Limerick FC 2-0 Cobh Ramblers
FIRST half goals from Lee-J Lynch and Chris Mulhall were enough to give Limerick FC a 2-0 victory over Cobh Ramblers at Markets Field on Saturday evening, the leaders recording their 16th win from 17 league games and moving to within five wins of confirming promotion.
Martin Russell also had the pleasure of seeing captain Shane Duggan return to action after missing several weeks through injury, the midfielder coming on for the final 30 minutes of the game.
Limerick created most of the early opportunities, although Cobh served danger of their intent when Charlie Fleming got in behind the hosts’ defence, only to scuff his shot wide.
The home side came close to scoring on the quarter-hour when a spot of pinball in the penalty area ultimately resulted in the ball falling kindly for Cobh goalkeeper Paul Hunt, before the deadlock was broken in marvellous fashion on 25 minutes. Lynch, who was Limerick’s skipper on the day, got the better of two Cobh defenders and then let fly from outside the box. Hunt got a hand to it but the shot was too powerful for him to keep out and the home side had the lead they deserved.
After 31 minutes, Shaun Kelly’s shot from distance was pushed behind by Hunt and, with Cobh failing to fully clear the resulting corner, the Limerick right-back had the opportunity to provide a neat cross for Mulhall to plant a firm header past Hunt to double Limerick’s advantage.
Cobh nearly shot themselves in the foot a couple of minutes later when some slack play at the back was seized upon by Mulhall, but he fired straight at Hunt from inside the penalty area. The forward was almost in again four minutes before the interval, receiving the ball from Sean McSweeney after an intricate passage of play, but Hunt was up to the task once more. In any event, Mulhall had strayed just offside.
Even at half-time, the result seemed inevitable and the second half was comfortable for the home side, perhaps too comfortable as they dropped the intensity a couple of gears. One Sean Russell free kick did have Hunt backtracking to make a save, while Markus Gustafsson managed to force a rare save out of Freddy Hall at the other end.
Duggan made his entrance to a tumultuous reception on the hour mark and he looked anything but rusty upon his return, putting in an industrious 30 minutes for the home side. Just after he entered the game, Greene fizzed an inviting cross towards Stephen Kenny, who couldn’t quite get a header on it for the tap-in that would have made absolutely sure of the points.
A marvellous double block from Cian Kingston then denied Limerick a few minutes later, while Duggan and Greene had opportunities as the match entered its final 15 minutes. From that point, the Super Blues seemed to call it a day and Cobh sensed that there could be a goal in it for them to make the closing minutes quite nervy at the Markets Field.
Stephen Henderson’s side, to their credit, never let up in their pursuit of the goals that would get them back into te game, with Fleming’s volley being skied over, Garry Comerford being allowed to run 20 yards unchallenged before getting a shot off and Rob Lehane flashing an effort across the face of Hall’s goal. Limerick had the ball in the Cobh net late on, Shane Tracy tucking home Ross Mann’s pass, but it was ruled out for offside.
It was a sense of job done on the day for Limerick, who Martin Russell admitted were sloppy in the final 20 minutes, while Cobh fell three points behind Drogheda United in their pursuit of a play-off spot. A clean sheet and the return of Duggan, though, left a pleasing taste in the mouths of Limerick supporters as promotion draws one step closer.
Limerick FC: Hall; Kelly, O’Connor, Whitehead, Russell (Tracy 85); O’Conor, Lynch; Kenny (Mann 79), McSweeney (Duggan 60), Greene; Mulhall.
Cobh Ramblers: Hunt; O’Riordan, Mulcahy, Kingston; Fleming, Comerford, Murphy, O’Connor, O’Donnell (G McCarthy 78); Gustavsson (Lehane 65), McGreevy (Creamer 65).
Referee: Eoghan O’Shea