Limerick FC earned a hard fought victory at the Carlisle Grounds on Friday night against Bray Wanderers as a second-half strike from captain Shane Duggan was enough to move Tommy Barrett’s side nine points clear of their opponents.
It was a scrappy opening to the game as both teams looked to set out their stall in the clash of the bottom two in the Airtricity League Premier Division. Danny Morrissey had the first chance for Limerick as his shot from distance travelled over the crossbar.
Bray were clearly targeting Limerick’s left side as Dan McKenna and Daniel Kelly attempted to combine on several occasions. Also, Bray striker Ronan Coughlan was making runs into the left hand channel.
It was no surprise to see Bray attempt to play from the back on occasion with the presence of former Limerick manager Martin Russell on the bench. The Dubliner was vocal all evening and instructing the troops. It is inevitable that Russell will be announced as manager at the beginning of next month.
On the half hour mark, Limerick produced the best chance of the half as Killian Cantwell directed a Billy Dennehy free-kick goalwards but just missed the target. Bray responded with a chance from a corner of their own as Gary McCabe’s delivery found Daniel Kelly at the back post. The winger should have converted the chance but headed wide, much to the relief of the large travelling contingent.
Approaching the half-time whistle, Bray were awarded a penalty as Billy Dennehy was adjudged to have taken Cory Galvin down in the box. Gary McCabe stepped up and blasted the penalty over the bar. It is the second penalty McCabe missed against Limerick at the Carlisle Grounds in under a year.
The Seagulls left-back Kevin Lynch curled a free-kick off the crossbar as Limerick were beginning to commit needless fouls as the half drew to a close.
The Shannonsiders could have snatched the lead before the whistle as a superb left-footed cross from Shaun Kelly was met by Danny Morrissey who failed to place his shot on target with his outstretched right foot.
Five minutes into the second period, Limerick FC took the lead through captain Shane Duggan who swivelled past two defenders before placing a low shot into the bottom corner past Aaron Dillon.
Bray responded with two chances with a speculative shot from Gary McCabe and a Rhys Gorman header as they looked to find a way back into the game. Moments later, Killian Brouder was thankful for the quick reactions of goalkeeper Brendan Clarke as he clawed the centre-back’s block off the goal line from a Kevin Lynch cross.
The home side had their best chance of the second half when Dan McKenna sent a dangerous cross into the box which hit Limerick native Ronan Coughlan and went wide.
Limerick captain Shane Duggan fashioned the visitors next opportunity as he made space for a shot which had Aaron Dillon scrambling. With ten minutes remaining, Danny Morrissey should have sealed the points but his strong header from a Dennehy free-kick went wide.
The Seagulls should have saved a point in the final minute as Brendan Clarke’s poor punch from a corner fell into the path of Kevin Lynch and the left-back rattled the crossbar from 12 yards.
Limerick had one last nervy moment as Hugh Douglas headed wide from a Gary McCabe corner. However, they held out to pick up their first win in nine games. It was a massive victory for the visitors who moved level on points with Bohemians in seventh and moved ahead of Sligo Rovers.
Bray Wanderers: Aaron Dillon, Dan McKenna, Hugh Douglas, Conor Kenna, Kevin Lynch, Paul O’Conor, Rhys Gorman (Ger Pender 63), Daniel Kelly (Sean Heaney 88), Cory Galvin, Ronan Coughlan.
Subs not used:Evan Moran, Shane Flynn, Dylan Hayes, Andy McGovern, Calvin Rogers
Yellow Cards: Kevin Lynch (90)
Red Cards: None
Limerick FC: Brendan Clarke, Shaun Kelly (Tony Whitehead H/T), Killian Brouder, Killian Cantwell, Shane Tracy (Colm Walsh- O’Loughlen 71), Eoin Wearen, Conor Clifford, Shane Duggan, Will Fitzgerald, Billy Dennehy Danny Morrissey.
Subs not used: Tommy Holland, Henry Cameron, Adam Foley, Mark O’Sullivan.
Yellow Cards: Eoin Wearen (28)
Red Cards: None
Referee: Paul McLaughlin
Official Attendance: 470