Dublin beat Limerick by 3-13 to 0-18 at Semple Stadium on Sunday to reach their first All-Ireland semi final since 1948. A man of the match performance and three goals from Ryan O’Dwyer helped Dublin to hold off the Shannonsiders.
Paul Ryan was also critical to Dublin’s success, with the forward continuing his run of impressive Championship performances with eight points. 18 year old Declan Hannon was Limerick’s star performer, scoring 11 points.
Limerick’s prolificacy in front of goal, illustrated by 15 wides, leaky defending and the inability to fully utilise the likes of Kevin Downes played a huge part in their failure to defeat Dublin. Limerick dominated possession and the run of play for much of the second half, but the Shannonsiders could never get within two points of Dublin. Whenever Limerick got close, they would inevitably hit a host of poor wides.
Limerick looked impressive in the opening stages and Brian Geary scored two points to give Limerick an early lead. Ryan O’Dwyer’s fifth minute goal took away the Shannonsiders’ momentum, however. The sliotar fell to the Dublin forward about ten yards from goal and O’Dwyer applied an accomplished finish.
The teams traded points until Declan Hannon’s 10th minute point tied the scores at 0-5 to 1-2. O’Dwyer then scored his second goal in the 11th after firing a sensational shot into the roof of the Limerick goal. Paul Ryan added two quick fire scores to open up a five point lead, before another Hannon point reduced the arrears to four points.
Points from Liam Rushe and O’Dwyer came either sides of goal chance for Dublin’s Conor McCormack, but the forward’s shot was mishit and hit the ground before reaching keeper Nickie Quaid.
Limerick created a good goal opportunity in the 23rd minute, but Gary Maguire made a good save from Sean Tobin’s shot.
O’Dwyer completed his hat-trick in the 24th minute to give Dublin an intimidating nine point lead. David O’Callaghan took advantage of a defensive mistake and made a great run through the Limerick defence. O’Callaghan unleashed a powerful shot but Nickie Quaid made a good save. Unfortunately for Limerick, O’Dwyer followed in and was on hand to hit the sliotar into an empty net.
Dublin failed to push home their momentum, however. Three points from Declan Hannon and one from Kevin Downes helped Limerick reduce the deficit to 3-6 to 0-10 at half-time.
Limerick emerged from the interval with renewed vigour. The Shannonsiders quickly added one point from Gavin O’Mahony and two scores from Declan Hannon to make it seven unanswered points.
Dublin’s mammoth nine point lead had dwindled to a mere two and the match was getting away from the Metropolitans. A timely point from Paul Ryan from a free helped Dublin regain a foothold in the match, however. It was a fantastic point from Ryan, who scored from the sideline around the halfway line.
Limerick continued to hit wides, with Gavin O’Mahony’s 42nd minute effort making it four wides in a row. Paul Ryan and Declan Hannon then traded two points to leave Dublin with a three point lead with fifteen minutes to play. David O’Callaghan then scored for Dublin before Kevin Downes scored a fantastic point for Limerick.
Hannon’s 11th point of the day made it a two point game, but Paul Ryan immediately responded with an excellent point from a tight angle. Gavin O’Mahony then scored for Limerick in the 61st minute from a long-range free to again reduce the deficit to two points.
Limerick then hit a succession of wides with David Breen, Declan Hannon, Seamus Hickey and James Ryan wasting valuable opportunities. Ryan O’Dwyer scored with five minutes remaining to bring his total to 3-2, before the man of the match left the pitch on a stretcher.
Shane Ryan scored in injury time to give Dublin a four point lead and clinch the game for the Metropolitans. Dublin will now play All-Ireland champions Tipperary in the semi finals.
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