Dundalk FC earned a crucial victory over Limerick FC in the race for the Airtricity League Premier Division title as a second half goal from Michael Duffy secured the win for Stephen Kenny’s men. The Lilywhites certainly did not have it all their own way as the home side put in a stubborn and impressive display at the Markets Field.
The home side were missing up to four first team regulars as Shaun Kelly, Eoin Wearen and Killian Cantwell were all absent through injury and illness. As a result, Tommy Barrett set up with a 4-3-3 formation which turned into a 4-5-1 when defending. Shane Duggan, Barry Maguire and Cian Coleman sat tightly together in midfield.
In the early stages, Limerick surrendered possession in their own half and Michael Duffy capitalised by shooting on target but Tommy Holland was equal to the former Celtic man’s effort. Limerick responded well and had a glorious chance through centre-back Colman Kennedy who was gifted a free header from a corner kick but he failed to direct it on target.
Limerick wingers Will Fitzgerald and Karl O’Sullivan linked up well to set up Conor Ellis who teed up Fitzgerald to rifle a shot straight at Gary Rogers. A strong and positive run from Ellis resulted in the former Cork striker setting up O’Sullivan whose shot was saved by Rogers once more.
Dundalk were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position and Dean Jarvis’ first effort was blocked by the well constructed Limerick wall while the rebound was smartly saved by Tommy Holland.
Despite dominating possession, Dundalk failed to create a chance of note. In fact, it was the Super Blues who fashioned the next chance as Cian Coleman flicked on from a long throw by Fitzgerald and forced a save from Rogers.
The visitors almost snatched the lead as we approached half time. Dylan Connolly produced a superb cross for Pat Hoban and the striker forced a save from Holland to keep the game scoreless. It proved to be the last action of a fruitful first half for Tommy Barrett’s men.
Limerick created the first chance of the second half as a weaving run from O’Sullivan opened up the Dundalk defence before Ellis blasted a shot just over the crossbar from the edge of the box. More positive running from Barry Maguire and O’Sullivan forced a number of corners for Limerick which were eventually cleared by both Brian Gartland and Pat Hoban.
Stephen Kenny’s side took a vital lead with ten minutes remaining as Limerick failed to sufficiently clear the danger before Michael Duffy slammed the ball into the net from the edge of the box to send the away support into raptures. Moments later, Duffy tested Holland again as he cut inside Darren Murphy before curling an effort towards the top corner which Holland had to claw away.
It was clear that Limerick did not have the required energy to force an equaliser as Dundalk looked the more likely to add to their lead. The Shannonsiders squandered a number of chances to put the ball into the box but in truth both Cleary and Gartland were dealing with the danger regardless.
It was a massive victory for Dundalk as Cork City succumbed to a 1-2 home defeat to Sligo. They now sit 6 points clear at the top of the league.
Limerick FC: Tommy Holland, Killian Brouder, Colman Kennedy, Cian Coleman, Darren Murphy, Shane Duggan, Barry Maguire, Will Fitzgerald (Billy Dennehy 79) Karl O’Sullivan, Conor Ellis (Danny Morrissey 75).
Subs not used: Jack Brady, Ger Barry, Adam Foley, Aaron Fitzgerald
Dundalk: Gary Rogers, Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland, Daniel Cleary, Dean Jarvis, Chris Shields, Robbie Benson (Patrick McEleney 76), Jamie McGrath (John Moutney 67), Michael Duffy, Dylan Connolly Ronan Murray (H/T), Pat Hoban.
Subs not used: Gabriel Sava, Dane Massey, Stephen Folan, George Kelly,
Yellow Cards: Jamie McGrath (39), Dylan Connolly (20), Daniel Cleary (46)