Aaron Greene hit a goal in either half as St. Patricks Athletic beat Limerick 2-1 in Jackman Park on Saturday night. Ian Turner fired in a free-kick late on but Limerick failed to find the net for a share of the spoils.
The game, played in front of just 425 spectators, was difficult viewing at times with a tricky wind and poor surface that didn’t allow either team to play the type of football they desired.
The visitors, who had lost their previous two away trips of the season attacked with ease from the off. Greene hit the post early on as the influential Chris Forrester provided the opening. Soon after Conan Byrne went down in search of a penalty but it was clear Robbie Williams had played the ball.
At the other end, Sean Russell, Williams and Dean Clarke all had efforts on goal, but none that worried Saints ‘keeper Conor O’Malley. On 22 minutes, Clarke did well to win possession on the endline. His pull back to Ian Turner was skewed well wide much to the displeasure of the muted home support.
Just after the half-hour Pat’s had the lead. Killian Brennan found Forrester and Conor O’Donnell couldn’t hold his shot. Ater a few scuffed efforts from close range, the ball broke to Greene who fired in despite Sean Harding’s presence on the line. Ahead of next week’s Wrestlemania, his RKO celebration was far from fluent, much like the opening goal.
Brennan and then Forrester, two players who enjoyed plenty of possession throughout, had efforts from distance saved by O’Donnell but it remained 1-0 at the change of ends.
Limerick were more positive after the break but chances were still at a premium. Dean Clarke was quicker than Kenny Browne to the ball on several occasions. Ian Bermingham appeared to bring the attacker down, but referee Sean Grant waved away appeals from those in blue.
Sean Harding had a go from distance but was wayward. His importance was felt at the other end moments later though when Greene heading a Byrne corner for the top corner only for Harding to head clear.
With less than 20 minutes remaining, Greene found his second of the night. Ciarán Kilduff flicked on a long ball and with O’Donnell on his way out Greene weighted a wonderful lob over him to give Pat’s a two goal cushion.
Limerick to their credit didn’t throw in the towel. A hotly disputed free-kick after Browne fouled Clarke gave the Shannonsiders their chance.
A poorly placed wall allowed Turner to fire in his second goal in as many games with a low right footed shot. Pats didn’t give Limerick much opportunity to snatch a point after that with Forrester coming closest to the games fourth goal but Aidan Price cleared the shot off the line.
In the end the Saints were deserving winners, though they seemed to take the foot off the pedal in the second period. It doesn’t get any easier for Limerick, as champions and current league leaders Dundalk are next to visit Jackman Park.
Limerick FC: Conor O’Donnell; Sean Harding (Shane Costelloe 63), Paudie O’Connor, Aidan Price, Robbie Williams; Ian Turner, Shane Duggan (c), Paul O’Conor (Ross Mann 82), Sean Russell, Darragh Rainsford (Jason Hughes 70); Dean Clarke.
Subs not Used: Tommy Holland (gk), Tony Whitehead, Kieran Hanlon, Vinny Faherty.
Booked: Jason Hughes (89).
St. Patricks Athletic: Conor O’Malley; James Chambers, Sean Hoare, Kenny Browne, Ian Bermingham(c); Greg Bolger, Killian Brennan (Conor McCormack 86), Chirs Forrester; Aaron Greene, Conan Byrne, Ciarán Kilduff.
Subs not used: Pat Jennings (gk), Morgan Langley, Lee Desmond, Sam Verdon, Cyril Guedje, Jack Bayly.
Booked: Kenny Browne (74), Sean Hoare (85).
Referee: Séan Grant
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Killian Brennan (St. Patricks Athletic)