Limerick into an early lead with the teams level four times in the first half. Derry did hold the advantage at the break and kicked on in the second half but the manner of the performance showed Limerick belonged at a higher level.

Limerick 4-9 : 1-11 Wicklow (2022 National Football League)

In their first year in the third division proper following a condensed 2021 season, Lee’s side showed further progression as they saw off Wicklow in their opener. An early Cillian Fahy goal gave them the impetus needed with Brian Donovan adding a pair before half time. Longford did get within two but James Naughton settled any nerves with Limerick’s fourth late on.

Laois 0-14 : 0-15 Limerick (2022 National Football League)

With their season on the line, Limerick left it late to keep their promotion hopes alive. Knowing a loss could bring them into relegation danger, and with Laois needing a win to maintain any promotion hopes, Limerick were against it. Led by Adrian Enright, Limerick were four to the good at the break in Portlaoise. But five on the bounce from the hosts had them in front before Josh Ryan levelled. Twice more Laois had the lead but Limerick levelled on both occasions before two in a row from Robbie Bourke snatched the victory to keep the Shannonsiders in the promotion hunt.

10. Limerick 2-11 : 1-15 Tipperary (AET) (2020 Munster Senior Football Championship semi-final)

The only defeat on this list, Limerick were made to rue a huge missed opportunity to make it to the Munster final after falling to Tipperary after extra-time in the LIT Gaelic Grounds.

Goals from Sean McSweeney and Cillian Fahy had Limerick cruising at 2-6 to 0-5 clear at the interval. Tipperary ate into the lead and moved in front in the second half. But Limerick replied and Cian Sheehan looked like he had found the winner before Conor Sweeney’s incredible intervention from the sideline.

In extra-time, Limerick once more went in front but Tipp found the final two scores to end Limerick’s season.

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Tipperary went on to win the Munster championship at Cork’s expense.

9. Limerick 1-13 : 0-14 Tipperary (2021 National Football League)

15 May 2021 in the LIT Gaelic Grounds

Limerick didn’t have to wait too long to get their revenge, meeting the Premier in their first competitive game of 2021.

Lee’s men trailed by a pair of points at the half following a poor opening quarter where they trailed by four. Three unanswered prior to the break gave them life. then Danny Neville burst into life on the restart, bagging 1-2 inside three minutes to turn the contest in Limerick’s favour. Lee’s men moved five clear before Tipp had their first score of the half. Tipp got within two but Limerick held resolute for the win.

8. Antrim 0-11 : 2-9 Limerick (2022 National Football League)

5 February 2022 in Corrigan Park

Following the opening day win against Longford, Limerick remained atop the Division 3 standings with a superb win in Corrigan Park against one of the League’s favourites, Antrim. Two goals inside ten minutes from Cian Sheehan and Peter Nash gave Limerick the foundation needed as they held off the challenge of the visitors for a deserved victory.

7. Limerick 4-18 : 0-12 Waterford (2022 Munster Senior Football Championship quarter-final)

26 June 2021 in the LIT Gaelic Grounds

Limerick made light work of Waterford for an 18-point drubbing to seal a third successive Munster semi-final berth. Robbie Bourke had Limerick’s first goal after three minutes that pushed them five clear of the Deise. Hugh Bourke then hit the net as Limerick took a 2-9 to 0-7 advantage into the break.

Fifteen minutes into the second half, Danny Neville was fouled for a penalty which Iain Corbett converted for a 3-12 to 0-8 lead. Cillian Fahy had Limerick’s fourth five minutes later as they cruised to victory.

6. Tipperary 0-10 : 2-10 Limerick (2022 Munster Senior Football Championship semi-final)

14 May 2022 in Semple Stadium

Limerick reached a first Munster final in twelve years with relative ease. In a first half that failed to fire, the sides were level heading into the break at 1-3 to 0-6, Josh Ryan finding the net after Brian Donovan’s goal bound shot was blocked.

But in the second, Limerick began to find their rhythm and when Donovan rattled the back of the net with twenty to play, there was only going to be one winner.

5. Limerick 1-16 : 0-14 Fermanagh (2022 National Football League)

27 March 2022 in the TUS Gaelic Grounds

Needing a win to ensure a second promotion in just three years, Billy Lee’s side gave a brilliant performance in the TUS Gaelic Grounds to seal their place in Division 2.

Fermanagh started brighter and led 0-3 to 0-1 early on before Limerick pulled ahead with five on the bounce. Fermanagh hit back with a pair of their own before the games crucial score came in the 24th minute, Josh Ryan hitting the net after some superb interplay involving Cillian Fahy and Hugh Bourke.

There was three between the teams at the break and the Ulster side narrowed this to one after the restart. But Limerick showed their class and composure to pull away from their opponents and seal their promotion to Division 2 for the first time since 2007.

