Limerick FC 0-3 Drogheda United
LIMERICK FC fell to a heavy home defeat for the second time in four days, going down 3-0 at home to Drogheda United after Monday’s loss to Derry City.
Michael Daly, Gavin Holohan and Cathal Brady were on target for the Boynesiders, who claimed their second win in Limerick this week after the FAI Cup defeat of Ballynanty Rovers on Sunday.
Injuries to Samuel Oji, Stephen Folan and Robbie Williams forced Limerick manager Martin Russell to field a makeshift defence, with Ian Turner filling in at right-back, Patrick Nzuzi partnering Tony Whitehead in the centre and Shane O’Connor handed his first Super Blues start from left-back.
Drogheda started the better and Barry Ryan needed to be on guard in the 10th minute, rushing out to deny Cathal Brady after he was picked out by Holohan’s neat pass.
The home side grew into the game and Jack Doherty on the left flank was particularly impressive. A fine ball from Shane Duggan picked out the ex-Ipswich winger and he found himself with time to cross, but he delayed too long and Drogheda got back to cut out the danger.
Rory Gaffney nearly pulled off what would have been a sublime goal on 20 minutes when he had an audacious go from 40 yards out, the ball narrowly going over the bar.
Duggan was next to threaten for Limerick, his low shot slipping through the grasp of Micheal Schlingermann as the ball hit off the post. Drogheda went close in the 33rd minute after Gary O’Neill’s pass found Cathal Brady, whose low volley struck the post before going wide.
Five minutes before the break, Doherty flicked the ball through to Lee J Lynch, who bore down on goal and found himself one on one with Schlingermann, only for his first-time shot to be directed straight at the Drogheda goalkeeper.
The teams were evenly matched in the first half but after the interval it was all Drogheda. Ryan pulled off a fine one-handed save from Cathal Brady within a minute of the restart and O’Neill glanced a free header wide when he should have hit the target.
The visitors opened the scoring on 61 minutes when Daly’s shot from the edge of the penalty area struck Holohan and looped over Ryan. The shot was goalbound in all probability, hence Daly being credited with it.
After a flickering response from Limerick, Drogheda doubled their lead six minutes later and there was no debate about the goalscorer this time. Cathal Brady got the better of O’Connor and laid the ball to Holohan, who fired to the roof of the home side’s net.
O’Neill was primed to make it 3-0 with 10 minutes to go as he chased a long ball from midfield, but Nzuzi read the flight of the ball superbly to win the 50-50 duel.
Drogheda made full sure of the points with five minutes remaining, Cathal Brady gliding his way past two Limerick defenders far too easily before slotting home from six yards.
Nzuzi again managed to thwart O’Neill in a 50-50 in stoppage time, but the win was long since secure for Drogheda, who won at Thomond Park for the second time this season, atoning for the Super Blues’ 4-1 win at United Park in May.
Although Limerick’s top flight status looks secure for another year, the nature of their two most recent performances will concern manager Martin Russell ahead of the team’s visit to his former club UCD next Friday.
Limerick FC: Ryan, Turner, Nzuzi, Whitehead, O’Connor, Lynch, Agyemang (Tracy 71), Duggan, Doherty, Djilali (Mann 69), Gaffney.
Drogheda United: Schlingermann, Doyle, McGuigan, McNally, Grimes, C Brady, G Brady (Wixted 73), Daly (Crowley 87), Holohan, McGlynn, O’Neill (O’Brien 83).
Referee: Ray Matthews