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Torture for Limerick as Lilies escape to victory

AFTER James Kavanagh forced a turnover in the right corner-back position and Emmet Bolton sped 80 metres up the field in the 70th minute to rescue Kildare's hides with a dramatic equaliser, Limerick headed for the comfort of the dressing rooms to gather their thoughts.

We don't know what was said but you can imagine that Maurice Horan and Brian Lacey were trying desperately to remove thoughts that invade the minds of underdogs in such moments, that their chance had gone.

Kildare entered a tight huddle out on the pitch and accentuated the positive. They had flirted with disaster but now had 20 minutes to make sure.

"Do you want the expletives?" joked Kieran McGeeney, when asked about the specifics of what might have been said in those key moments.

Parsed down to the basics though, the message handed out to the players was very simple.

"They know they've put in the work and you're trying to get them to believe in themselves, give them a focus of where to put that work.

"That's basically it, there's no magic solution in there. It's up to them once they cross the white line and in fairness they showed the character to do that.

"I thought we were very dominant for the second half. We missed a lot of shots. They had been forcing us out and I thought we were a wee bit silly in our play in the first half in terms of not running the ball and giving the support.

"We tried to address that and we did. But they have quality players that we had to watch for, with (Ger) Collins and Ian Ryan inside.

"The young fella (Eoghan) O'Connor was very tricky. Stephen Kelly, (Stephen) Lucey, (Johnny) McCarthy. They're strong. They've shown it."



Problems

A well-coached defensive system caused Kildare untold problems and they had only eight points on the board with 13 minutes remaining.

Limerick began to tire, though, as the exertions of an extra-time victory over Longford seven days previously began to show.

With Mick Foley in imperious form at midfield, Kildare clawed their way back. Johnny Doyle slotted a 45m free and James Kavanagh reduced the margin to one in the 61st minute.

The leveller didn't come until the death, though, but once they got to extra time, they ruthlessly capitalised on the increased space opening up as a result of Limerick running out of steam.

They fired over six points in the first period of extra time as the fresh legs from the bench - Seánie Johnston, Pádraig O'Neill and Gary White - made a significant impact. "Gut wrenching really," was Horan's reaction. "We were 30 seconds from knocking them out and they got an unbelievable score from their own corner.

"We thought we had our homework done, we held them to 11 points over 70 minutes which is a fair achievement considering some of the scores they can put up."