Limerick 1 - 0 Athlone TownFri, Sep 28 2012
Homepage image courtesy of Steve Alfred
A Sean Brosnan strike five minutes from full time was enough to see Limerick put one hand on the First Division trophy as the Blues scraped past Athlone Town by a goal to nil at Jackman Park.
A rain-soaked Shannonside played host to a very scrappy First Division clash in which chances were aplenty, but unfortunately, so was bad finishing.
Corie Treacy was the only change to the Limerick side that overcame SD Galway last weekend, while Athlone made five changes to the side that fell to Mervue United.
It was the visitors who were gifted the first real chance of the night after some sloppy defending from Corie Treacy. Mark Sherlock was gifted possession on the edge of the Limerick box, but instead of progressing, the Athlone frontman decided to take a snapshot. His effort was fluffed and rolled harmlessly into the arms of Barry Ryan.
The conditions made for some passages of play at times; Limerick often seeing their footwork let them down at crucial moments. In what is a pitch known for its drainage, Jackman’s surface had a real battle on its hands.
The warning signs were there for Limerick all night and it was that man Mark Sherlock once more who had those on in attendance on the edge of their seats. Upon controlling a cross-field ball, Sherlock took aim and curled a beautiful effort towards the top corner only to be denied by the woodwork.
A period of Limerick pressure ensued with really creating anything clear cut, although the partnership of Limerick’s front two was a throwback to the olden days of big man and small man combinations. The pairing almost paid dividends before the half as a fantastic ball from Stephen Bradley was controlled by Denis Behan on the left wing. His teasing cross trickled across the face of goal was fell agonisingly out of reach of young Cian Collins at the far post.
Many will argue that Athlone were value for a point and you could find it hard to disagree as the Town frustrated Limerick on many occasions, as well as dominating for spells in a ground that not many sides leave with points from.
After soaking up a Limerick attack, a long ball from the back almost caught Limerick out. Stephen Relihan was the beneficiary and his effort was deflected out for a corner after being blocked. The early spell of pressure from Athlone in the second half left a sense of insecurity among the home fans.
The introduction of Dominic Foley just shy of the hour mark gave Limerick that bit more control up top. Despite scoring goals at the highest level, Foley was denied twice in the space of two minutes. His first effort should have found the back of the net as he went one-on-one with Pat Jennings. The ex-Braga striker smashed the ball narrowly wide.
Just moments later, it was that man Foley once more who was in the thick of the action. A sweeping Joe Gamble cross from the right was headed down by Denis Behan. The dropping ball was met by the boot of Foley who struck the outside of the post with his venomous half volley.
Next up it was Denis Behan to spurn an opportunity. Good work from David O’Leary on the right wing was topped off with a wonderful cross, Behan met it with power, but not direction.
Chances seemed to come in pairs for Limerick’s strikers; Behan had another golden opportunity just three minutes later. A cute through ball that dissected the Athlone defence found the local talisman running clean through. As Jennings arrived, Behan slid as the ball went under the outrushing Athlone stopper, but also flew past the left hand post.
Just as it seemed that Waterford United could be handed a lifeline, Limerick’s youth policy found its way into the headlines in the most dramatic of fashion as Sean Brosnan rocketed home from twelve yards. The young Castleisland native miscontrolled at first with his right foot, but the ball fell kindly to his left and from there, he made no mistake.
As the ball struck the back of the net, the home support was sent into raptures. The seven hundred plus strong crowd leapt up and down in joyous celebration of a late winner that means anything other than a Waterford United win tomorrow night could hand them the trophy.
As the referee blew for full time shortly after, the celebrations from players and fans alike were images that won’t be forgotten on Shannonside for a long time.
Limerick FC: Barry Ryan; Shaun Kelly, Corie Treacy, Paddy Purcell, Shane Tracy; Stephen Bradley, David O’Leary (Steven McGann 75), Joe Gamble, Derek O’Brien (Sean Brosnan 65); Denis Behan, Cian Collins (Dominic Foley 52).
Subs not Used: Shane Cusack, Robert Kluciar, Jeffrey Judge, Garbhan Coughlan.
Booked: Gamble (35), Behan (45), Bradley (82).
Athlone Town: Pat Jennings; Damien Rushe, Brian McCarthy, Ross Kenny, Neil Harney; Stephen Relihan, Barry O’Mahony, Sean Skelly (Joe Woods 80), Garvan Broughall (Jordan Conroy 60); Mark McGoldrick, Mark Sherlock.
Subs not Used: Gareth Higgins, Kevin Williamson, Lee Seung, Ethan Keogh.
Booked: McGoldrick (10), Harney (73).
Referee: Jim McKell.
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Brian McCarthy (Athlone Town).
Andrew joined Extratime for the 2010 season and covers all the on-goings down in Limerick. Having first experienced the League of Ireland in 2002, Andrew became hooked, even at such an early age. He is currently studying English and New Media at the University of Limerick. You can contact him via Twitter @Cunneen92.