Limerick District League made the perfect start in the Oscar Traynor Trophy with a 2-1 victory over Clare District League. Goals from Clyde O’Connell and Connor Ellis cancelled out Rory Hayes opener for Clare as John Grehan’s side now top the group.
Limerick started with a 4-2-3-1 formation with Danny O’Neill, John Mullane, Pat Mullins and Michael Guerin playing in defence in front of Gary Neville. Shane Walsh and Clyde O’Connell were operating as two defensive midfielders with Colin Daly supporting Kieran Hanlon as a number 10.
Surprisingly once again, Connor Ellis was not the preferred striker as he started on the left of a front three with Eoin Hanrahan on the right.
The first chance of the game fell to Limerick as Colin Daly turned on to his left foot before shooting tamely at Shane Cusack, who easily gathered in the Clare goal.
The first big chance of the game fell to the visitors as Pat Mullins fouled David McCarthy on the edge of the box and McCarthy’s low free-kick was blocked by the wall and went agonisingly wide of the post.
McCarthy was playing a prominent role for Clare as Cian O’Dea set up the number ten at the edge of the box and he forced a great save from Neville.
Grehan’s Limerick side began to settle after that scare and should have taken the lead when Mullins rose highest to meet Eoin Hanrahan’s corner but failed to direct his strong header goal wards.
At the beginning of the second half, disaster struck for Limerick as they surrendered possession in the final third and right winger Kieran Mahoney set Rory Hayes on his way on the break and he blasted beyond Neville.
The goal appeared to awaken the home side following the concession and made three substitutions with Shane Clarke, AJ O’Connor and Adrian Power replacing Eoin Hanrahan, Michael Guerin and Kieran Hanlon. All three made positive impacts.
The equalising goal came through Danny O’Neill’s corner delivery as Clyde O’Connell powered a near post header beyond Cusack. O’Neill’s corners had caused trouble for the visiting defence all through the second period.
It was from this route that the home side took the lead as Cusack’s poor punch from an O’Neill corner fell to Ellis at the edge of the box and the former Limerick FC man made no mistake as he buried a shot into the bottom corner.
Clare were running out of ideas and Newmarket player Kieran Mahony tried a shot from range which sailed harmlessly over Neville’s crossbar. At the other end, substitute Keith Mawdsley was played through but his shot was blocked by the advancing Cusack.
There was a late scare for Limerick to contend with as Mahony’s in-swinging corner looked set to be met by Callum McNamara but he totally mis-kicked at the crucial moment on the penalty spot.
Luckily, that was the last scare for the Limerick side but it was a deserved victory on the balance of play in the second half for the home side who sit on top of the group following the win.
Limerick District League will now face Limerick Desmond League at Clonreask in Askeaton on Tuesday night.
Limerick District League: Gary Neville, Danny O’Neill, Pat Mullins, John Mullane, Michael Guerin (AJ O’Connor), Clyde O’Connell, Shane Walsh (Keith Mawdsley), Colin Daly, Eoin Hanrahan (Adrian Power), Connor Ellis, Kieran Hanlon (Shane Clarke)
Clare District League: Shane Cusack, Conor Mullen, Aidan Leahy (Nathan Walsh), Dylan Casey , Ciaran Monaghan (Ruari Norroy), Callum McNamara, Kieran Hackett (Cian McDonagh), David McCarthy (Eoin Hayes), Kieran Mahony, Cian O’Dea, Rory Hayes