Limerick FC 4-0 Waterford United
LIMERICK FC scored their 100th goal in all competitions in 2016 on Saturday evening when Chris Mulhall completed his hat-trick in a 4-0 win over Waterford United at a windswept Markets Field.
In their first game since securing promotion to the Premier Division, Martin Russell’s side were two goals to the good inside 10 minutes and controlled the match thereafter to make it 21 league wins out of 23.
When Waterford last visited in late April, Limerick scored inside the first minute. Three was all they needed to hit the front this time, as Sean Russell’s cross was headed downward by Aaron Greene to Mulhall, who finished to the net from close range for his 10th league goal of the season.
The First Division winners doubled their lead on 10 minutes when Stephen Kenny’s free kick was spilled by Waterford goalkeeper James Hussey and Greene was on hand to tuck home the loose ball.
That could have been the cue for the visitors to lay down their arms completely but they went close shortly after that second goal, Sean Noble jinking into the Limerick penalty area before supplying Toyeeb Mustapha, who forced a point-blank save from Freddy Hall.
The Super Blues were nearly in again on 12 minutes when Hussey raced from his goal and took down Mulhall. The home fans called for a red card but the challenge took place near the touchline, so referee John McLoughlin did not deem it a clear goalscoring opportunity.
Mustapha warmed the gloves of Hall again in the 19th minute after Limerick cheaply coughed up possession near their goal. At the other, a neat one-two between Greene and Mulhall led to the former having an effort on goal which Hussey saved.
Mulhall had the ball in the net again on the half-hour mark but the goal was ruled out for offside. Waterford almost had one back on 35 minutes when another tame surrender of possession allowed Noble to get into the box and test Hall. Anthony McAlavey’s follow-up was then stopped on the line by Shane Tracy. Within seconds, a swift counterattack saw Mulhall slip through Greene, but Hussey was out to get a block to it.
Substitute Garbhan Coughlan almost had a tap-in as the first half neared completion, Tracy’s cross just too firm for him, but Limerick were three goals to the good just before the interval. The Greene-Mulhall double act worked its magic again, Mulhall slotting the ball home to kill any hopes of a Waterford revival.
Shortly after the restart, Mustapha bore down on goal and went to ground near the advancing Hall, who was the last man back for Limerick. The Waterford midfielder screamed for a foul but was instead booked for simulation. Limerick should have had a fourth goal on 52 minutes when Hussey hared from his goal and was beaten to the ball by Russell, who shot from an acute angle despite Mulhall being clean through in the centre. The shot took a deflection and, from the resulting corner, a Waterford head diverted the ball towards goal, Hussey reacting quickly to keep it out.
Midway through the second half, Limerick received a penalty, which only one man was going to take. Going for his hat-trick, Mulhall made no mistake to move level with John O’Flynn on 12 league goals for the season. It was also Limerick’s 100th goal of the year.
The home side relaxed in the final quarter of the game and Waterford continued to plug away in pursuit of a consolation goal. Hall turned behind a 25-yard shot by McAlavey and the Bermudan goalkeeper also got a touch to Dean Walsh’s effort which fizzed across his goalmouth.
It was another highly satisfactory night for Limerick, who kept a clean sheet, hit the 100-goal mark and moved to within five games of completing the league season undefeated. Now they can turn their attention to the EA Sports Cup final against St Patrick’s Athletic in two weeks’ time. Judging by the queues for tickets at half-time in this game, the Markets Field will be absolutely heaving on September 17th.
Limerick FC: Hall; O’Conor, O’Connor, Williams, Tracy (Mann 64); Lynch, Duggan (Feeney h-t); Kenny (Coughlan 33), Greene, Russell; Mulhall.
Waterford United: Hussey; Buckley (Butler 18), O’Leary, Sinnott, McGuire; Noble (Keane 72), Eghe Ohenmwen; Mustapha (Mooney 75), Galvin; McAlavey; Walsh.
Referee: John McLoughlin