The Irish Daily Star National League got off to a cracking start and few will be happier than Limerick, after they downed All-Ireland champions Cork at Rathkeale’s Mick Neville Park by 1-11 to 0-9.
There were a number of unfamiliar faces on view in both red and green and if Paudie Murray was being more experimental, John Tuohy must have been delighted by how his blend of youth and experience operated in his first competitive game as successor to Joe Quaid.
The home side flew out of the traps with Niamh Mulcahy heavily involved and unerring from placed balls (six of her eight points came from frees), while Sarah Carey was indomitable in her midfield role.
Limerick led by seven points by the time Cork got off the mark but with Orla Cotter (0-6, 5fs) helping to steady the ship, it was a four-point game at the interval.
The key score arrived nine minutes into the second half, when Mulcahy’s free was batted out but Sinead McNamara was on hand to pick up the pieces and bundle a goal. That gave them the vital breathing space to hold on for a deserved victory.
In the other Group 2 game, it was easy for Ann Downey’s Kilkenny as they blitzed Derry 5-9 to 0-1 at Conahy Shamrocks. Áine Gannon fired the first goal and Denise Gaule got another just before the break to make it 2-6 to 0-0.
Sarah Ann Quinlan found the net 10 minutes after the resumption and a good period of Derry resistance was broken in the closing moments, when Michelle Quilty and Quinlan also raised green flags. Karen Kielt was the sole scorer for the Oak Leafers.
With the Wexford-Clare tie postponed due to the waterlogged pitch in Clane, there were just two games in Group 1 as well. Galway got the defence of their title off to the perfect start with a 3-7 to 0-5 win over Tipperary at The Ragg.
A 13th minute goal from Aoife Donohue gave Ollie Bergin’s crew a good head of steam and when Aoife Callanan shook the rigging just before the break, it was 2-7 to 0-0.
Callanan registered her second major three minutes after the restart but Galway didn’t score again, something that is sure to concern their new manager, although Tipperary followers will have been pleased by the manner in which their team kept going.
Meanwhile, a strong second half performance gave Offaly the hard-earned points by 0-10 to 0-6 against Dublin in Banagher. The visitors led by the minimum at the break but with Orlagh Kirwan’s radar fine-tuned, the hosts turned it around. Kirwan scored four second-half points and Michaela Morkan added a brace, while Dublin’s only response came from a Mairi Moynihan point.
In Division 2, Meath were well on top in the derby game against Meath, 5-12 to 2-3, while five points from Niamh Mallon earned Down a draw with Kilkenny.
Six points from Louise Mahony saw Laois edge out neighbours Carlow by 0-9 to 0-7, and eight points from Susie O’Carroll gave Kildare a winning start by 0-9 to 2-2 against Wexford.