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JOE'S TRIPLE WHAMMY; GAA - LAST NIGHT: LIMERICK CAUGHT OFF-GUARD.

Byline: By PAUL KEANE

OFFALY 3-19

LIMERICK 0-18

All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship, Rd 4

JOE BERGIN hit a stunning hat-trick as underdogs Offaly delivered the first big shock of the All-Ireland hurling championship last night.

The full-forward netted twice in the first-half and once after the break - 3-2 overall - to sensationally dump 2007 finalists Limerick out.

Nobody gave Offaly a chance after taking a hammering from Kilkenny in the Leinster semi-final.

But with 19-year old Bergin at the point of their attack they delivered a stunning display full of style and substance.

Amazingly, last September's All-Ireland finalists Limerick never led and trailed by a whopping 11 points at half-time.

In fact, their own fans at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick City booed them off the pitch at the break.

Boss Richie Bennis rung the changes and with the wind at their backs everyone expected a fightback just like last year's tussles with Tipperary.

But aside from for points in a row to restart the second-half it never arrived and Bergin's third goal 20 minutes from time effectively sealed victory.

Offaly go into this evening's draw for the final round of qualifiers while Limerick join Dublin, Laois and Antrim in exiting the championship's back door.

The writing was on the wall early on as Offaly picked holes in a leaky Limerick defence that conceded four goals to Clare in the Munster SHC.

Bergin seized on a loose ball after 15 minutes to fire his first goal, but Limerick's defence had plenty of chances to clear their lines.

Bergin's second after 20 minutes was a touch of brilliance as he sprinted clear before hammering to the roof of Brian Murray's net.

It was an inspirational strike and Offaly began to hit points from all angles to open up a massive 2-11 to 0-6 lead.

It was crunch time for hosts Limerick and they reopened with points from Andrew O'Shaughnessy, 0-2, and subs Pat Tobin and Donnacha Sheehan.

But Bergin flicked home a 50th minute goal from Gary Hanniffy's sideline cut and from there Offaly cruised over the finish line.

OFFALY: Bergin 3-2; Carroll 0-6 (1f, 1 65); Dooley 0-6 (1f); Molloy 0-2; Murphy, Currams & Horan 0-1 (65) each.

LIMERICK: P Tobin 0-5; O'Shaughnessy 0-4 (2f, 1 65); N Moran 0-3; Ryan, McNamara, Foley, Sheehan, K Tobin & Geary 0-1 (65) each.

CAPTION(S):

KEEP OFF: Offaly's Shane Dooley shadows Seamus Hickey last night
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUIR
Date:Jul 13, 2008
Words:400
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