Limerick FC 4-3 Bohemians
LIMERICK FC gave their survival prospects a significant boost on Saturday evening with a thrilling victory over Bohemians at Markets Field.
Reduced to 10 men for almost all of the second half after Patrick Kanyuka’s red card, the Super Blues twice came from behind to deservedly edge this seven-goal epic and avenge the opening day hammering dished out by Bohs at Jackman Park five months ago.
Limerick were on the front foot from the beginning, with Dean Clarke causing havoc on the left flank. He had a half-chance to score in the 13th minute when he stretched out a boot to try and divert Paul O’Conor’s shot into the net, but couldn’t direct the ball on target.
There was a scare for the home side on 20 minutes when a loose ball from Kanyuka was pounced upon by Jake Kelly, who ran through on goal and drew Limerick goalkeeper Freddy Hall from his line, although the Bermudan got back to ultimately save Kelly’s cross. A minute later, the Bohs man looked primed to score from eight yards after being picked out by Ismahil Akinade, but his shot was straight at Hall.
Limerick drew first blood after 27 minutes when Ian Turner’s cross from the right was met with a bullet header from Vinny Faherty, who sent the ball into the top corner of Dean Delany’s net with conviction.
Bohemians responded well to going behind, with Paddy Kavanagh swivelling in the box before firing over and Akinade’s low cross requiring an important cut-out by Kanyuka. The visitors were level six minutes before half-time, Kelly’s corner headed home by Akinade from all of three yards.
The first half had been evenly contested but any hopes of a similarly competitive second 45 minutes seemed unlikely when, shortly after the restart, Akinade outpaced Kanyuka and the Limerick defender fouled his opponent, who was deemed to have a clear goalscoring opportunity, inside the penalty area. Kanyuka received his marching orders from referee Sean Grant and Kelly dispatched the penalty to put Bohs 2-1 in front.
Limerick manager Martin Russell changed to a 3-4-2 formation and soon brought on his son Sean in place of Ian Turner. There were audible groans from some of the home supporters but it would prove to be an inspired substitution from the Super Blues boss. On 59 minutes, Russell junior unleashed a superb strike from 30 yards which left Delany absolutely helpless and restored parity once more.
A few minutes later, the manager’s offspring played a magnificent diagonal ball to Clarke, who led Jason Caffrey a merry dance before his shot on goal drew a good save from Delany.
Midway through the second half, there was a one-minute spell which raised the temperature of Limerick fans’ blood. Shane Duggan’s long-range effort was spilled by Delany to Clarke, who was bundled over in the box but Grant was unmoved. Bohemians then broke quickly and Kelly got the better of Robbie Williams to leave himself through on goal, slotting past Hall with a tidy finish to edge the visitors back ahead.
It could have been a hammer blow for Limerick but this team is nothing if not resilient. Within three minutes of falling behind for the second time, the Super Blues struck back to level the game at 3-3. A Limerick corner was punched by Delany straight to Lee-J Lynch, who took one touch to control before lashing the ball into the Bohs net.
Just a minute later, Clarke was pulled to the ground by Robbie Creevy inside the penalty area and this time Grant would give the home fans their wish, pointing to the spot to give Shane Tracy the opportunity to tip this extraordinary match in Limerick’s favour. The ex-Arsenal man struck the post with his penalty, but the ball rebounded off Delany’s back and trickled over the line. It was the kind of break which simply wouldn’t have gone Limerick’s way prior to two weeks ago and which any team battling relegation would welcome.
Faherty had the chance to wrap it up with 10 minutes to go, but Delany was equal to his shot, and then Bohemians substitute Adam Evans missed a glorious chance to equalise, missing the target when clean through. The Gypsies piled on the pressure in the closing minutes and would probably have drawn level if Shaun Kelly hadn’t produced a heroic block to deny Dave Mulcahy.
Limerick had to be highly resolute as the game drew to a close, with auxiliary centre-back O’Conor and then Kelly again putting their bodies on the line to keep the visitors at bay. The Super Blues survived five minutes of added time to record a second consecutive victory, one which pulls them to within four points of Sligo Rovers in 11th.
Incredibly, Limerick have picked up as many points in the first eight days of August (six) as they managed in the previous five months. The Markets Field is fast becoming the place to be for any League of Ireland followers who like their goal-fests, with 18 in the last three matches at the Garryowen venue.
One new feature on Saturday evening was the blaring of a disco version of ‘Seven Nation Army’ following Limerick goals. The stadium announcer had ample opportunity to put it into practice and, if Martin Russell’s men can continue to be so prolific and courageous, we might just hear a blast of The Great Escape theme tune later in the year.
Limerick FC: Hall; Kelly, Kanyuka, Williams, Tracy; Duggan, O’Conor; Turner (Russell 56), Lynch, Clarke (Rainsford 86); Faherty.
Bohemians: Delany; Murphy (Creevy 70), Prendergast, Mulcahy, Caffrey; Buckley (Dillon 88), Lopes; Kavanagh, Kelly, Moore (Evans 70); Akinade.
Referee: Sean Grant (Wexford)