By Peter Nolan
Connecticut continued their impressive debut senior season by topping last year’s champions, Limerick, 1-17 to 0-14, Sunday at Gaelic Park.
Connecticut wasted little time in making their presence felt, racing to a 0-3 lead with scores from Ollie O’Neill, Declan Ryan and Keith Hennessey. The suburbanites were quicker to the ball and played with a bit more purpose than the defending Senior champs.
Limerick quickly broke the schneid via a John Loftus point. The wing forward’s well-taken strike seemed to settle his side and Limerick began to pull themselves back into the match. Dave Simms scored two points for Limerick, which Denis Byrne matched with the first two of his eventual 1-6 personal tally.
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Colm Moriarity’s point had drawn Limerick within a single point, but Byrne soon provided last year promoted Junior champions with a little breathing room. Byrne elected to go for a goal on a Connecticut free and his rocket shot squeezed through a thicket of bodies lining the Limerick goal.
The Limerick half forward line of Simms, Moriarty and Loftus all found their way onto the scoresheet as Limerick responded well to the Connecticut surge. Connecticut wingback Declan Ryan scored two first-half points, subscribing to the-best-defense-is-a-good-offense theory. Connecticut held a slim 1-8 to 0-10 midway edge and soon after the restart Dave Simms’s free erased it.
Connecticut accepted the Limerick challenge and quickly regained the lead. Three points on the trot, from Moriarity, Anthony Kirwan, and Byrne, scotched any thoughts of a Connecticut fade. Limerick did strike back with points from substitute Mike Barron and Dave Simms, but it was to be their last gasp.
The very active Connecticut front five dominated the rest of the way. Inside forwards Kirwan and John O’Mahoney and the half forward line of Byrne, Conor Keane, and Keith Hennessey had Limerick back on their heels and outscored their vaunted opponents 0-5 to 0-1 the rest of the way.
Limerick had one last chance when Simms lined up to take a free 21 yards from the Connecticut goal. Simms fired hard and low but goalkeeper Donal Leahy and his defenders repelled the shot and Limerick both.
Man of the Match: Denis Byrne.
Connecticut: Donal Leahy, Aiden Kiely, Phil Wickham, Declan Ryan (0-2), Richie Purcell, Tom Foy, Fergus Flynn (0-1), Ollie O’Neill (0-1), Denis Byrne (1-6), Conor Keane (0-1), Keith Hennessey (0-3), Anthony Kirwan (0-2), John O’Mahoney (0-1).
Limerick: Finbar Flood, Tadgh O’Callaghan, Niall Shanahan, Paul Cotter, Ted O’Halpin, Paul Riley, Michael Stretch, Pat Maroney, Dave Simms (0-9), Colm Moriarty (0-2), John Loftus (0-2), Mike Moynihan, Brendan Cagney. Sub: Mike Barron (0-1).