Gerard Grimes reports from United Park
Drogheda United beat Limerick 3-2 at United Park on Friday evening thanks to a Sean Brennan hat-trick and, in the process, jumped the Super Blues into fourth.
The playmaker scored once with his head and twice from the spot to edge out a Limerick side who responded twice with a Darren Murphy penalty and an Adam Foley strike.
It was the home side who had the first chance after four minutes after good footwork from Brennan in the box saw him play in Lyons.
Lyons got the ball out of his feet and shot low but the outrushing Jack Brady was there to make the save.
Limerick then began to test Gratzer as Karl O’Sullivan’s 25-yard strike forced the Drogheda keeper into a save before Kieran Hanlon then had an effort saved a minute later.
Drogheda pressed Limerick deep inside their own half at times in the first half and a chance came through Hughes winning the ball back on fifteen minutes.
He played the ball out right to Meaney who surged forward through the Limerick defence but saw a weak effort saved by Brady.
Drogheda hit the front five minutes later though. A long ball was played up the field and misjudged by the Limerick defence.
Killian Brouder seemed to get a touch to it but under the pressure of Lyons didn’t connect properly and the ball bounced into the box.
Sean Brennan was there and, with his back to goal, the midfielder headed over Brady to give his side the lead.
Drogheda had a chance to double their lead on 37 minutes as Doyle, Hyland and Lyons linked up. Doyle broke into the box and saw a shot saved well by Brady.
The ball rolled out to the feet of Lyons, who skipped by a defender and fired wide of the target from 12 yards.
Limerick started the second half strong with Ellis breaking into the box on the left immediately but he saw his shot saved by Gratzer.
The home side should have been two up on 51 minutes. Conor Kane, forward from left-back, held the ball up until the supporting run of Doyle took away a defender.
He then cut back inside and clipped a ball to the unmarked Brennan at the back post. Five yards out, with a goal looking certain, the midfielder missed the target.
Drogheda had penalty appeals for a foul on Lyons waved away before, just after the hour mark, Limerick were awarded a penalty after Luke Gallagher fouled full-back Shane Tracy in the box.
Darren Murphy stepped up for the visitors and sent Luca Gratzer the wrong way to level the game.
Drogheda were awarded a penalty of their own four minutes later after a high foot from Killian Brouder, as he attempted to clear the ball, caught Stephen Meaney in the head.
Brennan stepped up and, like Murphy for Limerick, he sent the keeper the wrong way.
Drogheda were awarded their second penalty just five minutes later after Brouder was again adjudged to have fouled a Drogheda player in the box, this time Lyons as he looked to cut in from the left.
Brennan again stepped up and completed his hat-trick, placing the ball in the opposite corner to his first penalty.
Limerick did get one back with seven minutes to play through substitute Adam Foley, as he finished from close range following a Tracy corner to score his first senior goal for Limerick.
The visitors pressed for an equaliser but it was Drogheda who could have scored the sixth goal of this game on the counter attack.
Cian Kavanagh broke through the middle, played in Lyons and one-on-one with the keeper, the Drogheda forward fired well over the bar.
Drogheda United: Luca Gratzer; James Brown, Luke Gallagher, Luke McNally, Conor Kane; Mark Hughes, Jake Hyland (C), Sean Brennan (Cian Kavanagh 80); Stephen Meaney (Luke Heeney 75), Chris Lyons, Mark Doyle.
Subs not used: Dan Grace (gk), Kevin Farragher, Eoin McPhillips, Jordan Adeyemo, James Clarke.
Booked: Sean Brennan (75).
Limerick: Jack Brady; Shaun Kelly, Killian Brouder, Thomas O’Connor, Lee Devitt; Darren Murphy, Shane Tracy; Karl O’Sullivan (Edmund O’Dwyer 80), Kieran Hanlon, Ger Barry (Adam Foley 75); Conor Ellis.
Subs not used: Tommy Holland (gk), Colm Walsh O’Loghlen.
Booked: Karl O’Sullivan (39), Kieran Hanlon (59), Shane Tracy (70), Shaun Kelly (72) Killian Brouder (76).
Referee: Adriano Reale.
Attendance: 450 (estimate).
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Sean Brennan (Drogheda United).