Updated: January 30th, 2023
The Oak Leafers opened their 2023 Allianz Football League season with a 12-point victory over Limerick on Saturday.
by Steven Doherty at Owenbeg
Derry 0-16 Limerick 0-4
Derry led from gun to tape, defeating Limerick by 12 points at Owenbeg on Saturday afternoon.
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 points.
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.
A long awaited provincial title brings both confidence and expectation for the Oakleaf county. On the back of last year’s breakthrough year, Derry carry considerable clout into this season’s Allianz 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 Oakleaf scoring early on, before Niall Toner and Shane McGuigan stretched out the home side’s advantage.
Adrain 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 Niall Toner sandwiched a second point for the Treatymen from James Naughton.
Limerick briefly threatened after the break when Gordon Browne and Iain Corbett both pointed. Unfortunately for Ray 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.
A comfortable first day out for the Ulster men, who travel to face Mickey Harte’s Louth next week. Limerick face a demanding task, hosting Dublin on Sunday.
Teams and scorers
Scorers for Derry: S McGuigan 0-9 (5f), N Toner 0-4 (1f), P Cassidy 0-2, L Murray 0-1.
Scorers for Limerick: Iain Corbett, G Browne, A Enright and J Naughton 0-1 each.
Derry: Odhran Lynch, Chrissy McKaigue, Eoin McEvoy, Conor McCluskey, Padraig McGrogan, Gareth McKinless, Conor Doherty, Conor Glass, Brendan Rogers, Niall Toner, Paul Cassidy, Ethan Doherty, Benny Heron, Shane McGuigan, Lachlan Murray
Subs: Padraig Cassidy for G McKinless (50), Oisin McWilliams for E Doherty (53), Niall Loughlin for B Heron (63), Niall O’Donnell for C Glass (68), Ben McCarron L Murray (70).
Limerick: Donal O’Sullivan, David Connelly, Sean O Dea, Barry Coleman, Brian Fanning, Cillian Fahey, Michael Donovan, Cian Sheehan, Iain Corbett, Paul Maher, James Naughton, Gordon Browne, Adrain Enright, Cathal Downes, Davy Lyons.
Subs: Robbie Bourke for B Fanning (HT), Hugh Bourke for D Lyons (50), Colm McSweeney for B Coleman (55), Peter Nash for A Enright (64), Killian Ryan for C Downes (68).
Referee: Noel Mooney (Cavan).