Diarmuid Kearney reports from the Markets Field
A second-half strike by the departing Graham Burke helped Shamrock Rovers seal a rather lacklustre victory over Limerick at the Markets Field.
Limerick native Joel Coustrain had given the Hoops the lead on the stroke of half time and Burke gave his side the perfect parting gift as he sealed the three points after the break.
Limerick’s woes go from worse to worse with yet another loss making it 13 for the season and, with one win at home this season and no win in five, supporter tensions are starting to grow.
Neither side looked in control in the early stages of the first half, and neither side managed to register any shots on target to trouble the goalkeepers.
Limerick should have taken the lead with 16 minutes played as Daniel Kearns was played in by Mark O’Sullivan but his shot was saved well by Gavin Bazunu.
The rebound fell at the feet of Mark O’Sullivan but his shot was somehow cleared off the line by the head of Joey O’Brien.
Shamrock Rovers never looked like threatening the Limerick goal early on, as Dan Carr's poor effort wide of the target was their best of the opening quarter.
With half an hour played, Burke came within a whisker of making the back of the net bulge as he hit a monstrous dipping shot which just went over the crossbar.
As the half time whistle was about to sound Rovers took the lead. Limerick’s defence failed to clear their lines and one-time potential signing Coustrain fired the ball past Brendan Clarke.
The second half was just two minutes old when Burke doubled his side's lead, the Preston-bound Dubliner running into the area and connecting with a Carr cross to score his 13th and final Hoops goal.
Rovers were all over the Shannonsiders for the remainder and almost increased their lead in the 59th minute as Graham Burke hit a 35-yard free which just managed to hit the wrong side of the post.
Limerick couldn't find their feet in the second half and, despite Rovers maintaining a high pressure, they couldn't catch them on a counter.
The Blues' best chance of the half fell to captain Shane Duggan in the 73rd minute, but he missed the target by a considerable distance.
Burke was substituted in the 82nd minute to a great applause from the travelling Shamrock Rovers supporters as he will now join the likes of Daryl Horgan, Alan Browne, Sean Maguire and Kevin O’Connor in making the switch from the League of Ireland to Deepdale.
Ronan Finn could have added a third goal in the 87th minute but Clarke managed to save well and deny the Rovers captain as most of the home support had already left.
Limerick: Brendan Clarke; Killian Cantwell, Killian Brouder (Tony Whitehead 67), Billy Dennehy, Eoin Wearen; Cian Coleman, Shane Tracey (Colm Walsh O-Loughlen 75), Shane Duggan; Will Fitzgerald (Kark O’Sullivan 65), Daniel Kearns, Mark O’Sullivan.
Subs not used: Tommy Holland (gk), Shaun Kelly, Jeff McGowan, Henry Cameron.
Booked: Killian Cantwell (29), Mark O’Sullivan (31), Billy Dennehy (45), Shane Tracey (59), Cian Coleman (81).
Shamrock Rovers: Gavin Bazalu; Ethan Boyle, Joey O’Brien, Lee Grace, Sean Kavanagh; Sam Bone (Brandon Kavanagh 67), Greg Bolger; Joel Coustrain, Ronan Finn, Graham Burke (David McAllister 82); Dan Carr (Sean Boyd 75).
Subs not used: Kevin Horgan (gk), Luke Byrne, Roberto Lopes, Aaron Bolger.
Booked: Ethan Boyle (38), Graham Burke (82), Grey Bolger (90).
Referee: Sean Grant (Wexford).
Extratime.ie Player of the Year: Graham Burke (Shamrock Rovers).