Limerick FC suffered a 1-0 defeat to Finn Harps at Finn Park in the promotion/relegation playoff. Paddy McCourt converted a 36th minute penalty after Killian Brouder brought down Jesse Devers in the area.
The visitors started brightly as both full backs Shaun Kelly and Shane Tracy were afforded plenty of space by the Harps midfielders. Kelly’s cross was cleared to the onrushing Shane Duggan and the captains effort flew just over the crossbar.
Midway through the first half, the Shannonsiders should have taken the lead as Conor Ellis capitalised on hesitant defending from Sam Todd to round Peter Burke but his effort from a tight angle hit the post. Outside of a Jesse Devers shot, Finn Harps were second best. As a result, it was surprising to see Horgan’s side take the lead when Brouder fouled Devers. McCourt calmly slotted home the penalty.
At the beginning of the second half, a long ball caught out the Limerick high line and John Kavanagh forced a save from Tommy Holland. Billy Dennehy’s acrobatic effort flew just wide in response from Limerick. Despite having plenty of possession and creating many crossing opportunities, Harps centre-backs were well organised by Keith Cowan and cleared the danger all the time.
The two teams will battle it out in the second leg on Friday evening at the Markets Field. Limerick will take plenty of positives from the performance. However, Harps are a strong defensive unit and with Limerick’s problem in front of goal, their premier division status is hanging by a thread.
Finn Harps: Peter Burke, John Kavanagh, Jakob Burg, Keith Cowan, Sam Todd, Ciaran Coll, Gareth Harkin, Paddy McCourt, Jesse Devers, Mikey Place, Nathan Boyle (John O’Flynn)
Limerick FC: Tommy Holland (Jack Brady 68), Shaun Kelly, Killian Cantwell, Killian Brouder, Shane Tracy, Shane Duggan, Cian Coleman, Barry Maguire, Karl O’Sullivan (Will Fitzgerald 54), Billy Dennehy, Conor Ellis (Billy Dennehy 78)