LIMERICK’s hopes of gaining promotion from Division 3 of the Allianz Football League took a major blow following a 0-16 to 1-11 loss to Offaly in Tullamore.
Billy Lee’s charges were unlucky not to come away with at least a draw having been level seven times but it was the home side that finished the game stronger with some sensational scoring from play.
Hugh Bourke top scored for Limerick with 1-4, while half time substitute Josh Ryan chipped in with four second half frees in the two-point loss.
Joe Maher opened the scoring from play for Offaly but Limerick were soon back on level terms thanks to a Hugh Bourke mark.
Offaly then missed a golden opportunity to take control from the penalty spot after Brian Fanning fouled Bernard Allen but Maher’s shot crashed off the outside of the left post. Fanning was sin-binned for the foul.
Allen wasted no time in taking advantage after his marker departed to the sideline with two quick fire points that saw Offaly 0-3 to 0-1 to the good.
However, Bourke was on target for the second time in the half with a free and Limerick went in at the first water break just one point down.
Anton Sullivan put Offaly two clear once more just after Fanning returned but a well worked team score that was finished off by Gordon Brown reduced their lead to the minimum once more.
Allen’s third point of the half saw Offaly double their advantage on 28 minutes but two cracking scores from Bob Childs and Bourke saw the sides level for a second time at the break.
Cian Farrell opened the scoring in the second half but it was Limerick that then hit the front with Bourke prodding home from close range following Danny Neville’s scuffed shot.
Bernard Allen and Shane Horan immediately had Offaly level once more before Neville gave Limerick the lead again with a powerful left footed shot.
Billy Farrell responded to level the game for a fourth time but Bourke and Limerick hit the front once more from a placed ball with 49 minutes played. It would be the last time they would lead the contest.
Ruairi McNamee and Allen ensured Offaly led 0-11 to 1-7 at the water break and when play resumed, the sides began to match each other score for score.
Limerick had calls for a penalty following a challenge by Offaly keeper Paddy Dunican on Cillian Fahy but claims were waved away by referee John Gilmartin.
Ultimately, it was Offaly’s prowess from play that saw them to victory with Cian Farrell and veteran forward Niall McNamee (2) seeing them home to victory.
Scorers – Limerick: Hugh Bourke 1-4 (1f, 1m), Josh Ryan 0-4 (4f), Gordon Brown, Bob Childs and Danny Neville 0-1 each.
Limerick: Donal O’Sullivan; Sean O’Dea, Brian Fanning, Michael Donovan; Tony McCarthy, Bob Childs, Gordon Brown; Darragh Treacy, Tommie Childs; Cian Sheehan, Cillian Fahy, Iain Corbett; Brian Donovan, Danny Neville, Hugh Bourke.
Subs: Paul Maher for McCarthy (h-t), Josh Ryan for Sheehan (h-t), Peter Nash for B Donovan (55), Luke Murphy for Brown (61), Ger Stack for Bourke (69), Adrian Enright for Fahy (65).