Limerick FC 1-1 Shamrock Rovers
AFTER sustained stubborn resistance, Limerick FC couldn’t quite hold on until the final whistle for a first league win of 2015, with Brandon Miele rescuing a point for Shamrock Rovers after Shane Duggan’s 13th-minute opener at Jackman Park on Saturday evening.
The Super Blues withstood heavy pressure from the high-flying Hoops throughout the second half and were just four minutes away from a landmark result until the Rovers substitute struck.
As many would have expected, the visitors made a purposeful start and Limerick goalkeeper Conor O’Donnell made the first of several good saves on 10 minutes when he kept out Ryan Brennan’s header from six yards.
Martin Russell’s team then hit the front after Vinny Faherty held the ball up well to supply Duggan, who ran through the Rovers defence and finished to the net via the upright.
The Tallaght men had the better of the general play, but their passing wasn’t as crisp as they would have liked and Limerick’s defence coped with whatever was thrown at them.
In fact, it was the home side who ought to have made it 2-0 in the 34th minute when Ian Turner whipped in a beautiful cross from the right and Dean Clarke looked poised to score, but he couldn’t get his header on target from an ideal position.
Shortly before half-time, it was Rovers’ turn to pass up a gaping opportunity. Mikey Drennan crossed from the left towards Keith Fahey at the far post and the former Ireland international missed from four yards. In added time, a Limerick breakaway sent Clarke through but Pat Fenlon’s men snuffed out the danger.
The Hoops thought they were level just before the hour mark when David O’Connor’s cross was headed to the net by Ryan Brennan, only for the goal to be disallowed for offside. Minutes later there was another let-off for Limerick as Gavin Brennan struck the crossbar from close range, having been free at the back post.
It was one-way traffic towards O’Donnell’s goal and the woodwork again came to Limerick’s rescue when Miele smashed a free kick off the crossbar, with an equaliser seeming ever more likely a case of when rather than if.
Shamrock Rovers had a strong penalty appeal turned down for an apparent handball by Paudie O’Connor and then Shane Tracy cleared off the line after O’Donnell’s clearance fell to Drennan.
Limerick’s heroic resistance was eventually broken with only four minutes remaining, Danny North’s deflected shot falling kindly for Miele to lash the ball into the bottom corner.
The home side then had to maintain their concentration against a Rovers team intent on turning one point into three. That would simply have been too cruel on Limerick, who may have been fortunate to keep their opponents at bay for so long but were unfortunate to be denied all three points at such a late stage.
This performance, and that in the 1-1 against Dundalk earlier in April, indicated that Limerick can get results in the Premier Division against the best sides. The burning question now is whether the Super Blues can get enough of them against all the other teams in order to haul themselves off the foot of the table.
Limerick FC: O’Donnell; Harding, O’Connor, Price, Tracy; Turner (Rainsford 73), O’Conor, Duggan, Russell; Clarke (Hughes 83), Faherty.
Shamrock Rovers: Hyland; Madden, Kenna, D O’Connor, Byrne; Cregg (Miele 62), R Brennan; S O’Connor (North 62), Fahey, G Brennan; Drennan.
Referee: Graham Kelly (Cork)