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All bets are off after Limerick nailed on the line by the resurgent Rebels

Inside Track with John McIntyre

HAVE Limerick hurlers been holed below the waterline? Sure, they diced with a shock exit from last year’s Munster title race, but never have the All-Ireland champions being nailed down the home stretch as was the case at a heaving Pairc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday evening.

Over the past seven seasons, we have become accustomed to this great Limerick team doing their best work in the second halves of matches. How many times have we seen them overcome big early deficits before ruthlessly pulling away? It happened against both Galway and Kilkenny in 2023.

Down by the Lee, they were again in trouble at half-time, eight points down against a driven Cork team fighting for their championship lives. Yet, it appeared business as usual when the Seamus Flanagan-inspired men in green rallied to go four in front. Limerick had weathered the storm, and were about to send the Rebels packing.

Two of Flanagan’s three goals had been avoidable, however, while the team’s famed half-back line was floundering. Diarmuid Byrnes may have been Hurler of the Year in 2022, but the Patrickswell clubman can hardly hit the ball out of his way at present. Cian Lynch isn’t sparking to the expected degree either, while the injuries are stacking up.

Midfielder Darragh O’Donovan hasn’t been seen in the championship so far; the luckless Peter Casey is gone for the year; defender Seán Finn had to retire against Cork; while Mike Casey is also on the treatment trouble. Only for Gearóid Hegarty and Flanagan, Limerick would have been in even more distress.

Still, they scored a staggering 3-26 – it’s hard to credit that despite putting up such a huge tally they still lost, but that’s the way modern-day hurling is gone – and only for Shane Kingston’s heroic run in stoppage time which led to Pat Horgan’s match-winning penalty, the Shannonsiders would have survived.

Pictured: Galway’s Leanne Coen is chased by Fionnuala McLaughlin of Mayo during Sunday’s Connacht Senior Ladies Football Final in Kiltoom.  Photo: David Cunniffe.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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