A second half Anthony Flood hat-trick stunned Limerick 37 as Shelbourne were 3-0 winners at Jackman Park tonight. As predicted, the First Division’s top goal scorer Anto Flood was a handful for Limerick as Shelbourne kept their title hopes alive. It was important for Dermot Keely’s side to get a result in Limerick as League leaders Dundalk convincingly beat Kildare County on Thursday in Oriel Park.
Shelbourne got off to a positive start as they applied the pressure on the Limerick defence from the kick-off. It looked as if this attacking play would pay off after just four minutes when Shelbourne were awarded a penalty by referee Robert Rogers. Peter White was harshly penalised for handling Floods cross inside the penalty area. Just when it looked like David Freemen would put Shelbourne ahead, Limerick keeper Dave Ryan judged the penalty correctly as he dived to his left to catch Freeman’s penalty.
Minutes later, Anthony Flood’s low shot was saved by Limerick keeper Dave Ryan, after he beat Tommy Barrett and Paul Danaher to get his shot away. Ryan got down bravely, clutching the ball in the middle of a cluster of red shirts.
The penalty and Flood chance seemed to put some life into the hosts as Mike Kerley’s side began to play some attractive attacking football, which has been a trademark of Limerick’s home games so far this season. Limerick will feel extremely unlucky not to have gone ahead in the 10th minute, when Willie Bruton’s through ball met the feet of James Hayes. He let the ball run but his miss-hit shot went well wide of Dean Delaney’s far post.
The next goal scoring opportunity fell to Shelbourne’s Dave Freeman. He latched onto the end of a Greg O’Halloran cross only to see his effort go out for a Limerick goal kick. Next, it was Freeman’s chance to supply the cross but David McGill saw his powerful shot fly over the bar. It seemed only a matter of time before the visitors got a well deserved opener.
The Limerick defence looked shaky, and Dermot Keely saw this opportunity and decided to push his team higher up the pitch. Shelbourne’s high line of defence proved to be a weak point as Limerick hit them on the break on several occasions prior to half-time. Limerick midfielder Brendan Daly's cross was intercepted by Shelbourne’s Robbie Hedderman. Both Derek McCarthy and Willie Bruton were waiting unmarked inside the six yard box.
Mike Kerley decided to introduce exciting midfielder Wayne Colbert at half-time. He replaced winger Chukwuma Manjor after a poor first half. At the start of the second half, Shelbourne were awarded a free-kick just outside the Limerick penalty area. From a tight angle, James Keddy curled the free-kick just wide of the Limerick near post. Limerick’s Willie Bruton was judged to be offside from the kick out as the Shelbourne defence began to push even further up the pitch, in search of that all important opener.
The visitors continued to apply the pressure and they were rewarded for their persistence after 54 minutes of play when striker Anto Flood finished from close range after Dave Ryan was unable to keep hold of a superb volley from James Chamber from outside the Limerick box.
Mike Kerley did not let his young side drop their heads and, as the home crowd got behind their team, Limerick began to push forward in search of an equaliser. They nearly got one in the 63rd minute when substitute Wayne Colbert low shot was pushed wide by Delaney. Bruton latched onto the rebound, only to see his left footed shot hit the side netting.
Wayne Colbert then showed his versatility when he got back to defend a Mark O’Brien shot just when it seemed Shelbourne would double their lead. They finally did, however, double their lead after 75 minutes of play when Anto Flood headed home into an empty goal after Limerick goal keeper Dave Ryan failed to catch Hedderman’s dangerous cross.
Anto Flood got to take home the match ball when he completed his hat-trick in the 89th minute. Yet again, Flood slotted the ball into the empty net as he blocked down Dave Ryan’s poor clearance. This took his goal tally to 10 goals so far this season and he will play a huge factor in Shelbourne’s race for promotion this season.
Limerick 37: Dave Ryan; Peter White, Paul Danaher, Tommy Barrett, Brian Cleary; Brendan Daly, Padraig Fogarty (David Ryan 79), James Hayes (Ross Cosgrave 69), Derek McCarthy; Willie Bruton, Chimba Manjor (Wayne Colbert 46).
Subs not used: .
Shelbourne: Dean Delany; James Chambers, Alan Keely, Damien Brennan, Robbie Hedderman; Mark O'Brien, David McGill, Greg O'Halloran (Alan Murphy 71), James Keddy; Anto Flood, David Freeman.
Subs not used: Fred Davis Jnr, Alan Byrne, Peter McGlynn, Mark Rutherford.
Referee: Rob Rogers.
Extratime Man of the Match: Anto Flood- Grabbed himself a hat-trick and could have got more after an excellent second half second performance.
is a freelance sports reporter based in Limerick who has been following the League of Ireland for as long as he can remember. As an avid Limerick supporter his earliest memory of the League was watching Limerick beat Derry in the League Cup semi-final at Jackman Park in 2002. After see John Whyte score that penalty near the end and seeing the famous Derry fans in full voice, he was hooked for life.
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