Yesterday, Limerick hurling legend Shane Dowling announced his retirement from the intercounty game due to persistent injuries.
During his seven year stint with the seniors, Dowling won it all, including an All-Ireland, 2 Munster Championship’s, 2 League titles and an All-Star in 2014.
Dowling will also retire as Limerick’ top scorer in championship.
Over the years, the Na Piarsaigh man has put in some serious performances for the green of Limerick and below we rank six of the best.
6. Waterford (2018 Munster Hurling Championship)
10 June 2018
For the first time since 2013, Dowling came into the 2018 season outside of the starting XV. John Kiely’s second year in charge saw an influx of the 2015 and ’17 U21 winning All-Ireland sides. As such, Dowling failed to see game time in Limerick’s two opening championship games against Tipperary and Cork. However, Aaron Gillane’s suspension saw Dowling parachuted into the starting line-up for Limerick’s third clash of the year against Waterford in the Gaelic Grounds. Not only did he take the Patrickswell’s man place in the team but he also assumed free-taking duties from which he was unerring notching 13 frees in total as Limerick eased to a 2-26 to 1-16 victory over the Deise. Dowling added a further two from play as Limerick booked their place in the knockout stages with a game to play.
Dowling tally: 0-15 (0-13f)
5. Wexford (2014 All-Ireland Quarter-Final)
27 July 2014
Limerick came into the 2014 All-Ireland quarter-final on the back of a Munster final loss to Cork. Meanwhile, Wexford had eliminated reigning champions Clare in the qualifiers as well as Waterford. As such, Wexford were seen as a huge threat to the Limerick cause. Dowling had other intentions however as he brought the game to the Leinster side immediately. Within two minutes he had the opening score before assisting David Breen for the games first goal after ten. Two goals from Dowling prior to the break saw Limerick into a 3-15 to 0-8 lead at the half with the game effectively over as a contest. He would continue to keep Wexford at arms-length for the remainder of the game as he finished with 2-8.
Dowling tally: 2-8 (0-5f)
Antrim (2012 All-Ireland Qualifer, Phase 1)
30 June 2012
In just his third championship game, Dowling would rack up his highest tally as Limerick tore Antrim to shreds in phase one of the 2012 qualifiers. Within the opening ten minutes, Dowling would bag a brace of goals as Limerick powered into a 12-point lead. The Na Piarsaigh man would compete his hattrick in the second half as Limerick secured a 8-26 to 1-15 win in the Gaelic Grounds. Overall, Ddowling would notch 3-9 which would prove to be the highest score in the championship that year.
Dowling tally: 3-9 (0-5f, ’65)
3. Kilkenny (2014 All-Ireland semi-final)
10 August 2014
While his one handed point is sure never to be forgotten, what is often overlooked was the display the 21-year-old gave against JJ Delaney, arguably the greatest defender of the modern era, in Croke Park. Limerick came into the game having collapsed at the same stage against Clare the previous year and without a championship win over Kilkenny since the 1973 All-Ireland win. That audacious flick came in the first half as he helped Limerick to a 0-10 to 0-7 lead.
A Kilkenny goal would put the Cats back into he lead but Dowling was on hand to level proceedings in the second half. He would help them pull two clear as the heavens opened up but it was not meant to be for TJ Ryan’s side who fell to a 2-13 to 0-19. The final display in his All-Star summer as he was named at top of the left, contentiously losing out on the Young Hurler of the Year gong.
Dowling tally: 0-7 (4f, ’65, *1 one handed score)
2. Tipperary (2014 Munster semi-final)
1 June 2014
While he was on the periphery of the team in 2013, acting as an impact substitution as Limerick claimed a first Munster title in seventeen years, Dowling would come of age against Tipperary in Semple Stadium in the Munster semi-final. Having defeated Tipp at the same stage the previous summer, revenge was on the mind of the premier county. However, Limerick once more were the quicker off the blocks and buoyed by a Dowling goal from a 20m free, Limerick lead 1-8 to 1-4 middway through the half. Tipperary would restore parity before the break and begun to take initiative in the second. Approaching injury time, Tipperary held a three-point advantage before Dowling smashed home his second goal of the day to bring the sides level. Limerick would push on for their first victory over Tipp in Semple Stadium since 1973 with Dowling grabbing 2-9 of his sides 2-18 total.
Dowling tally: 2-9 (1-9f)
1.Cork (2018 All-Ireland semi-final)
While he was the star against Waterford from the start in Munster, by the time the All-Ireland semi-final against Cork rolled around, Dowling had to be content with his position as an impact substitution. And despite having started well, holding the lead at the break, Conor Lehane’s goal middway through the second half had Cork five to the good in Croker. And then Dowling was introduced.
Barely a minute onto the field, Dowling landed an incredible field from way out the field on the sideline. A minute later and Dowling had his second as Limerick reduced the deficit to four. Howver, Cork would grab two on the bounce to leave Limerick trailing by six with as many minute to go.
Yet, three from Gillane and another from Kyle Hayes had Limerick within two as injury time closed in. Dowling would land his third since his introduction before Gillane levelled. Gillane would give Limerick the lead but Cork leveled lat eon to send the game to extra-time.
In extra-time, Dowling would send Gillane clear on goal with a beautiful flick but the Patrickswell man saw his effort sail over the bar. Shortly after and Dowling’s fourth had Limerick ahead. The Na Piarsaigh man would then win a free which Gillane converted to push Limerick further ahead.
Three minutes into the second period of extra-time, Dolwing raced in on the Cork goal before being dragged down as he attempted to strike. Not to be fazed in front a frenzied Hill 16, Dowling dusted himself down before dispatching the penalty to the top corner to give Limerick daylight.
From here Limerick would seal the 3-32 to 2-31 win and a place in the All-Ireland final. In the aftermath, Dowling gave an empassioned speech outlining the need for calm in the county for a number of weeks which worked a treat as Limerick won a first All-Ireland title since 1973.
And while Dowling also netted in the decider, were it not for his introduction and subsequent 1-4 against Cork, there would have been no final.
Dowling tally: 1-4 (1-0 pen, 0-1f)