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Seamus Flanagan in action for Limerick at O'Moore Park.
Seamus Flanagan in action for Limerick at O'Moore Park.
Image: Ken Sutton/INPHO

Six All-Ireland winners start as Limerick storm into league semi-final with 17-point win over Laois

Barry Murphy finished with eight points while Seamus Flanagan and Conor Boylan both scored goals for Limerick.
Mar 9th 2019, 9:00 PM 11,882 3

Laois 0-11

Limerick 2-22

Steven Miller reports at O’Moore Park, Portlaoise

BARRY MURPHY HELPED himself to eight points and Seamus Flanagan and Conor Boylan got a goal apiece as All Ireland champions Limerick comfortably booked a league semi-final place thanks to a big win over Laois in O’Moore Park.

Limerick manager John Kiely only started six of last year’s All Ireland-winning heroes but they still had too much strength for the young home side.

First-half goals from Boylan and Flanagan set them on their way and while Laois competed as well as they could, the result was never in doubt.

Laois came into the game on the back of positive outings against Offaly, Carlow and Dublin but this was a big step up. And it told from the start.

Limerick were stronger and sharper, continuously swallowing Laois up in the tackle and creating space for themselves when they were in possession.

There’s a euphoria around Limerick hurling at the moment and they brought a huge crowd to Portlaoise.

And they had plenty to shout about early on. Barry Murphy and David Dempsey fired over early points and although Lee Cleere responded for Laois, the visitors got their first goal in the fifth minute when Seamus Flanagan fired past Enda Rowland after good work from Gearoid Hegarty.

Peter Casey and captain Declan Hannon followed up with points from play before Murphy added another free. After just ten minutes, Limerick led 1-5 to 0-1.

Laois grew into the game somewhat with Rowland pointing a long-range free for Laois and Mark Kavanagh adding three more but Laois struggled in front of the posts, hitting 14 wides in total in the opening half.

Limerick struck for a second goal on the 30-minute mark with Conor Boylan – one of Limerick’s newer faces – finishing smartly. Kavanagh responded with another free but Casey and Hegarty added further points before the break.

Jack Kelly and Barry Nash Limerick's Barry Nash chasing Jack Kelly. Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

At half-time Limerick led 2-11 to 0-6 with all six of their starting forwards on the scoresheet.

Limerick continued to lead the way in the second half with Diarmuid Byrnes (free), Gearoid Hegarty, a sublime Darragh O’Donovan sideline cut and four from Barry Murphy stretching their lead.

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Kavanagh, Paddy Purcell, Aaron Dunphy and Jack Kelly pointed for Laois as both sides used their bench but the scoring rate slowed down with Flanagan, Boylan and another Murphy free ensured Limerick had 17 points to spare at the final whistle.

Limerick have a two-week break before their semi-final on 23/24 March. They’ll face tougher tests from here on – but they’ve now won four and drawn one of their six league games this year.

Laois now face a wait before their next competitive outing – their Joe McDonagh Cup opener away to Offaly in May.

Limerick scorers: Barry Murphy 0-8 (0-7 frees), Seamus Flanagan 1-2, Conor Boylan 1-1, Peter Casey 0-3, Gearoid Hegarty 0-3, David Dempsey 0-1, Declan Hannon 0-1, Robbie Hanley 0-1, Diarmuid Byrnes 0-1 (free), Darragh O’Donovan 0-1 (sideline)

Laois: Mark Kavanagh 0-6 (0-4 frees), Lee Cleere 0-1, Enda Rowland 0-1 (free), Jack Kelly 0-1, Aaron Dunphy 0-1, Paddy Purcell 0-1

Limerick: Barry Hennessy; Tom Condon, Dan Morrissey, William O’Meara; Diarmaid Byrnes, Declan Hannon, Barry Nash; Darragh O’Donovan, Robbie Hanley; Gearoid Hegarty, David Dempsey, Conor Boylan; Peter Casey, Seamus Flanagan, Barry Murphy

Subs: Aaron Costello for T Condon (half-time), David Reidy for P Casey (45 minutes), Shane Dowling for G Hegarty (55 minutes), Colin Ryan for Robbie Hanley (57 minutes), Andrew La Touche Cosgrave for D Byrnes (62 minutes)

Laois: Enda Rowland; Joe Phelan, Matthew Whelan, Donnacha Hartnett; Lee Cleere , Ryan Mullaney, Padraig Delaney; Jack Kelly, Sean Downey; Aaron Dunphy , Mark Kavanagh, Paddy Purcell; Mark Dowling, Neil Foyle, Stephen Bergin

Subs: PJ Scully for P Purcell (blood sub – 28-32 minutes) PJ Scully for S Bergin (45 minutes), Stephen Maher for M Dowling (51 minutes), David Connolly for S Downey,, Aaron Bergin for N Foyle (65 minutes)

Referee: Colm Lyons (Cork)

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