Airtricity League First Division

November 7, 2018

The fireworks that burst over the housing estates around Lissywoollen added a distinctly ironic touch to the end of this game as Athlone Town succumbed to a rampant Limerick FC, ending their season with a 5-1 home defeat.

There was little at stake here for either side so credit where it’s due to two sets of players who never looked less than committed. Brendan Place was taking charge of the home side for the last time and it was, perhaps, disappointing that such a low crowd turned out to say farewell.

But it was a cold night at Lisseywoollen and with an ominous mist drifting among the floodlights, the few spectators that did turn up could have been forgiven for imagining that the league had already reverted to winter football.

Nor was there much for them to cheer about in the opening stages. It took the guts of fifteen minutes for the first bit of pressure to be exerted and when it came it was the visitors who were responsible.

Mark Nolan conceded a free kick on the edge of the box which Sean Kelly failed to get above the wall. The ball was worked out towards the corner flag where Kelly was fouled again, but this free was cleared without undue stress on ‘keeper Michael Schlingermann.

That remained the highlight until the 23rd minute when Andy Haran fired over for Athlone from 20 yards. On the half hour mark Declan O’Brien threw in his tuppence worth with a shot from the edge of the Limerick area that McGuinness spilled. James O’Brien had to be on his toes to clear from the inrushing Daniel O’Reilly.

Haran had one more rather wild attempt before Limerick made the breakthrough on the cusp of half time. Shane Clarke weaved his way into the Athlone box and tried to put John Tierney through on goal but his pass was blocked by David Breen. Fortunately for him the ball rebounded straight to Clarke who curled a low shot past Schlingermann and into the bottom right hand corner of the net.

The second half began as the first had ended, with a goal for the visitors. Just seven minutes after the restart, and having created two decent chances in the meantime, John Sullivan hit a cracking shot from 25 yards that fizzed low past Schlingermann and into the corner.

Suddenly Athlone were full of holes and Limerick were surging forward at every opportunity. In the 57th minute full back Shane Tracy burst into an acre of unguarded space and launched a shot from distance that Schlingermann could only parry. It fell at the feet of Garbhan Coughlan who duly stroked the ball into an empty net.

Brendan Place shifted Declan O’Brien up front, arguably where he belongs, in an attempt to redress the ever widening balance of power but Limerick continued to threaten and in the 68th minute Jeffrey Judge should have made it four, shooting straight at Schlingermann from ten yards having been played in by a neat turn and pass from Clarke.

Four minutes later and it was four. Schlingermann made a superb save from Coughlan’s fierce effort before substitute, Stephen McGann, was denied on the goal-line by some heroic defending. But the ball then fell to Clarke who flicked the ball in from all of two feet.

One minute later and Declan O’Brien had slid in a heartening reply for his increasingly overwhelmed side but the deluge continued in the direction of the Athlone goal, McGann racing through to beat the chasing Ryan McEvoy and poke a fifth past the beleaguered Schlingermann.

And there were plenty more opportunities too. Clarke drilled a shot across the goal line having beaten Garvan Broughall on the bye-line and Schlingermann produced a superb tip over when Clarke shot from 20 yards in the dying moments.

So a sad end then to Brendan Place’s time at Athlone but a superb second half performance from Limerick yielded a richly deserved win and about as much entertainment as we could have wished for.

Athlone Town: Michael Schlingermann, Mark Nolan, Garvan Broughall, Patrick Collins, David Breen, Declan O’Brien, Stephen Relihan, Ryan McEvoy, Daniel O’Reilly, Andrew Haran (Robert Murray 61), Shane Fitzgerald (Kieran Maloney 61).
Subs not used: Brian McCarthy, Jonathan Mullane, Scott Gaynor.

Limerick FC: John McGuinness, Sean Kelly, Shane Tracy, James O’Brien, Brian O’Callaghan, David O’Leary (Bobby Ryan 47), Jeffrey Judge, John Sullivan, Shane Clarke, Garbhan Coughlan (Fatmadh Dunisha 75), John Tierney (Stephen McGann 70).
Subs not used: Peter White, David Ryan.

Referee: John McLoughlin.

Match Report © Simon O’Gorman

Congratulations to Steven McGann on making his debut for Limerick FC.
At 15 years 358 days, we believe he is the youngest ever player to wear the Limerick shirt and is the youngest ever goalscorer for Limerick.