Limerick FC played out a highly entertaining scoreless draw with Longford Town at Jackman Park to maintain their three point advantage over the Midlanders.
The near-thousand strong crowd at Jackman Park will feel their admission was money well spent as the home side displayed some top class football but inevitably, could not find the net. While both sides will take the point, perhaps Pat Scully will feel slightly hard done by after seeing his team play so well.
The opening ten minutes displayed the usual uncertainty teams emit when settling into a big game. An atmosphere soaked Jackman Park saw Longford start the game with pace. While Limerick tried to maintain possession, “The Town” were always first to the second balls and really proved a thorn in Limerick’s side in the opening stages.
Daniel Purdy, who looks a real talent, provided Longford with their first half chance. Just outside of the twenty minute mark, Purdy received the ball on the edge of the box, shimmied, and blasted an effort just past Dave Ryan’s post, and into the side netting.
It is very feasible that Longford might well have taken the lead if not for Slovakian defender Robert Kluciar. So many times it was Kluciar making the vital interception to deny Gary Shaw being played through. He looks to really have settled into the side.
As the half hour mark came and went, the Limerick side underwent a transformation. Their energy levels improved, their use of the ball improved and their determination improved tenfold. They almost took the lead when a fantastic cross from Sean Brosnan found Jeffrey Judge at the near post. Des Hope just edged Judge out of the way and steered the ball wide for a Limerick corner.
In the midst of all this Limerick dominance, Longford should have snatched an opener. A poor kick-out led to Daniel Purdy travelling with the ball. He took a heavy touch, and it appeared that Limerick ‘keeper David Ryan had the ball under control. Missing his kick, Ryan was outpaced by Purdy who crossed into the box, looking for a supporting player to tap into an empty net. Pat Purcell was on hand to save Ryan’s blushes as the leader of the Limerick side cleared his lines.
From almost costing his side a goal, Dave Ryan produced a very intelligent ball to the powerhouse that is Rory Gaffney. Gaffney somehow managed to control with his back, flick it over his head, and run onto the bouncing ball. From there, he opened up his body and unleashed a curling effort that looked destined for the top corner. Craig Hyland was at full stretch, and much to his relief, he saw the ball drift agonizingly wide of his right hand post.
The most controversial incident of the game arrived just minutes before the half. Brosnan broke down the left wing once more to deliver a deep cross toward Judge. Although the cross was deflected away by Hope, it fell to the outstretched foot of Jeffrey Judge who looked to have squeezed the ball over the line from the tightest of angles, after hitting the crossbar. The linesman on the near side kept his flag down, and referee Keith Callanan waved play on.
Limerick started the second half as they finished the first; hitting the woodwork. Shane Tracy delivered a cross towards Steven McGann. McGann flicked on, Gaffney laid off, and Jeffrey Judge spun and struck toward goal. His effort seemed to take an age to finally hit the post and run out of play.
Rory Gaffney was the centre of every Limerick attack. The former Mervue United striker has been a sensation this season for the Blues and it would not be a surprise to anyone if he went onto bigger things. He delivered a dangerous cross with twenty minutes to go, but saw it deflect off Keith Gillespie , and almost loop over Craig Hyland, and into the back of the net.
Dominic Foley was the next guilty party as he spurned a glorious opportunity from no more than ten yards with a glancing header. Limerick could have won this game five-nil.
For the remainder of the game, Longford showed their organisation, while Limerick showed their class. A stalemate was produced, but Corie Treacy could well have snatched it with just a minute to go as his volley was struck straight at Hyland, but luck didn’t appear to be on Limerick’s side on the night.
A cracking display from Limerick will send their fans home happy, while Longford can be quite pleased with their performance. Both sides look full value for a place in the Premier Division.
Limerick: David Ryan; Shaun Kelly, Robert Kluciar (Corie Treacy 59), Paddy Purcell, Shane Tracy; Sean Brosnan (Stephen Bradley 74), Joe Gamble, Steven McGann, Jeffrey Judge; Dominic Foley (Denis Behan 70), Rory Gaffney.
Subs not Used: Barry Ryan, Shane Guthrie, Garr y Sheahan, James McGrath.
Bookings: Judge (74).
Longford Town: Craig Hyland; Noel Haverty, Des Hope, Willo McDonagh, Michael Lee; Keith Gillespie, Daniel Purdy (Alan Kirby 64), Robert Bayly (Mark Salmon 64), Karl Bermingham; Thomas Crawley (Tony Griffiths 70), Gary Shaw.
Subs not Used: Paul Hunt, Niall O’Reilly, Darragh Reynor, Craig Walsh.
Bookings: Lee (32), Purdy (43).
Referee: Keith Callanan.
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Rory Gaffney (Limerick FC).