Limerick FC 0-2 Derry City
LIMERICK fell to their third league defeat in a row, and a sixth after nine league games, to Derry City at Jackman Park on Monday night.
In a drab encounter with precious little quality, first half goals from Barry McNamee and Mark Timlin ensured that the Candystripes could enjoy their long, late trek home.
Peter Hutton’s men were nearly gifted an opener inside three minutes, Shane Duggan cheaply giving the ball away before Robbie Williams was alert to block Patrick McEleney’s shot.
Limerick then went close when Vinny Faherty found Dean Clarke on the left and he crossed to Paul O’Conor, whose close-range shot was well saved by Ger Doherty.
In the 19th minute, Limerick goalkeeper Conor O’Donnell carelessly kicked the ball straight out to Dean Jarvis, who picked out Timlin in the penalty area. O’Donnell, to his credit, atoned for his error by denying the Derry midfielder.
Limerick had another opportunity when Duggan manoeuvred into the Derry penalty box and shot on goal, Seanan Clucas getting back to clear off the line.
On 23 minutes, Philip Lowry played in McEleney for a scoring chance and O’Donnell charged from his goal to bring down the Derry striker. The Limerick keeper was booked and, from the penalty spot, McNamee buried the ball to the net to give the visitors the lead.
Martin Russell’s men almost conceded in calamitous fashion a couple of minutes later when O’Donnell looked set to gather an attempted chip by McEleney, only for Williams to frantically get a head on it and the ball just about trickled into the side netting, with Limerick pulses no doubt racing for a couple of seconds.
From there on, Derry were in total control and, after a couple of half-chances towards the end of the first half, they doubled their advantage just before the interval. In stoppage time, Timlin found space on the right to curl a neat effort into the far corner of O’Donnell’s net for 2-0.
The second half was largely forgettable, with Derry comfortable with their two-goal lead and Limerick unable to muster any real response. They did create a brief moment of panic in the Derry penalty box on 55 minutes, a goalmouth scramble ending with Aidan Price’s shot being blocked, while Sean Houston looped a header over the bar at the other end.
O’Donnell’s ball distribution was questionable but he made up for it with some fine saves, the next one coming in the 62nd minute as Derry counterattacked with McNamee slipping through Lowry, who was prevented from inflicting further damage by the advancing Limerick keeper.
Limerick were reduced to half-chances, Ian Turner’s inviting 74th-minute cross that sailed over every intended recipient’s head the best they could manage. O’Donnell continued to frustrate Derry, meanwhile, keeping out McEleney’s shot in the closing minutes.
Both teams missed gilt-edged opportunities towards the end of the game. McNamee couldn’t find the target with his header and, in added time, Limerick substitute Kieran Hanlon could only hit the post from three yards out, with Duggan then flashing a shot wide.
Derry didn’t have to do anything extraordinary to claim all three points, their tally on the night matching Limerick’s haul from nine league matches. With almost a third of the season gone, that isn’t a statistic which will help the Super Blues supporters to sleep easily.
Limerick FC: O’Donnell; Harding, Price, Williams (Whitehead 90+1), Tracy (Turner 73); Hughes (Hanlon 73), O’Conor, Duggan; Clarke, Faherty, Russell.
Derry City: Doherty; Sharkey (Curran 76), S McEleney, Barry, Jarvis; McNamee, Clucas; Timlin, Lowry, Houston; P McEleney (Boyle 90+5).
Referee: Derek Tomney (Dublin)