Limerick Mann up to preserve unbeaten run

Limerick F.C. 2 - 2 Drogheda United

Another glorious day of sunshine in the mid-west of Ireland, we were blessed with an evening of dry and sunny weather on the Saturday eve of the June bank holiday.

Having come directly from Athenry, where I stayed last night after watching the goalless draw at Eamon Deasy park between Galway United and Derry City, I promptly arrived in the Treaty city eagerly hoping for plenty of goals at the Markets Field.

Pat O’Sullivan was an absolute gent as usual, and Colum and Rob were also generous in allowing me to pick their brains about who they thought would produce the goods for the SuperBlues on the night, over a pre-match cup of tea.

The talk was of the ones to watch – no.16. Stephen Kenny, and no.11. Shane Tracy.

It was noted that injuries to keeper Freddie Hall and captain Shane Duggan, would mean Limerick were not at full strength, however, within the first few minutes of the game, sub keeper Tommy Holland came to rescue and quelled some early panic, with a couple of good saves.

Thereafter, chances were spurned at both ends – on 8mins a low shot by Lynch (no.7) was saved by Drogs ‘keeper McGuinness, and on 16mins away captain (no.10) Sean Thornton had a shot deflected over the bar for a corner.

In truth the first half was fairly uneventful. A good header out under pressure by Limerick defender Paudie O’Connor on 25mins followed a Sean Brennan (Drogs no.7) volley over the bar on 20mins.

Limerick were playing nice stuff, passing to feet, with good movement, but all too often it resulted in a corner at best, which then came to nothing. For their part, Drogheda created one or two decent opportunities, but didn’t threaten ‘keeper Holland in the way they did in the first few minutes.

And thus it was noted that some eye-catching action did occur when Newcastle West under 12’s took to the pitch during the half time break. Carew Park also proudly displayed their Premier Cup.

Martin Russell had clearly had a few words during the break and a much more purposeful Limerick side emerged second half.

On 49mins a good cross from Kenny on the right was cleared by Drogs before another good break resulted in a Limerick corner which was also cleared away.

On 56 mins another Limerick attack saw a shot fired over the Drogs bar on the half volley by no.6 Paul O’Conor. Then a shot was fired in after a break on the right and from the resulting corner by Kenny (no.16) the ball was bundled in amid a pile of bodies – probably an own goal.

59mins : Limerick 1-0 Drogheda.

On 63mins a good chance for the visitors was fired over on a break away after some good work down the right by Limerick no.20 Chris Mulhall.

The Limerick goal opened the game up a bit, and in contrast to the first half, where it was fairly tight, the second half became an end-to-end encounter, as both teams pressed.

On 66mins the ref blew up for a foul on Drogs ‘keeper McGuinness who was out bravely to save at the feet of Blues no.9 O’Flynn as the ball broke into the box, and this summed up the frustrations of the home crowd who seemed to think the decisions of the official were unjust.

In fairness, he did seem to give pretty much all the decisions to the away side, but it was not a dirty game.

Both teams had an honest endeavour and an attendance of 1,181 was announced, exceeding the 975 in Galway in the premier division match the previous night.

On 70mins cool defending by right back Kelly (no.2) saw him chest the ball back to his goalie after he had just been in action at the other end, having a shot saved by McGuinness.

A couple of bookings ensued but again, it was not a dirty game – no high, late tackles or drama or playacting, which we see tends to characterise the game on the continent more and more.

Then a sloppy goal on 75mins as Drogheda equalise through Sam O’Connor, who is credited with the goal although ‘keeper Holland appeared to drop the ball.

This galvanised Limerick even further, who went on the attack yet again, and on 77mins a cross from the left was headed wide before a cross from the right resulted in a save.

Further end-to-end chances were created. On 80mins a cross from the left resulted in a corner for the Blues, which was headed towards goal but wide. Then on 82mins the ball dropped in the box for Thornton (no.10) as Drogheda attacked but he fired his volley over.

On 83mins Limerick broke into the box and ‘keeper came out but missed ball completely – however Mulhall (no.20) could only watch as his shot-come-cross was cleared away for yet another corner as the Markets Field crowd roared for a Blues winner.

Then a disaster for the home team on 88mins as a break down the left saw a cross to the back post not cleared. Falling to the feet of no.16 Aaron Ashe, he slipped a low shot past Holland and in off the far post in front of the travelling supporters to make it 2-1 to Drogheda.

Ross Mann (no.19) was one of a couple of subs brought on by manager Russell as Limerick pressed yet again, and as we progressed into injury time, Limerick won another corner. As it was cleared out, the chance presented itself to put in another cross, and as it was, Mann flicked it on into the goal to the rapturous delight of the home support. 93mins : 2-2.

Not content with a point, Limerick pressed again, and sensed an even later winner might be on the cards. More pressure resulted in another corner, this time no.11 Tracy putting it in dangerously, but Drogheda held on for the draw to upset Limerick’s winning run, but no doubt the home side will reflect that, in the circumstances, it was a point earned.

Feel free to check out my humble commentary and amateur video of the last five minutes of the action, from the game :

Thanks again to the staff at the club for their courtesy and support!

Limerick: Tommy Holland, Shaun Kelly (Ross Mann 89), Paudie O’Connor, Robbie Williams ©, Shane Tracy, Paul O’Conor, Lee-J Lynch, Stephen Kenny, Chris Mulhall, Seán Russell, John O’Flynn. Goals: Own-Goal (60), R Mann (90+2). Booked: P O’Connor (67), L Lynch (74). Unused Subs: Freddy Hall (GK), Tony Whitehead, Shane Costelloe, Seán McSweeney, Clyde O’Connell, Killian Brouder.

Drogheda United: Stephen McGuinness, Lloyd Buckley, Niall Cooney, Luke Gallagher, Stephen Dunne, Aaron Ashe, Seán Brennan (Ken Costello 62), Seán Thornton ©, Derek Doyle, Mark Griffin (Eoin Kirwan 79), Sam O’Connor (Liam Donnelly 88). Goals: S O’Connor (75), A Ashe (89). Booked: S Thornton (72). Unused Subs: Patrick Dunican (GK), Jamie McGlynn, Joe Jackson.

Referee: Adriano Reale (Dublin). Attendance: 1,181 (Official).

Report by Carl J Ashley: Sunday 5 June 2016

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