Limerick had to dig surprisingly deep before seeing off a plucky Antrim side 1-19 to 0-19 in an entertaining Division 1B hurling tie at the Gaelic Grounds.

Antrim deservedly led by 0-13 to 0-08 at half-time with Neil McManus sharp in attack.

However, Limerick hit back in the second-half and a goal by sub David Breen after 56 minutes proved to be the crucial score as they bagged the points. 

Limerick manager John Allen admitted afterwards that he was relieved to get the win after Antrim, under new boss Kevin Ryan, were the dominant team in the opening half.

They won most of the 50-50 challenges and pulled away in the second quarter after the sides had exchanged points five times.

McManus fired over two good points from the right-wing and KB McShane and Stephen Beattie also found range before another brace from McManus pushed Antrim 0-11 to 0-05 after 28 minutes.

Declan Hannon gave Limerick some hope with a couple of points and Shane Dowling also hit the target after McManus and Mattie Donnelly had pointed for Antrim.

McManus extended Antrim’s lead to 0-14 to 0-08 a minute after the restart but Hannon hauled Limerick back into the game, hitting three points in rapid succession, two of them frees.

Antrim struggled to regain the momentum of the opening half as the game progressed and they managed just three points from play in the second-half with subs Paddy Doherty and PJ O’Connell finding the range along with Karl Stewart.

But Hannon’s accuracy kept reducing the margin and they hit the front after 56 minutes when David Breen flashed home a goal with a ground shot.

Stewart’s point left just one between them but James Ryan, Hannon, Paul Browne and the impressive Seamus Hickey landed points for Limerick.

Efforts from O’Connell and McManus late in the game reduced the deficit to three points but Antrim never looked like getting in for an equalising goal in the closing stages as Limerick held on for victory.

Limerick: D Hannon 0-09 (4f, 1 sl), S Hickey 0-04, D Breen 1-00, S Dowling 0-02, P Browne 0-02, G Mulcahy 0-01, J Ryan 0-01.

Antrim: N McManus 0-11 (8f), S Beattie 0-02, M Donnelly 0-01, K Stewart 0-01, KB McShane 00-1, S McNaughton 0-01, P Doherty 0-01, PJ O’Connell 0-01.

Limerick: A Murphy; S Walsh, R McCarthy, T Condon; W McNamara, D O’Grady, G O’Mahony; J Ryan, P O’Brien; D Hannon, S Hickey, P Browne; G Mulcahy, K Downes, S Dowling.

Subs: D Breen for O’Brien, 35; S Tobin for Downes, 57; N Moran for Dowling, 62; A Breen for Mulcahy, 67.

Antrim: R McGarry; A Graffin, C Carson, B McFall; S McCrory, N McAuley, C McKinley; M Donnelly, C Laverty; S Beattie, K Stewart, E McCloskey; N McManus, KB McShane, S McNaughton.

Subs: M Gettens for B McFall, 32; C McFall for Beattie, 43; P Doherty for McShane, 47; PJ O’Connell for Laverty, 52; D McClean for McCloskey, 60.

Referee: J Ryan (Tipperary).