Limerick enter NHL break unbeaten

Limerick players take a tactical huddle during the weekend nailbiter against Westmeath. Photo: Michael P Ryan.

TWO runaway wins and Limerick are comfortable leaders in Division 1B of the National Hurling League.

Not that the title-holders will have a rest weekend, but the Treaty men’s next outing in the pennant competition isn’t until Saturday week against Dublin at Croke Park, the curtain-raiser to the glamour National Football League tussle between the All-Ireland Champions and Kerry, a repeat of last summer’s showpiece at the same venue.

In Mullingar’s Cusack Park, Limerick preserved their unbeaten start with a laboured 1-20 to 0-17 victory over plucky Westmeath.

Donnacha Ó Dálaigh grabbed a hugely impressive 1-4.

The 21-year-old struck for the game’s only goal on the home stretch, a score that really settled the issue for many a worried Shannonsider. To add to his seven-point contribution in the opening round with over Antrim, Ó Dálaigh now has 1-11 from play to his credit in the competition.

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The Monaleen talent is one of those handful of players desperately seeking to make John Kiely’s 36-person panel that will bid for the coveted five in a row, which will be announced in the coming weeks. The panel currently numbers in the mid-40s.

In the midlands, the sides were level on plenty of occasions, including at the break when the scoreline read 0-9 apiece.

Importantly, substitutes Conor Boylan, Gearóid Hegarty, Mark Quinlan, and Paddy O’Donovan all chipped in with key scores late on for the visitors.

“Westmeath were full value for their performance and maybe could have had even a bit more. The rhythm of the game never really evolved,’ Limerick boss Kiely told the press.

“Having said that, we’d be disappointed that we didn’t control the game for longer periods. We’re disappointed with our intensity, our lack of accuracy, and our unforced errors.”

Limerick remain strong favourites to retain their league title, but there will plenty of challengers between now and business end of a competition in which the Shannonsiders have prevailed on 14 occasions.

Meanwhile in an injury update, Seán Finn has fully recovered from a season-ending ACL injury sustained last May and has resumed full training. It’s likely that the four-time All Star will make his welcome return in either of the closing couple of rounds in the league.