Shamrock Rovers earned their first away win of the season with Graham Burke’s 75th minute penalty against Limerick in the Markets Field giving Stephen Bradley’s men their fourth win in five.
They played out the final few minutes with ten men after Sean Kavanagh was sent off but the saw out the win - a victory that moves the Hoops into second in the early season table ahead of their trip to Waterford next Friday night.
The match on Bank Holiday Monday at the Markets Field beat the March Madness weather which put pay to the games in Bray and Inchicore. Snow had originally caused the cancellation of this tie in Limerick at the start of the month and more snow on Sunday had put the re-arranged fixture in jeopardy.
However the venue passed a pitch inspection early on Monday morning even if the surface caused some difficulty during the game. Both teams did look to play on the pitch but the occasional random bounce didn’t help either side.
Gary Shaw had Graham Burke playing in behind him and the pair linked up well in the opening ten minutes. Shaw supplied Burke with the first headed chance of the game and when Burke returned the favour, Brendan Clarke needed to be sharp to take the ball in from Shaw's header.
Hoops captain Ronan Finn let fly from 30 yards with his effort causing groans from the home crowd but the ball just beat the angle of the crossbar and post.
Trevor Clarke looked to get forward for Rovers from left back as per usual, linking up well with Kavanagh. Twice Shaun Kelly hauled Clarke down to provide set piece crossing chances for Kavanagh which Rovers couldn’t exploit.
At the other end Will Fitzgerald was able to poke the ball by the onrushing Tomer Chencinski but when forced wide Roberto Lopes got his head on the ball from close quarters to put the ball behind for a tenth minute Limerick corner.
Fitzgerald’s long throws were rained down on the Rovers box on several occasions during the opening half but Lopes and the assured Lee Grace were able to deal with all that came their way.
When Rovers had free kick chances in more central positions, twice Burke whipped the ball over the Limerick wall but also just over the Blues crossbar. Kavanagh in first half injury time beat the wall and got the ball on target but Clarke took the bouncing ball at his toes with customary ease.
Rovers began the second half brightly causing Limerick all sorts of difficulty down the left but the Blues came back into it forcing a corner that eventually came to Killian Cantwell whose effort couldn’t trouble Chencinski.
Burke’s and Finn’s passing gave Shaw a sight of goal in the six yard box but the striker couldn’t get a strong shot away and Brendan Clarke was able to fall on the ball to relieve the pressure.
Dan Carr came on just after the hour mark for Rovers and his first touch was a header that spun just wide of the goal from a Kavanagh cross. Brendan Clarke raced from his goal to stop another Rovers chance as he intercepted a ball to Carr over the top with his chest and then cleared.
When Ethan Boyle took down Conor Ellis mid-way through the second half, Dennehy was able to put the ball in the Rovers box. Instead of a whipped high ball, his low centre alluded all the onrushing players when any sort of touch would have taken the ball into the Rovers net.
Coleman nutmegged Grace to arrow in on goal but again this was another shot that drifted wide of the target as the home support in crowd sensed a goal coming their way.
However it was a reckless tackle by Kelly that handed the Hoops the lead when it looked like Limerick were weathering all that Rovers could bring at them.
Finn was running to the end line when Kelly slid in to take the feet from under the Rovers captain. Burke took the penalty with his left foot slotting the ball to the left as Brendan Clarke dived the other way.
The Hoops needed to defend deep to take the win though. They were put under pressure after a kick out by Kavanagh on Dennehy seven minutes from time saw referee Graham Kelly produce a red card.
However Rovers were able to see out the remaining time to take all three points, with Carr almost adding a second in injury time after Brendan Clarke nearly got caught having gone up for a late corner.
Limerick: Brendan Clarke; Shaun Kelly (Jeff McGowan 79), Killian Brouder, Tony Whitehead (Adam Foley 89), Billy Dennehy; Kilian Cantwell, Cian Coleman;Will Fitzgerald, Shane Duggan ©, Henry Cameron (Karl O’Sullivan 62); Connor Ellis.
Subs not used: Tommy Holland, Alan Murphy, Ger Barry.
Booked: Killian Cantwell (40), Billy Dennehy (60).
Shamrock Rovers: Tomer Chencinski; Ethan Boyle, Lee Grace, Roberto Lopes, Trevor Clarke; Sam Bone, Ronan Finn ©; Joel Coustrain (Brandon Miele 72), Graham Burke (Luke Byrne 86); Sean Kavanagh; Gary Shaw (Dan Carr 64).
Subs not used: Kevin Horgan, Dave McAllister, Joey O’ Brien, Greg Bolger.
Referee: Graham Kelly
Attendance: 1,348 (official)
Extratime.ie Man of the match: Trevor Clarke (Shamrock Rovers)