4. Clare 1-19 (1) : (4) 2-16 Limerick (AET) Munster Senior Football Championship quarter-final)

In the first ever penalty shoot in the senior football championship, Limerick reigned supreme for their first win over Clare in over a decade. Billy Lee’s found the target with each of their four penalties while Clare only had one on target.

Clare held a two point lead midway through the first half but 1-4 on the bounce, including a spectacular solo goal from Brian Fanning pulled Limerick ahead as they led 1-9 to 1-6 at the break as David Tubridy tucked away a penalty to keep Clare in it.

Limerick maintained that lead with twenty to play but the remainder of normal time belonged to Clare as they led with the clock deep into the red. Limerick were afforded the chance to level in the 77th minute as Robbie Bourke nervelessly sent a free over to bring the game to extra-time.

Bourke fired to the net in the additional time but this time it was Clare that needed the late score to ensure a first ever penalty shoot out.

Bourke, Iain Corbett and Brian Donovan made no mistakes from the spot while Clare erred with two of their three. That gave James Naughton the chance to end the game, which he duly obliged to send Limerick into a fourth successive Munster semi-final.

30 April 2022; James Naughton of Limerick shoots to score the winning penalty in the penalty shoot-out of 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

3. Wicklow 1-12 : 2-19 Limerick (2021 National Football League)

29 May 2021 in Aughrim

With a relegation semi-final for the losers, Limerick took the game to Wicklow in Aughrim, producing one of their best displays under Lee to book a place in the League semi-final.

Limerick began the brighter, racing into a three point lead which was 0-6 to 0-4 at the first waterbreak. The hosts had the games first goal to bring the teams level for the second time before scores from Hugh and Robbie Bourke gave the Shannonsiders a two point cushion at the break.

Limerick’s two-point lead was maintained to the final waterbreak before Lee’s men caught fire. Danny Neville set Robbie Bourke free but the Adare man hit the bottom of the post as Wicklow stayed alive.

But Neville then found the net himself, slotting into the corner after a sensational run down the sideline. He then turned provider for Hugh Bourke and suddenly Limerick were eight points to the good.

The Shannonsiders pushed that advantage out to ten points by the final whistle as they booked their place in the last four of Division 3.

29 May 2021; Danny Neville of Limerick in action against Niall Donnelly of Wicklow during the Allianz Football League Division 3 South Round 3 match between Wicklow and Limerick at County Grounds in Aughrim, Wicklow. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

2. Sligo 1-14 : 1-16 Limerick (2020 National Football League)

24 October 2020 in Markievicz Park Sligo

Limerick held off a late Sligo comeback to seal Division 4 honours in Markievicz Park. A stunning first half performance from Lee’s men was the perfect platform as they sealed their promotion on the final day.

Iain Corbett had the opening score, blitzing through the Sligo rearguard before firing over. Scores from Hugh Bourke and Sean McSweeney had limerick 0-4 to 0-1 to the good at the first waterbreak. Bourke then raised a green flag on 24 minutes after being freed by Cillian Fahy. That had Limerick 1-9 to 0-4 at the break.

Even with a black card, Limerick dominated as Darragh Treacy had them nine to the good at 1-13 to 0-7. But Sligo hit back with 1-3 without reply as the Shannonsiders cooled in front of goal.

But Donal O’Sullivan stepped up when needed most, nailing a long range free at 45′ as Limerick held on for a deserved win and League title.

24 October 2020; Paul Maher of Limerick celebrates at the full-time whistle following the Allianz Football League Division 4 Round 7 match between Sligo and Limerick at Markievicz Park in Sligo. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

1.Tipperary 1-10 : 3-11 Limerick (2019 Munster Senior Football Championship quarter-final)

11 May 2019 in Semple Stadium

Three second half goals would prove key as Limerick picked up a first Munster championship win since 2012.

Goals from Iain Corbett, Cillian Fahy and Peter Nash would help see off Tipp in Thurles to give the Treaty a first championship win of any kind in three years.

Munster GAA Football Senior Championship Quarter-Final, Semple Stadium, Co. Tipperary 11/5/2019 Tipperary vs Limerick Limerick’s Iain Corbett celebrates at the final whistle with Stephen Keeley Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Limerick started the brighter and raced into a 0-6 to 0-4 lead but found themselves level at the half.

The game was finely poised at 0-9 to 0-8 in Limerick’s favour when Corbett grabbed the first goal of the game.

12 minutes later, Fahy had Limerick’s second who led 2-11 to 0-9 appraoching the final ten minutes.

Michael Quinlavin replied with a goal for Tipp but Nash’s late effort would prove the icing on he cake as Limerick powered into the Munster semi’s.

Arguably the turning point in Lee’s tenure, the result ushered in new era for Limerick football that has seen a huge change in fortunes.

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