Limerick 1-25 Laois 0-18
Allianz National Hurling League Division 1B
The Laois hurlers made a losing start to their Division 1B National League campaign in the Gaelic Grounds this afternoon.
Eamonn Kelly’s side competed well for long periods but the concession of a first half goal proved decisive.
Laois, who were already ravaged with injuries before travelling to Munster, were dealt a further blow prior to throw in as Cha Dwyer was ruled out with a suspected hamstring injury and was replaced by clubmate Sean Downey.
The O’Moore men began well as Slieve Bloom’s Ben Conroy curled one over from a very acute angle but Limerick were quickly level via Aaron Gillane from a free.
Gillane added another free in the third minute but Laois were competitive early on with goalkeeper Enda Rowland leveling the game from a free outside his own 65.
Diarmuid Byrnes and Gillane edged Limerick two clear but Paddy Purcell kept the scoreboard ticking for Laois at the other end.
But Cian Lynch then hit a brace to move Limerick 0-6 to 0-3 in front after ten minutes.
Laois captain Ross King replied with his first free of the afternoon and then added another after 17 minutes to reduce the arrears to the minimum.
Aaron Gillane grabbed his fourth of the afternoon as Laois lost corner back Lee Cleere to what appeared to be a knee injury.
And a minute after that Limerick’s had the game’s first goal. A quick ball inside found Aaron Gillane and he had Gearóid Hegarty off his shoulder who unleashed a pile driver into the net.
Ross King replied for Laois with another free and then hit one from play after Paul Browne had taken Limerick’s tally to 1-8.
Aaron Gillane followed that with two more to put Limerick 1-10 to 0-7 ahead as we approached the final five minutes of the first half.
Limerick were starting to get away from Laois now as Tom Morrissey became their sixth difference scorer. Paul Browne almost had a second goal for Limerick but his effort at point blank range was saved by Enda Rowland.
Aaron Gillane moved Limerick eight clear as three minutes of first half injury time were signalled. But there wouldn’t be another score as Limerick took a 1-12 to 0-7 lead into the dressing rooms.
Laois needed a positive start to the second half and they got it when Ross King landed his fourth free of the encounter within a minute of the restart.
Paul Browne responded for Limerick with his second point of the game before Barry O’Connell got his first.
King landed two 65s and a free for Laois but Limerick kept the gap at seven points thanks to Tom Morrissey.
Limerick’s main scorer Aaron Gillane took his tally to eight as we approached the last twenty minutes with Tom Morrissey adding another.
Substitute Willie Dunphy hit over his first from a narrow angle for Laois but so too did Limerick sub David Reidy with his first touch while Laois were thankful to Enda Rowland for making another save – this time from Paul Browne.
The resulting 65 was sent over by Aaron Gillane and Limerick now led by 1-20 to 0-12 with less than 15 minutes to play.
But Laois kept going and Ross King got his eight point with another free before Paddy Purcell scored his second after a fine run.
Aidan Corby made it three Laois points in a row with one from midfield but Diarmuid Byrnes wiped out any talk of a Laois comeback with his second point.
Aaron Gillane got into double figures before the end and while Ross King tried to match him with his ninth, the game was petering out in the last five minutes of the second half.
Paul Browne and Rowland swapped points as four minutes of injury time were signalled in the Gaelic Grounds.
Laois went for goals now with Ross King and Enda Rowland both trying from 21 metre frees without finding the net.
David Reidy and Willie Dunphy traded scores before the impressive Aaron Gillane left ten points in it at the finish.
Next up for Laois is another extremely difficult clash against Galway in O’Moore Park on Saturday evening.
SCORERS – Laois: Ross King 0-9 (0-7 frees, 0-2 65s), Enda Rowland (frees), Paddy Purcell and Willie Dunphy 0-2 each, Aidan Corby 0-1 Limerick: Aaron Gillane 0-11 (0-6 frees, 0-1 65), Gearoid Hegarty 1-0, Cian Lynch 0-2, Paul Browne 0-3, Diarmuid Byrnes 0-2, Tom Morrissey 0-3, Barry O’Connell 0-1, David Reidy 0-3
LAOIS: Enda Rowland (Abbeyleix); Lee Cleere (Clough-Ballacolla), Leigh Bergin (Shanahoe), Podge Lawlor (Ballinakill); Jack Kelly (Rathdowney-Errill), Matthew Whelan (Borris-Kilcotton), Eric Killeen (Rathdowney-Errill); Paddy Purcell (Rathdowney-Errill), James Ryan (Rathdowney-Errill); Ben Conroy (Slieve Bloom), Seán Downey (Ballinakill), Cian Taylor (Portlaoise); Ross King (Rathdowney-Errill), Neil Foyle (Borris-Kilcotton), Paddy McCane (Rathdowney-Errill). Subs: Donnacha Hartnett (Mountmellick) for Cleere (20mins, inj), Willie Dunphy (Clough-Ballacolla) for McCane (31mins), Aidan Corby (Clough-Ballacolla) for Downey (50mins), Eanna Lyons (Ballyfin) for Taylor (57mins)
LIMERICK: Nickey Quaid; Sean Finn, Seamus Hickey, Richie English; Diarmaid Byrnes, Dan Morrissey, Paddy O’Loughlin; Cian Lynch, Paul Browne; Tom Morrissey, Darragh O’Donovan, Barry O’Connell; Aaron Gillane, Seamus Flanagan, Gearoid Hegarty. Subs: Colin Ryan for O’Connell (43mins), Barry Murphy for Hegarthy (43mins), David Reidy for Seamus Flanagan (53mins)