Limerick FC 1-3 UCD
LIMERICK FC fell to a disappointing 3-1 defeat at home to UCD on Friday night, despite taking the lead within two minutes through Craig Curran’s penalty.
The Students fought back with a neat, honest performance to come away with a deserved win and move to within four points of the Super Blues, who now drop to 8th.
Limerick got off to a fast start against Martin Russell’s youngsters in the corresponding fixture in March and only 47 seconds had elapsed when Gareth Mathews brought down Curran in the penalty area and referee Rob Rogers pointed to the spot. The Liverpudlian striker picked himself up to dispatch the spot kick to Ger Barron’s left.
Far from being disheartened by the concession of such an early goal, though, UCD responded by going at Limerick and they were nearly level after just nine minutes. Dean Clarke’s shot was on its way in until Patrick Nzuzi raced back to clear it off the line.
The Students continued to move the ball about with conviction and it was from a swift break that they equalised in the 25th minute. Axel Bossekota’s attempted through ball to Danny Galbraith on halfway was intercepted and, within seconds, Sean Russell’s shot was steered in via the post by Clarke.
In a very open game of football, both teams had their threatening moments, with UCD’s high defensive line catching Limerick narrowly offside on multiple occasions and their own swift play keeping the home side’s defence busy.
UCD hit the front four minutes before half-time when Samir Belhoot’s corner was turned in by David O’Connor, who seemed to get the final touch just ahead of Stephen Folan.
Into the second half, Limerick were being picked open at the back again. Firstly Robbie Benson got the ball in a good position, but his chipped finish was easily gathered by Barry Ryan, who a matter of minutes later was out of his goal sharply to take command just as Craig Walsh was racing through the middle.
Limerick picked up the pace as the game passed the 60-minute mark but, not for the first time this season, they appeared bereft of ideas when they got the ball into the final third of the pitch. On the one occasion when they did look likely to pounce, Galbraith was flagged for offside, even though the ball was inadvertently headed back to him by a UCD defender.
Joe Gamble had a decent chance a couple of minutes later but Barron was able to divert the ball out for a corner. As the minutes ticked by, Limerick got more and more frustrated, with Folan and Dave O’Leary picking up yellow cards for offences that smacked of sheer irritation.
Any lingering hopes of rescuing a point were killed off in the 86th minute as Folan was all too easily dispossessed 40 yards out by UCD substitute Cillian Morrison, who then had time and space to bear down on goal before letting fly from outside the box, all the while unchallenged.
A studs-up tackle by Walsh received a yellow card from Rogers, although on another night it may have been red. There was time for a sending off, though, and it was dished out to Shaun Kelly, whose mistimed challenge on Russell saw him become the latest Limerick addition to this season’s red card count.
Limerick thus fell to a heavy defeat for the second week in a row, following last week’s 3-0 thrashing in Drogheda, and while they are still nine points off the relegation places with eight games to go, upcoming league fixtures against Sligo Rovers and St Patrick’s Athletic look daunting at this moment in time.
Limerick FC: Ryan, Kelly, Folan, Nzuzi, Costelloe, O’Leary, Gamble (Gaffney 73), Bradley, Galbraith, Curran, Bossekota (Rainsford 77).
UCD: Barron, Matthews (Kelly 79), Boyle, Leahy, Russell, Creevy, O’Connor, Walsh, Benson, Clarke, Belhout (Morrison 75).
Referee: Rob Rogers (Dublin)