Rory Gaffney slotted under Town keeper Pat Jennings in the 17th minute after David O’Leary dummied Stephen Bradley’s through ball.
The visitors restored parity courtesy of ex-Lims favourite Garvin Broughall’s 73rd-minute chip over keeper Dave Ryan. However, Limerick edged back in front 11 minutes from time when Gaffney broke through from the halfway line and drilled a low shot under Jennings. Gaffney was denied a hat-trick by a brilliant last-ditch challenge from Brian McCarthy.
LIMERICK FC: Ryan, Kelly, Purcell, Guthrie, Gaffney, Tracy, O’Leary, Sheahan (McGann 80), Behan, Bradley, Sheedy (Brosnan 66).
ATHLONE: Jennings, Scullion, Kenny (Williamson 49) Walsh (Woods 46) McCarthy, Relihan, Rushe (Guerin 84), Gill, Broughall, Sherlock, Hughes.
Referee: K Callinan (Cork).
By Chris Ashmore
Waterford United struck late to consign Harps to their fifth defeat on the trot at Finn Park. Ben Ryan fired the winner in the 83rd minute as Harps failed to clear a corner from Paul Phelan.
Harps’ best chance of the first half fell to Blain Curtis who fired just wide.
In a livelier second half, Sean McGuire threatened for United but Ciaran Coll, Aaron O’Hagan and Paul Simon Tracey wasted chances on a frustrating night for Harps.
FINN HARPS: Gallagher, Bonner, Coll, McMonagle, McGowan, O’Hagan, McBride, Harkin, Curtis, McGinty, Tracey. Subs: Merritt for Curtis (54), Duffy for McGinty (85).
WATERFORD UTD: Holden, Carey, Frost, Dempsey, Long, Burns, Keegan, Higgins, Phelan, McGuire, Ryan. Subs: Mernagh for Carey (24), Dunphy for Frost (58), Walsh for Keegan (81).
Referee: Mr P. Caschera (Dublin).
Leaders Longford made hard work of beating SD Galway at Flancare Park last night.
Jamie Duffy grabbed the winning goal on 18 minutes. On 77 minutes Enda Kirby almost equalised but keeper Craig Hyland made a fine save, and four minutes later Alan Kirby should have made the game safe but scuffed his shot.
Alan Murphy grabbed a brace as Mervue saw off Wexford at Fahy’s Field last night.
Jason Molloy’s fine curled effort just two minutes before the break gave Mervue the lead. Murphy grabbed his second on 65 minutes as he headed home Pat Hoban’s cross and Murphy grabbed his second three minutes from time.