Tom Clancy reports from the Markets Field
Limerick put a massive dent in Longford Town's First Division title hopes with a deserved 3-1 victory over the Midland outfit. A sluggish display from the visitors meant Limerick kept their top four hopes intact.
Goals from Tomás O’Connor, Kieran Hanlon and Lee Devitt were enough to see Limerick return to winning ways, after Aaron Dobbs had briefly levelled the game.
Tomás O’Connor netted his first League of Ireland goal with a bullet header in just the third minute, after being picked out by veteran Shane Tracy. His header crossed the line after the striking the post.
Longford, to their credit, responded well to the early set back, and levelled via the head of Aaron Dobbs. Fifteen minutes had elapsed when a pin-point cross from Anto Breslin was met by Dobbs in full-flight, with Jack Brady unable to keep the ball out, despite a strong hand.
Hanlon put Limerick ahead again when another cross was steered home, this time Shaun Kelly whipped the ball in from the right-flank, and Hanlon steered the ball beyond Lee Steacy. The striker didn’t celebrate his goal, despite the quality of the finish.
Hanlon was smart throughout, and despite cutting an isolated figure at times, he held the ball up and caused the Longford defence trouble.
The remainder of the opening half was largely scrappy, with Dean Zambra earning a yellow for a forceful foul Clyde O’Connell. Zambra’s partner, Stephanie Roche was one of the 380 in attendance at a muted Markets Field.
Limerick led at the interval and perhaps deservedly so, with Neale Fenn’s side struggling to retain possession in the final third.
Winger Karl O’Sullivan missed a great opening minutes into the second half, pouncing on a Breslin mistake, but his lob was just too strong, sailing inches over the bar. Seconds later, the lead was doubled. Another young winger, Lee Devitt, latched onto a through ball, and scuffed his effort past Steacy. Devitt showed great strength to hold off Shane Elworthy.
Longford created a couple of chances in the final quarter, with a missed header from Verdon and a fine save from Brady denying them a route back into the game.
The result is make all the more bizarre as Limerick have lost Killian Brouder, Colm Walsh O’Loghlen, Will Fitzgerald and Connor Ellis in recent weeks. Longford will be totally frustrated with their level of performance as they fall to third place, behind Drogheda, who they face next.
Limerick: Jack Brady; Shaun Kelly © (Edmond O’Dwyer 88), Tomas O’Connor, Robbie Williams, Shane Tracy; Karl O’Sullivan, Clyde O’Connell (Ger Barry 69), Jason Hughes, Darren Murphy, Lee Devitt; Kieran Hanlon (Adam Foley 88)
Subs not used: Tommy Holland (gk), Andy Quaid
Booked: Darren Murphy (57)
Longford Town: Lee Steacy; Shane Elworthy, Mick O’Donnell, Connor Kenna, Anto Breslin; Sam Verdon, Dean Zambra ©, Jack Doherty (Dylan Grimes 73), Dean Byrne (Adam Evans 55), Aodh Dervin; Aaron Dobbs (Peter Hopkins 80)
Subs not used: Jack Menton (gk), Carlton Ubaezuonu, Karl Chambers, Karl Fitzsimons, Dylan Grimes
Booked: Dean Zambra (38)
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Kieran Hanlon (Limerick)
Its all over here and Limerick have won 3-1. Well deserved win and a huge performance from the lads who really gave it everything tonight. A happy crowd of 380 made their voices heard in apprecaiation for the great effort from the Blues. pic.twitter.com/YTHDLfCtXn— Limerick FC (@LimerickFCie) July 5, 2019