Newly crowned First Division Champions Limerick celebrated their success with a win over a weakened Longford Town on Saturday night.
With the play-offs firmly in Longford’s sight manager Tony Cousins decided to rest a few players for this game while he also had a number of players missing through suspension and injury. They also ended the game with ten men after Jamie Duffy was sent off for a second yellow card.
Limerick dominated the game from start to finish but it wasn’t until the 79th minute that they finally broke the deadlock; Shane Tracy with the penalty after Robert Bayly had taken down Garbhan Coughlan. Sub Sean Brosnan added a second in injury-time.
Playing with a real confidence Limerick took the game to Longford right from the start and inside the opening ten minutes had created four chances to open the scoring. The first came in the 5th minute; Corie Treacy’s ball into the box met the head of Denis Behan but his diving effort went just wide.
One minute later Cian Collins had a chance but his low drive failed to find the target. Behan was unlucky in the 7th minute; Joe Gamble with the cross but Behan directed his effort wide. Another Limerick chance went abegging in the8th minute; Derek O’Brien’s low drive seemed to have been deflected out for a corner by Longford keeper Paul Hunt but a goal-kick was given.
Gamble was the provider again in the 16th minute but this time it was O’Brien who just couldn’t finish it. After being completely outplayed Longford began to get possession but their end product was poor.
In the space of one minute Gamble had two chances. On the half hour mark his shot was well-blocked down by Daragh Reynor and then seconds later his header just went wide.
Limerick defender Pat Purcell was lucky to stay on the pitch in the 32nd minute after hauling down Alan Kirby who was through on goal. Purcell just received a yellow. From the free-kick the ball eventually fell to Mark Salmon but his fantastic shot from about 25 yards was well saved by Barry Ryan.
Longford had another great chance to take the lead four minutes from the break; Kirby’s corner from the left met the head of Craig Walsh but his effort was cleared off the line by Dave O’Leary.
Limerick started the second half like they had the first. In the 51st minute Behan forced Longford netminder Paul Hunt into making an excellent save to keep his goal intact. From the corner Purcell’s header just went wide of the target.
Four minutes later Town were reduced to ten men when Duffy was shown a second yellow for a foul on O’Leary. Shortly after Behan’s snapshot flew into Hunt’s hands. The hard-working Behan was unlucky in the 69th minute but his shot from distance just didn’t go in.
Limerick’s pressure was to pay off in the 79th minute when Bayly took down Coughlan. Tracy stepped up to take the penalty and made no mistake.
They went in search of a second and one minute into additional time Brosnan finished Shaun Kelly’s cross to the net. Cue wild celebrations from the large travelling support.
Longford Town: Paul Hunt; Noel Haverty (Robert Bayly 62), Chris Deans, Gary Cronin, Daragh Reynor; Mark Salmon, Keith Gillespie (Alex Kenny 76), Alan Kirby, Thomas Crawley (Tony Griffiths 64); Jamie Duffy, Craig Walsh.
Subs not used: Craig Hyland, Aaron Brilly, Brian McNamara, Dean Cosgrove.
Booked: Duffy (37), Deans (74).
Sent off: Duffy (55).
Limerick FC: Barry Ryan; Shaun Kelly, Corie Treacy, Pat Purcell, Joe Gamble (Steve McGann 61); Stephen Brady, Shane Tracy, Dave O’Leary, Derek O’Brien (Garbhan Coughlan 46); Cian Collins (Sean Brosnan 66), Denis Behan.
Subs not used: Dave Ryan, Shane Guthrie, Robert Kluciar, Dominic Foley.
Booked: Purcell (32).
Referee: Sean Grant (Wexford).
Attendance: 450 (estimate)
Extratime.ie man of the match: Shaun Kelly (Limerick FC).