Limerick FC 3-1 St Patrick’s Athletic
TWO goals from Ian Turner sent Limerick FC on their way to a fifth league win out of six as they defeated St Patrick’s Athletic at the Markets Field on Saturday evening, consigning the Saints to a fourth consecutive league defeat.
Vinny Faherty was also on target for the Super Blues as he maintained his impressive form in a match where Limerick were a man light for more than hour following Shaun Kelly’s red card for an off-the-ball incident.
St Pat’s made the livelier start and nearly made Shane Duggan pay for carelessly giving away the ball in the seventh minute, leading to a passage of play that ended with Morgan Langley volleying wide.
Freddy Hall was then out to get to Greg Bolger’s floated cross ahead of Jamie McGrath before Turner sent a sumptuous free-kick into the top corner of the visitors’ net on 11 minutes.
In the 16th minute, Conan Byrne delivered an inviting cross from the right towards Langley, who threw himself at the ball with an attempted diving header, but the ball had just too much fizz for Langley to make a telling contact.
Midway through the first half, Langley crossed for McGrath, who took a touch to set himself and gave Limerick the chance to get back and thwart the young striker.
The match could have altered course dramatically a few minutes later when assistant referee Dermot Broughton called Graham Kelly’s attention to an off-the-ball incident between Shaun Kelly and Langley. The St Pat’s midfielder was booked and the Limerick right-back saw red, much to the disgruntlement of the incredibly vocal home support.
The remainder of the first half was played almost entirely within 50 yards of Limerick’s goal as Liam Buckley’s side poured forward in their efforts to maximise their one-man advantage. Langley had the ball in the Limerick net after 35 minutes but the offside flag was up.
As half-time approached, Greene forced a low save from Bermudan goalkeeper Hall before, completely against the run of play, Limerick doubled their lead on 44 minutes. Dean Clarke got the better of Ger O’Brien and Greene made a mess of his attempt at a clearance, leaving Faherty with a simple tap-in.
The Super Blues’ night got even better just three minutes after the interval. Clarke crossed to Turner at the back post, the midfielder stooping to head past O’Malley and pile on the misery for St Pat’s. Turner was nearly in for a hat-trick soon afterwards, but O’Malley was out to gather.
At the other end, Hall was having an inspired game for Limerick and, in the 64th minute, he produced a stunning save to deny Kenny Browne, with St Pat’s laying siege to the home side’s goal but sorely lacking in end product. Their frustration was summed up by a wild Sean Hoare effort midway through the second half which was well off target.
The visitors eventually managed to get on the scoresheet with 10 minutes remaining, as Chambers’ bullet free-kick gave Hall absolutely no chance. Substitute Jack Bayly passed up a glorious chance to set up a very nervy finish to the game in the 87th minute, heading against the post and wide from all of two yards.
In the end, Limerick dug out another character-building win and the gap to Sligo Rovers in 11th is now just two points, a scenario that seemed utterly remote just five short weeks ago prior to Limerick’s season-changing win over the Bit O’ Red on the August bank holiday weekend.
Limerick FC: Hall; Kelly, Kanyuka, Whitehead, Tracy; O’Conor, Duggan; Turner, Lynch (Russell h-t), Clarke; Faherty (Rainsford 85).
St Pat’s: O’Malley; O’Brien, Browne, Hoare, Bermingham; Byrne (Markey 72), Chambers, Bolger, Greene (Bayly 78), Langley; McGrath.
Referee: Graham Kelly (Cork)