Airtricity League First Division

November 7, 2018

Not so many years ago Limerick was so short of players the reserve keeper filled in at centre forward to make up the bare starting eleven. Tonight there are no fewer than six subs on the bench tonight and new star signings Behan and Gamble yet to feature. Skipper Pat Purcell, who played then and now, must wonder what’s happening to his famous old club.

The answer is Mrs Sullivan and Mrs McManus whose friendship has paved the way for CEO Pat Sullivan to enlist the aid of JP in his plans to revive the fortunes of Limerick FC. Now, with no disrespect to Messrs Behan and Gamble, their combined transfer fees would hardly buy a fetlock of one of Mr McManus’s better equine properties. But it’s not so much his money as his ability to help make things happen that makes JP McManus key to Limerick’s plans. A return to a re-vamped Markets Field next season to put them back in the big time? No problem. All Pat Scully and his merry men have to do meanwhile is acquire a Premier Division fixture list to match the venue.

For the first forty five minutes of this evening’s encounter at Ferrycarrig promotion looks like scheduled work in progress. Limerick purrs through the rain and gloom, its diamond shaped mid-field sparkling. The Wexford defence looks uneasy. Quinn pounces, home keeper Holden plunges. Judge jabs, Holden clutches. At the other end Barry Ryan, one hurried kicked clearance apart, is doing routine maintenance in his goalmouth.

Limerick again. A finely judged headed flick from Peter Hynes makes space for Judge who curls an elegant effort just over the bar. Surely the visitors must score before the interval? They do, after Judge narrowly misses Treacy’s flashing cross from the right, Quinn retrieves it on the left and sends it back from whence it came for Judge to head home from close range. Thirty three minutes. Nine minutes later another close range header by Quinn from O’Leary’s well flighted free kick from the left makes it two, leaving Youths keeper Packie Holden remonstrating with absent friends.

At the interval the rain stops and so do Limerick. Even keepers as eccentric as Barry Ryan are not supposed to concede a goal directly from a corner kick but Ben Ryan’s swerving, fizzing, bucking flag kick is exceptional and catches him out only four minutes into the second period. Now the Limerick defence has caught the jitters. White’s error is rescued by Purcell’s last ditch tackle. Elmes, on for Walshe, heads wide from Broaders corner on the right and a fine defensive header from Purcell under pressure concedes another.

But Ben Ryan hasn’t finished yet. He gets a free header from a free kick and plants it past his namesake. Seventy four minutes and Youths, who looked dead and buried at half time, are back in the game and showing signs of seizing the initiative. Two minutes later Crag Wall, wrong footed as he covers back, neatly clips a low cross past Holden in to the bottom corner of his own net. The Wexford bubble bursts. Six minutes and forty five seconds of added time after O’Leary is stretchered off late in the game stimulates heat from the Limerick dugout but on the field little of significance. Pat Scully climbs back on the bus wondering how close Behan and Gamble are to match fitness; the Wexford faithful, played eight at home, lost eight, ponder why nobody, certainly not lady luck, loves yer when yer down and out.

Wexford Youths: Packie Holden; Shane Nolan, Karl Keogh, Martin Kehoe, Dean Broaders; Ben Ryan, Patsy Malone (Muzzi Mullen 86), Greg Yelverton (Robert Vickers 80), Craig Wall, Danny Furlong; Darragh Walshe (Tim Elmes 55).
Subs not used: Eoin Kinsella, Mark Phelan.

Limerick: Barry Ryan; Corrie Treacy, Pat Purcell, Brian McCarthy, Andrew Bhandarkar; David O’Leary (Garbhan Coughlan 88), Peter White, Jeffrey Judge, Padraic Quinn (Thomas Lyons 81); Sean Brosnan (Chris Breen 74), Peter Hynes.
Subs not used: Garvan Broughall, Dave Ryan, Stephen McGann.

Referee: Keith Callinan.

Attendance: 100 (estimated).