Kelly’s cracker gives Limerick narrow advantage

Limerick FC will take a one-goal advantage to Ballbofey on Friday night following a pulsating promotion/ relegation play off with Finn Harps at a sold-out Markets Field last night.
Kelly’s cracker gives Limerick narrow advantage

Shaun Kelly was on target for the Shannonsiders whose battle to avoid relegation is one of the stories of Irish football in 2015.

They’re calling it the “great escape” on Shannonside, and it’s not hard to see why. Martin Russell’s side took just six points from their first 21 games this term.

But they’ve claimed 23 points from their final 12 games, culminating in last Friday’s away victory over Sligo which lifted them off the basement.

That win relegated Drogheda, while Limerick survived to meet Finn Harps in the first leg of a home and away promotion/relegation play off last evening.

Harps, however, weren’t at the Garryowen venue as a backdrop for Limerick’s footballing equivalent of the 1963 “The Great Escape” film starring Steve McQueen.

The visitors, seeking to return to the Premier Division for the first time since 2008, worked hard all evening and Nathan Boyle looked a threat until he limped off on 53 minutes.

Limerick almost drew first blood with Josh Mailey nodding a 8th minute Shaun Kelly cross off his own bar and Ciaran Gallagher saving from Shane Tracy moments later.

Vinny Faherty saw his under hit volley from a Clarke cross hacked off the line by Packie Mailey mid-way through the half.

The Shannonsiders finally made the breakthrough ten minutes from the interval, courtesy of brilliant effort from Kelly.

Ian Turner kept the ball alive and fed it back to the Limerick defender who dispatched a stunner into the roof of the net from the edge of the box.

But Kelly was almost the villain minutes later after heading over his own keeper Freddy Hall, but Boyle was left with too much of an angle to net.

Faherty threatened again on the hour from a ball from Tracy, but Gallagher was once again equal to the effort, with O’Conor also going close.

Faherty hit the post with a header from a Turner cross 15 minutes from time, but BJ Banda missed an open goal for Harps five minute later after rounding Hall. Faherty went close again from a Shane Duggan cross four minutes from time, but Limerick had to content with a one-goal advantage going into the second leg.

LIMERICK FC:

Hall, Williams, Kelly, Kanyuka, Tracy, O’Conor, Duggan, Russell, Turner, Clarke (Lynch 69), Faherty

FINN HARPS:

Gallagher, Cowan, Coll, Crossan (Foy 61) Mailey, P Mailey, McNulty, Funston (Tagbo 82) McNamee, Harkin, Boyle inj (Banda 53)

Referee:

R Rogers (Dublin)

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