Soccer – Limerick a point away from clinching promotion

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Garbhan Coughlan (left) is congratulated by Chris Mulhall after opening the scoring for Limerick FC against Cabinteely on 16 April. Photo credit: Conor Wyse.
Garbhan Coughlan (left) is congratulated by Chris Mulhall. Photo credit: Conor Wyse.

Limerick FC 2-0 Cabinteely

LIMERICK FC need just one more point from their final seven league games to secure an immediate return to the Premier Division after Saturday’s facile 2-0 win over Cabinteely at the Markets Field.

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First half goals from Shane Tracy and Garbhan Coughlan ensured that Martin Russell’s side clocked up yet another victory and if they can so much as draw with UCD in two weeks’ time, they will be mathematically promoted.

In what was a rather tepid affair, Limerick dominated from the outset and went close inside the opening five minutes when Robbie Williams headed over from close range from a corner.

Cabinteely did cause a momentary scare on nine minutes when Ben Hanrahan’s shot required a last-ditch block from Tony Whitehead to prevent the visitors from taking a surprise lead and instead it was the Super Blues who drew first blood after 18 minutes. From a free kick on the right flank, Tracy spotted a gap overhead Cabinteely goalkeeper Michael Kelly and promptly sent the ball over everyone and into the far corner of the net. Even by the ex-Arsenal man’s standards, this was a beauty of a free kick.

Aaron Greene had a decent opportunity to double the lead on the half-hour mark when Shaun Kelly delivered a brilliant cross to him at the back post and he took a touch to set himself, but he scuffed his shot. A minute later, Michael Kelly stood up well to thwart Coughlan, who also forced a fine save from the keeper after a powerful drive on 36 minutes.

Coughlan did manage to find the net as half-time approached and it was a magnificent goal from the midfielder, too. He jinked his way past two Cabinteely defenders on the edge of the penalty area and coolly dispatched the ball beyond Michael Kelly to give Limerick an ideal cushion just before the break.

The second half was played at pedestrian pace, with the Super Blues in total control as Cabinteely entered damaged limitation mode. Shane Duggan had a chance to add a third Limerick goal shortly after the interval following a slack Edward McDonagh header, but the skipper’s shot was deflected over.

After a prolonged, substitution-filled lull, Paul O’Conor drew a good save from Michael Kelly midway through the second half, the ex-Drogheda man having just replaced Duggan. O’Conor had another opportunity on 80 minutes after getting on the end of a cross from Tracy, but he couldn’t direct his header on target from 12 yards. Cabinteely had a late half-chance when Hanrahan played a through ball to Joe Doyle, an under-employed Freddy Hall showing he was alert as ever as he charged out to eradicate any possible danger.

Limerick won a stoppage time penalty when Christian Lotefa was adjudged to have handled the ball. Some home fans amusingly pleaded for Hall to take the spot kick; instead the responsibility went to O’Flynn. The normally lethal striker blazed the penalty over the bar, but it was a mere footnote in a game, and a season, whose conclusion was long since known.

With a 21-point lead and seven games to play, in addition to a goal difference 44 better than that of their nearest rivals, Limerick are to all intents and purposes promoted already. After all, they’re undefeated and have only dropped four points all season. Should they maintain that unbeaten record away to UCD on August 28, they will be crowned First Division champions.

 

Limerick FC: Hall, Kelly, Whitehead, Williams, Tracy; Duggan (O’Conor 67), Lynch; Kenny (Mann 67), Coughlan (Mulhall 84), Greene; O’Flynn.

Cabinteely: Kelly; Maher (Mitchell 60), McDonagh (Lotefa 63), Brennan, McGovern; Slater, Brilly, Boyle (Howard 75), Knight; Doyle, Hanrahan.

Referee: Adriano Reale

Attendance: 1,255