Spot on Limerick FC into quarter-finals

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Steve Bradley scores decisive penalty as Limerick FC advance intLimerick FC 1-1 Waterford United (AET, Limerick won 4-2 on penalties)

IT may have taken a penalty shoot-out to do it, but Limerick FC laid the curse of Waterford United at Thomond Park on Monday night to advance to the quarter-finals of the EA Sports Cup.

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Vinny Sullivan gave the visitors a first half lead that they held until deep into stoppage time when Limerick substitute Barry Sheedy pounced to force an extra 30 minutes and, subsequently, penalties.

Limerick dominated possession in the opening exchanges but created precious few chances against a Waterford team which belied its status as managerless and struggling in the First Division.

The Noresiders were well organised and even took the lead in the 30th minute when Aidan McGrath’s pinpoint cross was headed into the Limerick net by the unmarked Sullivan.

Limerick continued to press for a goal but Waterford goalkeeper Charles ‘Chip’ Sanders was never called into action and a low-key first half was unusually brought to a close on 44:52 by referee Alan Kelly.

The home side came very close to equalising early in the second half when Stephen Folan tried his luck from 35 yards and his rasping shot cannoned off the post.

The pattern of play was much the same as in the first 45 minutes, with Limerick bossing possession but failing to fashion goalscoring chances.

Another defeat to 2012 bogey team Waterford United seemed imminent but, in the fourth minute of stoppage time, substitute Sheedy got on the end of Shane Costelloe’s cross, controlling the ball before turning towards goal and finally beating Sanders.

Those spectators who were making their way out of Thomond Park turned on their heels as 30 minutes of extra time awaited, although neither team looked much like seizing the initiative.

Limerick were closest to settling it before penalties, only for Axel Bossekota’s shot from distance to be stopped by Sanders.

Despite going first in the shoot-out, Waterford had one kick saved by Shane Cusack and another struck the post, whereas Limerick were successful with each of their penalties to win the shoot-out 4-2.

The Noresiders beat Limerick four times in the league last year, so the home fans will feel that this victory was long overdue.

Limerick FC: Cusack, Costelloe, Folan, Nzuzi, Tracy, McGann (Rainsford 72), Gamble, Feeney (Bradley 62), Galbraith, Gaffney (Sheedy 77), Bossekota.

Waterford UnitedSanders, White, Long, Kavanagh, Frost (Mernagh 64), McGrath (Higgins 80), Doherty, O’Connor, Ryan, Walshe (Quinn 46), Sullivan.

Referee: Alan Kelly (Cork)

Attendance: 397