SHC Qualifier: Limerick demolish Antrim with record win

June 30, 2012

Antrim's Johnny Campbell and Shane McNaughton chase after Thomas O'Brien of Limerick during the SHC qualifier at the Gaelic Grounds ©INPHO/James Crombie
Limerick 8-26
Antrim 1-15

Limerick recorded their biggest ever win in championship hurling when they had a massive 32 points to spare over a woeful Antrim side at the Gaelic Grounds.

While a comfortable home win was widely predicted beforehand, no-one expected the gap to be this wide. After all, both teams had plied their trade in Division 1B of the Allianz League earlier this year and will be in the same division again in 2013.

But whereas Limerick are improving with every game, Antrim are rapidly going backwards and how they will lift themselves for what, to them, will be a meaningless Ulster final against either Derry or Down in eight days' time is anyone's guess. Jim Nelson, who led Antrim to an All-Ireland final appearance in 1989, had sought to restore pride after taking over the managerial reins from Jerry Wallace in the wake of last month's disastrous Leinster SHC defeat to Westmeath, but even he hasn't managed that.

Coming a week after their 25-point demolition of Laois, this was another very impressive showing from John Allen's Limerick men who will be a team to be avoided in the draw for Phase 3 of the All-Ireland qualifiers. They blitzed the visitors with five first half goals to lead by nine points at the break, and they showed no mercy in the second half when Shane Dowling brought his tally to an incredible 4-9.

The Shannonsiders immediately signalled their intent with Sean Tobin netting the first of their goals inside the first two minutes. Neil McManus got Antrim off the mark before Shane Dowling and Niall Moran raised further green flags to put the Treaty men firmly in the driving seat. And before Antrim could recover, Dowling grabbed his second major to propel the hosts into a 4-1 to 0-2 lead with 10 minutes barely on the clock.

Antrim clawed back three points before they were rocked again when Graeme Mulcahy rifled home Limerick's fifth goal to make it 5-2 to 0-5 after 16 minutes. Declan Hannon's free extended the Limerick lead to 5-4 to 0-7, but credit to the Saffrons, they hit four points in-a-row per Liam Watson, Neal McAuley, Shane McNaughton and Eddie McCloskey to leave the score 5-4 to 0-11.

Mulcahy broke the visitors' scoring sequence, and at half-time, Limerick led 5-7 to 0-13.

The game became totally one-sided in the second half as the hosts continued to rack up the scores. Shane Dowling completed his hat-trick shortly after the restart and when Graeme Mulcahy hit an eighth goal, Limerick led 8-21 to 0-14.

Declan Hannon's free made it 8-25 to 0-14 before Shane McNaughton managed a late consolation goal for the demoralised visitors.

Scorers - Limerick: S Dowling 4-9 (0-5f, 0-1 '65'), G Mulcahy 2-4, S Tobin 1-3, D Hannon 0-6, N Moran 1-0, S O'Brien 0-2, R McCarthy, T O'Brien 0-1 each. Antrim: L Watson 0-7 (0-6f), N McManus 1-1, S McNaughton 0-3, B McAuley 0-2, N McAuley, E McCloskey 0-1 each

Limerick - N Quaid; S Walsh, R McCarthy (0-1), T Condon; W McNamara, D O'Grady, G OMahoney; J Ryan, T O'Brien (0-1); S Dowling (3-9), B Geary, D Breen; G Mulcahy (2-4), N Moran (2-0), S Tobin (1-3). Subs: D Hannon (0-6) for Breen, A Murphy for Quaid, S O'Brien (0-2) for Geary, S O'Neill for Condon, S Hickey for McNamara.
Antrim - D Quinn; P J O'Connell, N McGarry, A Graffan; M Gettions, J Campbell, N McAuley (0-1); B McAuley, S McNaughton (0-3); E McCloskey (0-1), N McManus (1-1), B McFall; P Shiels, C Carson, L Watson (0-7). Subs: J Kerr for O'Connell, J Scullion for McFall, M Herron for Gethins.

Ref - J Ryan (Tipperary).

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