Limerick FC suffered their second defeat in five days despite an encouraging display against Cork City as forward pair Graham Cummins and Josh O’Hanlon scored to cancel out a Danny Morrissey opener for the Super Blues in the first half.
Surprisingly, Limerick started with a midfield three of Eoin Wearen, Cian Coleman and Conor Clifford while captain Shane Duggan covered the right hand side of the field when Limerick were not in possession. However, the captain tucked in to the middle of the park when the Super Blues had the ball.
Cork City were awarded a penalty following their first meaningful foray into Limerick territory as Killian Cantwell was adjudged to have pulled back Steven Beattie. However, Brendan Clarke spared his right-back’s blushes as he saved Karl Shephard’s penalty.
The Cork full-backs were advancing at will in the early stages and right-back Colm Horgan supplied a cross for Graham Cummins who directed his header wide of the post.
Limerick central midfielder Conor Clifford had the first chance for the Shannonsiders with a strike from distance which was easily held by Mark McNulty.
The home side were dominating possession and midfielder Garry Buckley rifled a shot straight at Clarke which the Dubliner managed to deflect away from goal.
The Shannonsiders took a shock lead as Cork failed to clear a Billy Dennehy free-kick and Danny Morrissey scooped the ball over McNulty to score a great goal against his former club. Unfortunately, the lead did not last long as Colm Horgan’s cross found the head of Graham Cummins who applied the finish from close range.
Another dangerous delivery from Dennehy found Cian Coleman at the back post but the former Cork man was overstretching and couldn’t apply the finish. Immediately, Karl Shephard received possession on the edge of the box but his effort was aimed straight at Clarke. It proved to be the last chance of an entertaining first half.
Limerick were forced to make a substitution at half time as Darren Dennehy was replaced by Barry Maguire. As a result, Eoin Wearen switched to centre-back while Maguire took his place in midfield.
There was a slow start to proceedings in the second half but the reigning champions created the first chance as Barry McNamee got to the byline before picking out Garry Buckley at the back post but Billy Dennehy threw his body on the line to block the shot.
Limerick substitute Mark O’Sullivan spurned a glorious opportunity upon his introduction as he placed the ball wide of the post when one on one with Clarke. He was made to rue the missed chance as the home side took the lead when Kieran Sadlier provided a superb cross for Josh O’Hanlon to attack and the former St. Pats striker duly obliged with a low header into the back of the net.
O’Hanlon had another chance as he headed wide from a Karl Shephard corner. Limerick enjoyed a lot of possession in the Cork half without creating a clear cut chance after O’Sullivan’s miss. Kieran Sadlier almost caught Brendan Clarke out with an unintentional lob.
The hard working O’Sullivan linked up with the equally energetic Cian Coleman before the former almost scored after blocking an attempted clearance from Conor McCormack.
Cork substitute Sadlier should have wrapped the game up for the home side on two occasions but he blasted successive shots at Clarke and wide of the goal.
The Rebels managed to see out the victory despite an avalanche of long balls from Limerick in the direction of targetman Mark O’Sullivan. Cork are now three points clear at the top of the table while Limerick remain in the relegation/promotion playoff place.
Cork City: Mark McNulty, Colm Horgan, Alan Bennett, Sean McLoughlin, Jimmy Keohane, Conor McCormack, Garry Buckley, Barry McNamee (Josh O’Hanlon 69), Steven Beattie (Kieran Sadlier 51), Karl Shephard, Graham Cummins (Danny Kane 82).
Subs not used: Peter Cherrie, Aaron Barry, Conor McCarthy, Michael Howard.
Yellow Cards: Colm Horgan (31), Karl Shephard (74)
Limerick FC: Brendan Clarke, Killian Cantwell, Tony Whitehead, Darren Dennehy (Barry Maguire H/T), Billy Dennehy, Eoin Wearen, Cian Coleman, Conor Clifford, Will Fitzgerald (Karl O’Sullivan 34), Shane Duggan, Danny Morrissey (Mark O’Sullivan .
Subs not used: Tommy Holland, Shane Tracy, Colm Walsh- O’Loughlen
Yellow Cards: Shane Duggan (2), Killian Cantwell (8)
Referee: Tomas Connolly