Limerick FC 2-0 Shamrock Rovers
LIMERICK FC recorded their first league victory in five with a 2-0 defeat of Shamrock Rovers at Thomond Park on Tuesday night, with goals from Jason Hughes and Rory Gaffney securing the three points.
Stuart Taylor’s men enjoyed a bright start to the game, with long throws causing concern for the Hoops defence. One such set piece arrived in front of both Samuel Oji and Craig Curran in the sixth minute, but neither of them got a touch to it.
Then Hughes found the net on 10 minutes when Gaffney’s long throw into the Rovers penalty wasn’t cleared by the visitors defence and it fell for the midfielder to hammer home.
Trevor Croly’s side were reduced to the occasional opening in the first quarter of the game, with Limerick showing much more purpose in the early stages.
Shamrock Rovers gradually got into their stride, though, and the Limerick back four were soon kept busy. The centre-half pairing of Oji and Stephen Folan, though in its infancy, was keeping Rovers comfortably at bay.
The Hoops’ main threat came down the left flank from Danny Ledwith, whose 31st-minute cross was a perfect height for Eamon Zayed but he couldn’t get in front of Folan, who let the ball sail wide.
Limerick goalkeeper Barry Ryan, no stranger to top class saves, added another to the collection in the 34th minute as he tipped behind Sean O’Connor’s goalbound free kick.
Limerick were awarded a free of their own in a similarly good position just outside the area in the closing first half exchanges, Robbie Williams curling it narrowly over the bar.
The second half began with Shamrock Rovers actively seeking an equaliser and three minutes after the interval Karl Sheppard fired over from close range when he should have done much better.
Soon after that let-off, O’Connor took possession in acres of room near the Limerick penalty area and let fly, only for the ball to fly well over. Rovers continued to press for a goal and on 66 minutes Sheppard was again guilty of coughing up a decent chance after he headed over from a Jason McGuinness free kick, which followed the dismissal of Limerick assistant manager Malky Thomson from the sideline.
From the resulting goal kick, Limerick worked the ball up to Gaffney, who let it bounce before unleashing an exquisite volley over Barry Murphy and into the Rovers net to double the home side’s lead.
The Galwegian tried an audacious shot from out the left seven minutes later, but this time the ball was nowhere near the target. On 77 minutes substitute Axel Bossekota crossed into Curran, whose header was stopped by Murphy.
There was one late scare for Limerick when Oji’s attempted clearance inadvertently went behind him and almost into the net. The chance fell for Conor McCormack, who summed up Rovers’ night by drilling the ball across goal and ultimately out for a throw-in.
It was a harrowing night for Shamrock Rovers, who threatened at times but looked a pale shadow of the team that won back to back titles two years ago. Instead the points went to Limerick, who were defensively solid and made the most of the chances that came their way.
Limerick FC: Ryan, Nzuzi, Folan, Oji, Williams, O’Leary, Bradley, Hughes (Rainsford 90+4), Tiofack (Bossekota 53), Gaffney (Murphy 87), Curran.
Shamrock Rovers: Murphy, McCormack, Elebert, McGuinness, Ledwith, Sheppard (Dennehy 71), Rice, Chambers, O’Connor, Quigley (McCabe 71), Zayed (Stewart 61).
Referee: Graham Kelly