Limerick FC undone by St Pat’s rub of the Greene

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Sligo Rovers v Banga - UEFA Europa League First Qualifying Round Second LegLimerick FC 1-2 St Patrick’s Athletic

DESPITE a creditable performance, Limerick had to accept defeat to St Patrick’s Athletic at Jackman Park on Saturday night, a result that leaves the Super Blues still seeking a first league win of 2015 going into April.

Two goals either side of half-time from Aaron Greene secured the points for the visitors, with Ian Turner’s free kick setting up a lively final 15 minutes.

As many would have expected, St Pat’s looked the more likely to score early on and Killian Brennan sent a free kick narrowly over the bar on nine minutes. Soon afterwards he bore down on Conor O’Donnell’s goal, only to be denied by a superb challenge from Limerick captain Shane Duggan.

Having absorbed this early pressure, the home side began to come into the game and midway through the first half they ought to have taken the lead. Dean Clarke played a low cross into Turner, but he shot wide straight in front of goal.

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Clarke then had a chance with a header that he couldn’t get on target before, on the half-hour, St Pat’s made the breakthrough. After Limerick failed to clear from a corner, a goalmouth scramble ensued and it concluded with Greene poking home from close range to give the Inchicore men the lead.

Brennan soon had the opportunity to add to that advantage when he dispossessed Sean Harding and ran towards goal, but his chipped effort was straightforward for Limerick goalkeeper O’Donnell. Brennan went close again on 37 minutes, hitting the side netting after a neat one-two with Greene, and Liam Buckley’s team went in at half-time with that one-goal lead.

St Pat’s thought they were about to double their advantage in the 53rd minute when Conan Byrne’s corner was met by the head of Greene, but a heroic goal-line block from Harding denied the visitors.

A minute later, a long clearance by Aidan Price led to a 50-50 chase where Clarke outmuscled Kenny Browne and fired a dipping volley which St Pat’s keeper Conor O’Malley needed two attempts to gather.

Limerick settled nicely into the second half and gave St Pat’s plenty to think about, O’Malley twice out sharply to deny Clarke before Martin Russell’s team had a penalty appeal for an apparent handball turned down by referee Sean Grant.

After 72 minutes, Greene peeled away from the Limerick defence to latch onto a long ball and he delicately chipped the advancing O’Donnell for his second goal of the night.

That seemed to kill the game off as a contest but the home side replied within three minutes, Turner’s low free kick from just outside the penalty area beating O’Malley and reigniting Limerick.

They nearly drew level just a minute later after Sean Russell’s free kick was whipped into a dangerous area, but Paudie O’Connor was unable to direct his header on target.

St Pat’s ultimately managed to see the game out and pick up their first away win of the season, although they had been made to earn it by an improving Limerick. The Super Blues remain second from bottom with just two points and Dundalk will be in town next Saturday, but Martin Russell took plenty of encouragement from this battling display.

 

Limerick FC: O’Donnell; Harding (Costelloe 63), O’Connor, Price, Williams; Duggan, O’Conor (Mann 82); Rainsford (Hughes 70), Russell,  Turner; Clarke.
St Pat’s: O’Malley; Chambers, Hoare, Browne, Bermingham; Byrne, Bolger, Forrester, Brennan (McCormack 86), Greene; Kilduff.
Referee: Sean Grant (Wexford)
Attendance: 425