Derry 0-16 Limerick 0-4
Derry continued their blistering start to the season with a 12-point hammering of Limerick at Owenbeg in the opening game of Division Two of the Allianz Football League.
The reigning Ulster champions rarely got out of second gear but were too good for a Limerick side that never threatened at all.
Shane McGuigan top-scored for the winners with nine fine points, with Niall Toner weighing in with four.
Under the guidance of Billy Lee, Limerick earned promotion from Division Three last season before making it as far as the Munster final, losing out to eventual All-Ireland champions Kerry.
Ray Dempsey has succeeded Lee with the twin objectives to stay up and to stay in contention for a Sam Maguire berth. The Treatymen, however, have pulled the short straw when the fixtures computer pulled out three away games and a home fixture against Dublin as their first four fixtures in the higher division.
A long-awaited provincial title brings both confidence and expectation for the Oak Leaf county. On the back of last year’s breakthrough, Derry carry considerable clout into this season’s National League. Having just missed out on promotion last time, a return to Division One would be nothing short of essential for Rory Gallagher this time around.
In near perfect conditions, Derry ran in five points up at half-time, leading 0-7 to 0-2. Paul Cassidy continued his outstanding early season form and opened the scoring early on, before Niall Toner and Shane McGuigan stretched out the home side’s advantage.
Adrian Enright finally opened Limerick’s account in the 14th minute, pointing after his side’s first meaningful attack. Three more points from the trusty left peg of McGuigan and a free from Toner sandwiched a second point for Limerick from James Naughton.
Limerick briefly threatened after the break when Gordon Browne and Iain Corbett both pointed. Unfortunately for Dempsey it would be the last scoring for his side of a one-sided contested.
Derry, by contrast, while not finding any real tempo and butchering a number of goal chances, scored the last eight points of the game. McGuigan, of course, kick-started the scoring spree, with Cassidy, Toner and Lachlan Murray also raising white flags.
Derry manager Rory Gallagher weighed up the pros and cons shortly after the win.
“A very comfortable win, of course, you’d love to win probably building the scores easier than we did. That was probably a wee bit of over-eagerness from ourselves and bad finishing, but I suppose we won by 12 points so there you go,” said Gallagher.
“Look I wouldn’t be satisfied with a whole lot of it,” he continued. “We have to judge ourselves on where we want to be. But at the same time we also have to live in the real world. It’s the 28th of January and we’re integrating two young players in Lachlan Murray and Eoin McEvoy. I’d be happy to a large degree but it’s going to be hot and heavy the rest of the league.”
DERRY: O Lynch; C McKaigue, E McEvoy, C McCluskey; P McGrogan, G McKinless, C Doherty; C Glass, B Rogers; N Toner (0-4, one free), P Cassidy, E Doherty; B Heron, S McGuigan (0-9, five frees), L Murray (0-1).
Subs: P Cassidy (0-2) for G McKinless (50), O McWilliams for E Doherty (53), N Loughlin for B Heron (63), N O’Donnell for C Glass (68), B McCarron L Murray (70).
LIMERICK: D O’Sullivan; D Connelly, S O Dea, B Coleman; B Fanning, C Fahey, M Donovan; C Sheehan, I Corbett (0-1); P Maher, J Naughton (0-1), G Browne (0-1); A Enright (0-1), C Downes, D Lyons.
Subs: R Bourke for B Fanning (h-t), H Bourke for D Lyons (50), C McSweeney for B Coleman (55), P Nash for A Enright (64), K Ryan for C Downes (68),
Referee: N Mooney (Cavan).