Airtricity League First Division

November 7, 2018

Limerick captain Pat Purcell ensured his side gained all three points by scoring the only goal of the game for the second week in a row as they overcame bottom of the table Finn Harps at Jackman Park on Friday evening.

The game started in a lively fashion as both sides seemed to keep the ball on the floor; a major factor in Limerick’s success thus far. The first real chance came in the shape of a set piece as Shane Tracy had his beautifully struck free kick acrobatically tipped around the post by the impressive Ciaran Gallagher. The young keeper was very much on form as he would pull off a number of saves to deny the home side comfort.

Harps’ first chance fell to the very man they would have wanted it to in Kevin McHugh. Brian O’Callaghan sliced his clearance, the ball fell kindly to McHugh who went one-on-one with Ryan but the Harps frontman could do little but warm the Limerick stopper’s palms with a weak effort. Harps would regret this miss in the long run.

Jeffrey Judge and Corie Treacy made up the right hand side for Limerick, causing trouble throughout. The youngsters combined well and the latter produced a dangerous cross which was cleared, but only as far as Sean O’Connor, who shot just wide of the goal.

The best chance of the first half fell to Kerry native Paudie Quinn. Quinn, who took part in Fulham’s FA Youth Cup run last season, has been a touch of class for the Blues since joining in the off-season. The tireless Shane Tracy went on a darting run from the middle of his own half, kept finding space, and eventually played in Quinn who had taken up the outside left position. His curling effort was just diverted by the fingertips of Gallagher.

Soonafter another of Limerick’s young talents, Judge, whose limitless energy has been an essential factor to Limerick winning games this season received the ball on the right wing, and quickly ran into the space in front of him before being taken out just on the edge of the box by Ciaran Coll. The home support were up in arms at the award of only a yellow card, clearly feeling it should have been a harsher punishment. The resulting free kick came to nothing and referee John Grimes blew for the break.

The second half began at a quicker pace than the first, the urgency obvious to everyone within the confines of the ground. Young Dave O’Leary forced yet another good save out of Gallagher five minutes in. The young Harps keeper was beginning to frustrate the Limerick faithful.

Another chance arrived five minutes later; a long throw enabled Judge to make his way into the box, he then honestly hopped over a challenge just in time to square a perfect pass to O’Connor, but the ex-Shamrock Rovers man couldn’t convert the chance, the keeper the hindrance once more for Pat Scully’s men.

The goal was to arrive half way through the second half as John Frost showed his desire by chasing down what seemed to be a lost cause. He then skipped past a challenge before winning a corner for his side. Shane Tracy delivered a fantastic ball into the box; awaiting it was Purcell to fire home with a magnificently placed header into the far corner. Gallagher had finally been beaten.

Paudie Quinn was next in line for Limerick to have a go, his effort from twenty yards never really looked to trouble the Harps keeper, but did manage to waste a valuable few seconds.

The best second half chance for Harps arrived with five minutes of normal time remaining. What had looked to have been a mindless hoof up the field caught the Limerick defence by surprise and suddenly McHugh found himself in yards of space, approaching Barry Ryan at pace. The veteran striker wasted the chance though, as he shot straight into the hands of Ryan, who managed to push the venomous effort over the bar. The warning bells had rung for the home side not to be sloppy.

Moments later, Marc Brolly found space on the left wing and fizzed a menacing diagonal ball across the box, with no Harps player looking even vaguely interested in it. He was rightly furious with the lack of enthusiasm from his team mates. That was to be the away side’s last chance, as Limerick saw out the three additional minutes with minimal fuss and move ahead of Longford into fourth.

Pat Scully seems to have the right blend of youth and experience in a Limerick side that possess a ‘never say die’ attitude, this evident by their performances over the last fortnight. Two one-nil wins have Limerick right in the mix for the First Division crown this year. They have now only conceded once in the last five league games. Promotion is the ultimate goal on Shannonside this season after a seventeen year exodus from the top flight.

Limerick FC: Barry Ryan, Corie Treacy, Pat Purcell, Brian O’Callaghan, John Frost, Jeffrey Judge, Shane Tracy, David O’Leary, Paudie Quinn (Stephen McGann 84), Peter Hynes, Sean O’Connor (Garbhan Coughlan 62).
Subs not used: Dave Ryan, Peter White, Darren Coleman, Brian McCarthy, Garvan Broughall.

Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher, Keith Conway, Packie Mailey, Aaron McElwee, Ciaran Coll, Paddy McLaughlin, Thomas Bonner, Christy Connaghan (Gary Merritt 73), Gareth Harkin (Garbhan Friel 67), Marc Brolly, Kevin McHugh.
Subs not used: Mark Forker, Aaron O’Hagan, Brian Curtis, Chris Patton.

Referee: John Grimes.

Official Attendance: 351.