Limerick FC 1-1 Dundalk
ON EASTER weekend it was Limerick FC who rose from the dead to salvage a draw against league leaders Dundalk, who conceded their first goal and dropped their first points of the season at Jackman Park on Saturday evening.
Richie Towell’s thunderbolt shortly before half-time looked like being the winner for the champions, but Paul O’Conor stunned the Lilywhites with a last-gasp equaliser to lift Martin Russell’s side off the bottom of the table.
Limerick, to their credit, took the game to high-flying Dundalk from the word go and had the game’s first chance after a quarter of an hour. Conor O’Donnell’s long clearance picked out Dean Clarke, who bore down on goal but was matched all the way by Andy Boyle, who managed to get in a vital block to snuff out the danger.
Paudie O’Connor then flashed a header wide from Ian Turner’s corner as the Super Blues continued their lively start. They were almost caught out midway through the first half, though, when Sean Harding casually lost possession and Ronan Finn lashed a 30-yard volley wide.
As the first half progressed, Dundalk gradually began to turn the screw and had a half-hearted penalty shout when David McMillan hit the deck before making the first incision on 38 minutes.
Robbie Williams gave away a cheap free kick on the left-hand side and, from the resulting set play, the ball dropped to Towell, who let fly from just outside the penalty area with a fierce strike into the top corner of the Limerick net.
The second half began at a tepid pace which wasn’t helped by a series of yellow cards dished out by Dave McKeon. Daryl Horgan’s 59th-minute effort whistled into the car park behind the goal before Gary Rogers produced a fine save to deny Clarke, who had been played through on goal.
Limerick had a penalty claim of their own with 20 minutes to go for an apparent handball, but McKeon was not interested. O’Donnell then had to be alert to keep out Darren Meenan’s effort at the other end shortly afterwards and Kurtis Byrne, who had just come on as a substitute, broke clear and raced towards goal, Williams getting back to make a superb challenge to deny the Dundalk striker.
On 88 minutes, Limerick won a corner which was hacked clear by the visitors’ defence at the second attempt. Substitute Darragh Rainsford, who had barely been on the field, delivered a long throw which O’Connor flicked on and O’Conor got his head to it to spark celebrations among the home fans at Jackman Park.
Dundalk almost won it at the death when Finn’s initial effort drew a splendid double save from O’Donnell, although ultimately Limerick got the draw that their performance merited. It may have been one of Dundalk’s less impressive displays this term, but it was certainly among Limerick’s best and the Super Blues became the first team to thwart the champions in 2015.
Limerick FC: O’Donnell; Harding, O’Connor, Price, Williams; Duggan, Turner; Hughes (Faherty 67), Russell (Rainsford 88), Turner; Clarke.
Dundalk: Rogers; Gannon, Gartland (Barrett 46), Boyle, Massey; Shields, Towell; Meenan, Finn, Horgan (Mountney 74); McMillan (Byrne 78).
Referee: Dave McKeon (Dublin)