Ian Bermingham 55' -
Ian Bermingham's second-half header was enough for St. Patrick's Athletic to take all three points at a dour Richmond Park on a rainy Friday night, triumphing 1-0 in their SSE Airtricity League clash with Limerick.
Liam Buckley's side controlled the lion's share of the possession but created precious few clear-cut chances in the first half, their best coming from a shot from range from James Doona.
But Bermingham soared to meet Conan Byrne's header to give Pat's the lead, and they were rarely troubled by a dour Limerick side and should have doubled their lead had Doona and Ryan Brennan not missed two glaring chances towards the end of the game.
Pat's began with a much-changed lineup, with Doona making his first start of the season and Jake Keegan ending his own streak of coming on in every game by making the start here. Limerick made just the one change with Darren Dennehy coming into the defence for Killian Brouder – playing alongside his brother Billy, lining out at left-back.
Jamie Lennon, also coming into the starting XI for Pat’s, shuttled around the midfield and impressed early on, picking up good positions and pushing the Saints forward, but Doona and Brennan remained largely anonymous as the home side struggled to create much despite having the majority of the ball.
Indeed, it took Pat's twelve minutes to create anything definite, as Keegan and Brennan both had efforts blocked by Shaun Kelly in the Limerick box, before Cian Coleman got a shot off on the break and Billy Dennehy warmed Saints' goalkeeper Barry Murphy's gloves with a tame free kick.
Limerick's attacking play was largely on the counter, with Shane Duggan looking the most threatening, but wingers Henry Cameron and William Fitzgerald were largely restricted by Bermingham and Simon Madden. A switch of wings didn't help much either.
Kelly was on hand to head away another Conan Byrne cross in the 27th minute after good work from Lennon at the base of the Pat's midfield, before a mix-up in the Pat's area led to a corner and a volleyed effort from Tony Whitehead.
Murphy failed to come for a ball, leaving his defence in front muddled, he repeated the trick just before half-time and, after a moment at the start of the game where his roll out to Toner was intercepted by Duggan, got a deserved rollicking from captain Bermingham.
Toner had an off-game himself, the aforementioned incident with Duggan one of a notable number of sloppy incidents in possession, and at the beginning of the second half he nearly let in Henry Cameron with a careless touch – luckily, he got back to block the shot himself.
Pat's would grow into the game as the first half wore on, Doona coming to life with two minutes to go with a stinging low drive from 25 yards out that forced Clarke into a good low save, and Brennan snatched at a header ten minutes into the second half off Bermingham's delivery that went just over.
The provider would turn scorer, though, as the Pat's captain headed his side into a 56th minute lead. After Billy Dennehy fouled a lively Madden, Conan Byrne's whipped cross found Bermingham's head in the mixer, and the left-back headed home to give the Inchicore club a deserved lead.
It was nearly 2-0 in the 64th minute when Brennan did well to trap a loose ball, turn Cantwell, and strike just over the bar with Clarke stretching.
Tommy Barrett responded immediately by promptly taking Cantwell off, introducing Barry Maguire, and pushing up Coleman to play more direct, but Toner and Desmond at the back stood up well to the Limerick pressure as the second period wore on.
Darragh Markey's introduction with twenty minutes to go injected life into the Pat's counter-attack, with the diminutive midfielder having a field day galloping around the Richmond Park turf as Limerick opened up. Brennan also seemed liberated, as did Madden, whose 73rd minute cross nearly turned assist but for a short-range miss from Keegan.
Markey would feed Keegan a minute later, who put in a low cross which was brilliantly flicked on by Brennan to Doona, open at the back post, but he somehow managed to fire over on an open goal.
One last chance fell Pat's’ way in the 89th minute and again it seemed harder to miss than score, but Brennan's shot was deflected over by Kelly from just two yards out.
It mattered little by the end, with Coleman's tame header at Murphy right at the end the final death nail for the Blues, who were well beaten on the night.
ST. PATRICK'S ATHLETIC: Barry Murphy; Simon Madden, Kevin Toner, Lee Desmond, Ian Bermingham; Ryan Brennan, James Doona, Jamie Lennon; Conan Byrne, Jake Keegan (Christy Fagan 90), Dean Clarke (Darragh Markey 69).
Subs Not Used: Tyson Farago, Mick Leahy, Michael Barker, Owen Garvan, Ian Turner.
Yellow Cards: Clarke (36), Brennan (43).
LIMERICK FC: Brendan Clarke; Shaun Kelly, Tony Whitehead, Darren Dennehy, Billy Dennehy; Henry Cameron (Jeff McGowan 89), Cian Coleman, Shane Duggan, Kilian Cantwell (Barry Maguire 65), William Fitzgerald (Colm Walsh-O'Loughlin 79); Conor Ellis.
Subs Not Used: Tommy Holland, Killian Brouder, Shane Tracy, Karl O'Sullivan.
Yellow Cards: Fitzgerald (25), Cameron (32), B. Dennehy (55).
Referee: Sean Grant.
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Jamie Lennon (St. Patrick's Athletic).