Graham Burke penalty ends Limerick FC’s unbeaten home run

Limerick FC 0 Shamrock Rovers 1

Graham Burke penalty ends Limerick FC’s unbeaten home run

Graham Burke’s 75th-minute penalty lifted his side into second in the table on an evening when Sean Kavanagh was sent off eight minutes later.

The early pressure came from the visitors, Ethan Boyle combining with Graham Burke to whip the ball across the area but Killian Cantwell defended well.

Limerick, using Connor Ellis as a lone striker, responded via Will Fitzgerald’s massive throw which bounced across the area and an inviting cross from Billy Dennehy which was wasted at a vacated back post.

Ronan Finn flashed an effort narrowly wide and Will Fitzgerald beat Rovers keeper Tomer Chencinski to the ball but his effort was cleared off the line by Roberto Lopes with the Shannonsiders appealing in vain for handball.

Rovers were beginning to boss possession, with Gary Shaw nearly getting his boot to a Sean Kavanagh cross, while Fitzgerald almost released Ellis but Lopes snuffed out the danger.

Burke’s speculative effort came back off a Limerick defender and Killian Brouder again cleared after the ball was returned across the box after a Kavanagh free kick.

Limerick, with former boss Eoin Hand — the last man to lead the Blues to the Premier title over 30 years ago — watching from the stand, continued to slug it out with the Hoops in midfield.

The Dubliners, breaking swiftly from defence, continued to threaten, with Burke’s effort flying wide ten minutes from the interval and Graham Burke driving a free-kick inches over.

Cian Coleman was booked for a foul on Joel Coustrain but Burke’s almost identical free-kick was off target, and a third free-kick — right in the centre, 20 yards out — saw Kavanagh fire straight at keeper Brendan Clarke.

Fitzgerald skipped past two defenders but was denied by Lopes again two minutes after the break and Tony Whitehead did well to keep out Boyle’s low cross.

Limerick’s second corner of the game saw Ellis going close at the near post and Cantwell drove over from a Shaun Kelly centre while Clarke was alert after a fine move at the opposite end.

Dan Carr, a 64th-minute replacement for Shaw, headed wide from a Kavanagh centre and a Dennehy free went whistling across the six-yard box, while Coleman drove over after leaving two defenders for dead.

Rovers edged ahead after Burke netted from the spot following a Kelly foul on Finn 15 minutes from time.

Kavanagh saw a straight red following an incident with Dennehy in the 83rd minute.

Limerick piled on the pressure in the final stretch, Brouder going close, but Carr should have sealed the win in injury time after being left in a one-on-one with Clarke.

LIMERICK FC: Clarke, Kelly (McGowan 80), Brouder, Whitehead (Foley 88), Dennehy, Cameron (O’Sullivan 62) Coleman, Cantwell, Duggan, Ellis, Fitzgerald.

SHAMROCK ROVERS: Chencinski, Clake, Lopes, Grace, Boyle, Finn, Bone, Coustrain (Miele 73), Burke (Byrne 86) Kavanagh, Shaw (Carr 64)

Referee: G Kelly (Cork).

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