Airtricity League First Division

November 7, 2018

A single Jeffrey Judge goal just five minutes into the second half was enough for Limerick FC to defeat a resolute Longford Town at Jackman Park on Friday night.

Limerick’s unusual, yet attacking, shape almost paid off straight from kickoff as Chris Breen rocketed down the line and into the space behind Mick Lee. Jeffrey Judge placed a lofted ball right on Breen’s foot which the striker controlled well before advancing into the box and hitting a cross-shot that drifted harmlessly past Alvin Rouses far post. A positive start for the home side.

While Longford only ever threatened from set-pieces in this game, one notable performer was striker, Don Cowan. His pace and touch were on display for the Limerick faithful and away fans alike as he tore down the flanks, often winning valuable corners for his side.

However, within ten minutes of the start Longford had messed up at the back, Thomas Hyland slicing his clearance to Limerick’s Paudie Quinn who went one on one with Rouse. His powerful effort could only be parried, and Longford captain Chris Deans did well to clear the rebound. Limerick were on the front foot with Quinn, signed from Tralee Dynamo’s, and having featured for Fulham in the FA Youth Cup final two years ago, was particularly prominent.

The opening half ended scoreless though Longford could count themselves lucky not to be behind having created very little, and having looked less than convincing at the back. Goalkeeper Rouse looked shaky throughout, dropping routine crosses and weak shots.

As the second half began, Limerick’s inexperienced central midfield pairing of David O’Leary and Jeffrey Judge seemed to be getting bullied and there was a severe lack of distribution from the middle of the park. Ironically, it was the latter who opened the scoring. A scrap for possession on the edge of the Longford box fell to the feet of Judge, who appeared to lose control of the ball. The midfielder somehow regained his balance, hesitated for a moment, and then planted the ball into the back of the Longford Town net. With that nerves began to ease on Shannonside.

The signing of Brian McCarthy, coincidentally from Longford’s rivals Athlone Town, appears to be good business from Pat Scully as the centre half dealt very well with anything that came his way. He also posed a massive threat from dead ball situations and, just before the hour mark, a long range free kick from John Frost found the McCarthy free inside the Longford area, his header going just wide after poor contact.

One of Longford’s few efforts on goal arrived shortly afterwards as Cowan’s pace once again won a free kick twenty-five yards from goal. Jacques Morley stepped up and curled a good effort into the side netting, although half the ground believed it had gone in.

What was perhaps the move of the game was spoiled by an assistant referee’s flag. Peter Hynes, who was solid and professional throughout, held up the ball well, before placing a beautiful through ball into the path of Paudie Quinn. Quinn approached the box at pace, and squared the ball for a marginally offside Shane Tracy. Tracy tapped home from all of three yards before looking over his shoulder to see the linesman’s flag.

Longford began to push on in search of that equaliser. The introductions of Skelly, Roche and Odalele gave them more attacking options, and they nearly achieved their goal through full back, Michael Lee. A floated corner evaded everyone and found Lee alone at the back post. His downwards header hit the turf only to bounce over the Limerick bar.

As the fourth official declared four minutes of added time a last chance was presented to Longford from a long throw. A flick on at the near post found Cowan tightly marked and his glance on the ball sent it harmlessly over and the pressure was relieved. Jim McKell blew for full time and the home fans went home happy but knowing that a tougher test awaits next week against Shelbourne in Tolka Park.

Limerick FC: Barry Ryan; John Frost, Brian McCarthy, Pat Purcell, Corie Treacy; Jeffrey Judge, David O’Leary, Padraig Quinn (Peter White, 84), Shane Tracy (Sean O’Connor 84); Chris Breen, Peter Hynes.
Subs not Used: Shane Cusack, Garbhan Broughall, Coughlan, Stephen McGann, Darren Coleman.

Longford Town: Alvin Rouse; Niall O’Reilly, Michael Lee, Des Hope, Chris Deans; Thomas Hyland, Aidan Roche (Austin Skelly, 60), Mark Salmon, Craig Walsh (Lee Roche, 84), Jacques Morley (Jason Oladele 84); Don Cowan.
Subs not Used: Paul Hunt, Aidan Collins, Gary Cronin, Peter Sczerbowski.

Referee: Jim McKell (Tipperary).

Match Report: Andrew Cuneen