Limerick suffered their first defeat of 2018 as they succumbed to an 8-0 thumping at the hands of Dundalk at Oriel Park. Two goals apiece from Patrick Hoban and Michael Duffy along with further goals from Robbie Benson, Stephen Folan, Karolis Chevdukas and Dylan Connolly compounded a miserable night for an understrength Limerick side.
Tommy Barrett made four changes heading into the game. Daniel Kearns and Cian Coleman were late withdrawals due to illness. Mark O’Sullivan and Tony Whitehead dropped to the bench. Killian Cantwell, Conor Ellis, Will Fitzgerald and Colm Walsh O’Loughlin all started their first games of the season.
Dundalk began the game at a ferocious pace and took the lead inside the first seven minutes as Robbie Benson fed Ronan Murray who in turn crossed the ball for Pat Hoban to score his first goal of the season. Just three minutes later, neat interplay between Robbie Benson and Ronan Murray resulted in the former curling the ball past Brendan Clarke. With a quarter of the first half gone, the home side added a third goal as Hoban gained possession on the right hand side before beating Shane Tracy and shooting into the bottom corner of the net.
On the stroke of half-time, former Limerick centre-back Stephen Folan scored his first Dundalk goal since joining from Galway United in the winter when he met Michael Duffy’s corner to head past Clarke.
The second period began in the same fashion as a combination of Brendan Clarke and the post denied Hoban from scoring on two separate occasions. It wasn’t long before the fifth goal arrived as Karolis Chevdukas scored on his league debut for the Lilywhites as he placed his shot into an empty net after Ronan Murray had earlier hit the post.
The lively Michael Duffy joined the long list of scorers as he managed to evade the challenges of three defenders before blasting past the helpless Clarke. Limerick introduced Mark O’Sullivan who received some abuse from the home supporters due to his Cork City connections. O’Sullivan was denied a headed goal by Gary Rogers who made a great save low to his right.
Dylan Connolly inflicted more misery on the Shannonsiders when he robbed Tony Whitehead of possession before rounding Brendan Clarke and stroking the ball into the empty net. Connolly was central to Dundalk’s eight and final goal as he provided a back post pull back for Michael Duffy to end the night as it had begun, with a well worked Dundalk goal.
It is a shattering confidence blow to the Limerick FC management and players. Limerick never expected to emerge from Oriel Park with all three points. A backlash was coming as Dundalk had failed to win or score in their previous two games and with the quality of the attacking players on offer tonight, it was never going to be long until Stephen Kenny’s men punished the opposition.
Also, Daniel Kearns, Mark O’Sullivan and Cian Coleman have been Limerick’s star performers so far this season and only one of those was available tonight from the bench. It is a steep learning curve for young players like Will Fitzgerald and Colm Walsh-O’Loughlin who were thrown in at the deep end tonight.
Limerick must react quickly as they welcome Shamrock Rovers to the Markets Field on Saturday. Rovers had a massive win of their own against Bray on Monday night and will be high on confidence. It is vital that Limericks show the heart which was evident against Sligo and Bohemians in order to bounce back from tonight’s horror show.
Dundalk: Gary Rogers, Sean Gannon, Stephen Folan, Daniel Cleary, Dane Massey, Chris Shields (Karolis Chevdukas 60), Robbie Benson (Krisztian Adorjan 75), Ronan Murray, Dylan Connolly, Michael Duffy, Pat Hoban (Marco Tagbajumi 67).
Subs not used: Gabriel Sava, Dean Jarvis, Jamie McGrath, Sean Hoare.
Yellow Cards: Daniel Cleary (33)
Red Cards: None
Limerick FC: Brendan Clarke, Shaun Kelly, Killian Cantwell, Darren Dennehy, Shane Tracy, Eoin Wearen (Tony Whitehead 60), Shane Duggan, Billy Dennehy, Will Fitzgerald, Colm Walsh-O’Loughlin, Conor Ellis (Mark O’Sullivan 60)
Subs not used: Tommy Holland, Alan Murphy, Killian Brouder, Josh McGowan
Yellow Cards: Shaun Kelly (83), Mark O’Sullivan (88)
Red Cards: None
Referee: Paul Tuite