LIMERICK FC held Premier Division leaders St Patrick’s Athletic to a 0-0 draw at Thomond Park on Saturday night, ending a run of four consecutive defeats in all competitions in a pulsating match which belied the final score.
The Super Blues defied their poor recent form to dominate proceedings against the Inchicore visitors and created several scoring opportunities in the first half, but they had to be resolute at the back after the interval to resist the Saints’ tide.
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After a feisty opening half hour with few chances of note, Limerick then had a five-minute spell where they were unfortunate not to take what would have been a deserved lead.
Firstly, Ger O’Brien got back to make an outstanding interception and snuff out a chance for Craig Curran, and then Samuel Oji hit the side netting from a Dave O’Leary free kick.
St Pat’s laid siege to the home side’s goal in the second half and looked primed to land a stoppage time winner when Killian Brennan lofted the ball into Conan Byrne, but his shot struck the post and the league leaders had to be content with a point. Limerick FC assistant manager Malky Thomson spoke afterwards of the importance of keeping a clean sheet and ending the losing streak.
“A clean sheet was something we spoke about before the game. We know we’re always building and the most important thing tonight was a clean sheet and to stop getting beaten.
“I think both teams had a go. They could have won it and we could have won it. A point was a fair result. I thought the boys acquitted themselves really well.”
Thomson also spoke of how the arrival of centre-back Oji has given the team a much-needed stability in defence, which had been a problem area for Limerick in recent games due to injuries and suspensions.
“We’ve managed now to get a stability and a good balance about the team. We’ve got Sammy [Oji], a right-sided centre-back. For the past games we’ve played, we’ve been asking players to play out of position and it’s been difficult for those players.
“In the last two games we’ve had the same back four. It’s probably the first time in a long time that we’ve been able to do that. We’ve now got a decent right sided centre back in there to give us the balance and we’ve been unfortunate that Brian O’Callaghan and Pat Purcell have been injured long-term. It’s been a struggle.”
Oji, who joined the club two weeks ago, gave a man of the match performance and he was pleased with how his home debut turned out, having also lined out for the Super Blues away to Sligo Rovers a week earlier.
“It was a good performance from the team. On a personal note I was happy with a clean sheet and a good result. Overall I thought we edged them on clear-cut chances and although they did hit the post near the end, I thought we gave as good as we got.”
The much-travelled English defender also spoke highly of the standard of League of Ireland football and he was particularly glowing in his praise of Thomond Park, a venue he believes to be of a similar standard to some top stadia in England.
“I came over here and I knew it was a good standard. The two games that we’ve had, Sligo and St Pat’s, they’re up at the top end of the table for a reason. I thought both teams respectively were good.
“They’ve got some good players and in Limerick we’ve got some good boys. I knew Bradser [Stephen Bradley], I was at Arsenal with him when I was 17. Robbie Williams and Craig [Curran] have played over 100 league games over the road. Joe Gamble has played a lot of league football and we’ve got some of the younger boys coming through so it’s bright over here
“This ground here [Thomond Park], you’d be pushed hard to find a better ground in the Championship. You’re looking at a Championship stadium here. The likes of City Ground and Elland Road, this is up here with that. The surface is top notch as well and the fans today were great. In the last five or 10 minutes I was a bit tired and to be fair their support helped galvanise the boys to get over the line and get the result we deserved.”
Limerick FC’s next game is also at Thomond Park, with Shamrock Rovers paying a visit on Tuesday September 24.
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