Limerick FC’s unlikely play-off push all but ended on Friday night when the Shannonsiders suffered a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Drogheda United. Despite being 1-0 up , four second half goals from the visitors led them to victory.
In the opening 5 minutes, Limerick FC took the lead when Clyde O’Connell powered home a header from a Shane Tracy free-kick delivery. Moments later, Kieran Hanlon did well to hold off the advances of Luke Heeney before squaring the ball to Sean McSweeney but the second striker couldn’t keep his effort below the crossbar, albeit it was a difficult chance to convert.
O’Connell came close to grabbing his and Limerick’s second goal of the game when he connected with another Tracy corner but he couldn’t direct the header on target. Hanlon was causing massive problems for Gallagher and McNally at the back and his flick on for Lee Devitt set the winger free but his shot was always rising over the bar.
As we approached half-time, Jack Brady was called into action as he palmed away Gallagher’s effort from the edge of the box. Also, Chris Lyons came close to an equaliser as his shot from distance went millimetres above Brady’s crossbar.
At the beginning of the second half, the Super Blues should have extended their lead when Lee Devitt’s flick on found Hanlon who outraced Gallagher before being denied by the feet of Luka Gratzer. The home side were made to pay for their lack of killer instinct when Drogheda equalised. Limerick failed to clear a routine through ball and Hollywood was waiting at the back post to tap in.
After equalising, the Boynesiders looked the more likely to score and after winning possession from Jason Hughes, Jake Hyland fed Stephen Meaney and his effort was deflected over.
As it looked like the Shannonsiders had cleared the resulting corner, Sean Brennan re-delivered the ball into the box and Luke McNally had a free header at the back post which was saved by Brady.
Shane Tracy’s deliveries had been perfect all evening and Robbie Williams almost became the second beneficiary but he headed wide of the right hand post. Unfortunately, the away side went in front and it was Tommy Barrett’s side’s own doing.
Limerick gave away possession on the half way line and Mark Doyle released Chris Lyons who squared it for captain Jake Hyland to finish at the back post.
With ten minutes remaining, Drogheda were awarded a penalty as Clyde O’Connell was adjudged to have committed a foul and Mark Doyle converted the penalty. Five minutes later, Tim Clancy’s men grabbed a fourth when Ryan O’Shea beat Jack Brady with a low drive to the bottom corner of the net.
It was a bitter last 15 minutes for Limerick who had been more than a match for their opponents for an hour of the game. However, Drogheda’s superior fitness and striking power led them to victory. Tommy Barrett’s side now fall seven points behind the play-off ahead of next week’s home game with Cobh Ramblers.
Limerick FC: Jack Brady, Shaun Kelly, Robbie Williams, Clyde O’Connell, Aaron Fitzgerald (Alan Murphy 75), Jason Hughes, Shane Tracy, Lee Devitt, Karl O’Sullivan (Ger Barry 90), Sean McSweeney (Adam Foley 75) Kieran Hanlon.
Unused substitutes: Corey McManus, Sean Madigan, Ciaran O’Reilly, Edmond O’Dwyer
Drogheda United: Luka Gratzer, Conor Kane, Luke Gallagher, Luke McNally, Luke Heeney, Jake Hyland, Jamie Hollywood, Sean Brennan (Cian Kavanagh 75), Chris Lyons (Ryan O’Shea 78), Mark Doyle, Stephen Meaney (Jordan Adayemo 62)
Unused substitutes: James Clarke, Paul Skinner, Kevin Farragher, Eoin McPhillips