Limerick FC guarantee premier division football for 2018 following nervy draw with Galway United.

Limerick FC secured their place in the ten team SSE Airtricity League Premier Division for 2018 following a 2-2 draw with Galway United at the Markets Field. Goals from Rodrigo Tosi from the penalty spot and Chiedozie Ogbene had given Limerick a two goal lead before Ronan Murray and Eoin McCormack levelled for the visitors. The result means Galway go into the final game of the season in the relegation zone and they could be relegated tomorrow night if Sligo overcome Derry City.

Both teams began the game at a slow pace with Shane Duggan’s wayward cross almost catching out Conor Winn in the Galway goal. The visitors responded with a shot from Rory Hale from the edge of the box which was easily collected by Brendan Clarke.

Approaching the half hour mark, Clarke denied Gavan Holohan with a superb low save to his right. The Tribesemen were dominant at this point as the home team struggled to relieve the pressure. Shane Keegan’s men then had a goal ruled out for offside as the pressure intensified. Ronan Murray should have given his side the lead with a low shot which flew just wide of Clarke’s left hand post.

Suddenly against the run of play, Limerick were awarded a guilt edge chance to take the lead. Stephen Kenny was set free down the right flank before delivering a teasing cross to the back post where Chiedozie Ogbene was pulled back by Colm Horgan and a penalty was duly awarded. Rodrigo Tosi calmly converted the spot kick to give the home side an undeserved lead.

Shortly after, Galway should have been level as a poor clearance from Shane Tracy fell to Kevin Devaney at the back post but Clarke somehow managed to guide the wing-back’s shot over the bar, much to the relief of the home support.

Approaching half-time, Shane Keegan’s side were dealt a killer blow as Limerick doubled their lead. Again, Stephen Kenny was allowed to cross from the right and Chiedozie Ogbene managed to beat Colm Horgan to the ball at the back post to prod home. Two very similar goals cost the Tribesmen dearly.

The second half had barely begun when the visitors were handed a lifeline as Bastien Hery’s poor back header was pounced upon by Ronan Murray before he slotted the ball under the body of substitute goalkeeper Freddy Hall.

As Limerick struggled to vacate their defensive third, they relied heavily on hopeful balls with the wind at their back. As a result Galway could push up and use Conor Winn as a sweeper. In a rare escape, Tosi did have a snapshot which was dealt with by Winn.

With 20 minutes remaining Galway were awarded a penalty as Eoin McCormack was adjudged to have been fouled in the box. Freddy Hall produced a superb save to deny Ronan Murray from the spot to send the Markets Field faithful into raptures. However, joy soon turned to despair and Hall went from hero to zero as he charged from his goal to take down Ronan Murray. Referee Anthony Buttimer wasted little time in pointing to the spot for the third time and second for Galway. Eoin McCormack took the responsibility from Ronan Murray and dispatched the penalty beyond Hall’s reach.

It was certainly a nervy ending for the home side who retreated in order to protect a point which was enough to guarantee premier division safety. Limerick did have a late scare as Barry Cotter appeared to hold the jersey of Marc Ludden in the box. Luckily for Limerick, Anthony Buttimer did not award Galway a third penalty of the game and the Shannonsiders held out to gain a precious point.

Limerick play Shamrock Rovers in their final game of the season in Tallaght Stadium next Friday night (kick-off 8pm).

Limerick FC: Brendan Clarke (Freddy Hall 40), Dean Clarke, Tony Whitehead, Dave O’Connor, Shane Tracy, Bastien Hery, Shane Duggan (Joe Crowe H/T), Lee-J Lynch, Stephen Kenny (Barry Cotter 75), Chiedozie Ogbene, Rodrigo Tosi.

Subs not used: Killian Brouder, Henry Cameron, Peter Berki, John O’Flynn.
Yellow Cards: Freddy Hall (82)
Red Cards: None

Galway United: Conor Winn, Colm Horgan, Stephen Folan, Niall Maher (Paraic Cunningham 90), Marc Ludden, Kevin Devaney, David Cawley (Gary Shanahan 90), Gavan Holohan, Rory Hale, Ronan Murray, Eoin McCormack (Conor Melody 90+2).

Subs not used: Charlie Burns, Paul Sinnott, Conor Barry, Alex Byrne.
Yellow Cards: None
Red Cards: None

Referee: Anthony Buttimer
Attendance: 1609
Sporting Limerick Man of the Match: Lee-J Lynch