Following last weeks below par performance against Offaly, Louth set out to grab two points from their final home league game of the year but it was Limerick who claimed the points in Drogheda following their workmanlike victory. A fine start from the Southerners was key to the win and after racing into an early lead, and save for just one minute in the contest, the Limerick men led from start to finish.
A rasping shot from Mark Brennan in the second minute was pushed wide by Limerick goalkeeper Brian Scanlon and this save inspired his Limerick teammates into action. An opening free kick from Ger Collins was followed up by a fisted point from attacking wing back, John Riordan. The energetic Steven Kelly's opening score pushed Limerick further into the lead by the 13th minute. Good interplay between Adrian Reid and JP Rooney led to Louth's opening score from the latter, and moments later, a thundering shot from Rooney rattled the Limerick crossbar to further frustrate the home side. Spurred into action, Limerick claimed the next three scores through full forward John Cooke (2), and the impressive Kelly. Louth, now trailing by five points, needed a response and full forward Shane Lennon answered the call. A pass from Brennan was well won by corner forward Derek Maguire whose fist pass set up Lennon, and his shot past Scanlon gave Louth a badly needed lift. Limerick replied quickly through Kelly again, but three unanswered scores from Maguire, Lennon and a super score from captain Paddy Keenan drew the sides level with half time approaching. However, Limerick claimed the final two scores of the first half, with John Mullane and Seanie Buckley opening their accounts. Limerick's two point half time lead was just rewards for their opening half performance as Louth struggled to find their form.
Half-time: Louth 1-04 Limerick 0-09
The opening four scores of the second half were shared as points from Cooke and Collins were sandwiched between scores from the energetic Rooney and Keenan. Louth began to get a grip of things around the middle with Keenan and midfield partner Brian Donnelly, winning their fair share of kick outs. Indeed a long ball from Donnelly into the the Louth forward line was well won by Lennon and he duly curled the ball between the sticks to leave the minimum between the sides. A point from Maguire put the sides back level, before a long range left footed effort from Rooney put Louth in front for the first time in the contest. Credit to Limerick though, as the men from the Treaty County responded in kind. A shot from wing forward Eoghan O'Connor hit the post and bounced fortuitously to Pa Ranahan who couldn't miss finding the back of the net from one yard out. O'Connor got his name on the scoresheet moments later to extend his sides lead. A point from Lennon narrowed the gap, but over the course of the next five minutes Louth would be left to rue a number of missed opportunities, including some bad wides and bad decision-making. Despite dominating during this five minute spell, a pointed 45m from Donnelly was all the home side could muster and scores from Tom Lee and another from O'Connor meant it was the Shannon siders who would claim the points from the contest.
Full-time: Louth 1-11 Limerick 1-14
For the second Sunday in a row, Louth were beaten by a hungrier side. Though they got a huge slice of fortune with their goal, Limerick were a threat from start to finish and their early lead was fully merited. Kelly in particular was a thorn in the Louth side as the men from the Wee County struggled to contain him. Louth would rue a number of missed opportunities, particularly in the final quarter with a number of players guilty of shooting badly or taking the wrong option. However, the rest of the results went the way of Louth and promotion from the League remains in their hands, but only just.
Best for Louth were Declan Byrne, Paddy Keenan, Brian Donnelly and JP Rooney.
Scorers: Shane Lennon (1-03), JP Rooney (0-03), Derek Maguire and Paddy Keenan (0-02 each), Brian Donnelly (0-01).
LOUTH: Sean Connor; Declan Byrne, Aaron Hoey, Gerard Hoey; Derek Crilly, Dessie Finnegan, Stephen Fitzpatrick; Paddy Keenan, Brian Donnelly; Adrian Reid, Andy McDonnell, Mark Brennan; Derek Maguire, Shane Lennon, JP Rooney.
Subs used: Paraic Smith for Mark Brennan (43), Jamie Carr for Dessie Finnegan (53), Ronan Carroll for Andy McDonnell (53), Colm Judge for Derek Maguire (58). Subs not used: Neil Gallagher, Eamonn McAuley, Padraig Rath, Liam Shevlin, Ronan Greene, David Bracken, Darren Clarke.
LIMERICK: Brian Scanlon; Mark Riordan, Shane Gallagher, Mike Sheehan; John Riordan 0-1, Johnny McCarthy, Pa Ranahan 1-0; Tom Lee 0-1, Seanie Buckley 0-1; Stephen Kelly 0-3, John Mullane 0-1, Eoghan Hogan; Ian Ryan, John Cooke 0-3, Ger Collins 0-2.
Subs: Jack Hoare for Mike Sheehan (36), Eoghan O'Connor 0-2 for J Mullane (47), James Kelly for Seamus O'Carroll (72).
Subs not used: Ger Ryan, Eoin Fitzgibbon, Mike McCormack, Padaic Kennedy, John Bourke, Dave Ward, Liam Costello.