Bohemians 2 Limerick 1
Veteran Jason Byrne came off the bench last night to score his first league goal of the season and send Bohemians into third spot in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division.
With six minutes remaining against Limerick, the former Ireland international latched onto a left-wing cross by Lorcan Fitzgerald with his back to goal and inside a crowded penalty area before swivelling and drilling a shot home.
The instinctive strike was Byrne’s 217th league goal of a glittering career, moving him to within 18 of all-time record scorer Brendan Bradley.
Defeat was harsh on winless Limerick, who had got back on level terms early in the second half through Dean Clarke’s first league goal of the campaign after Derek Prendergast headed the Gypsies into an early lead.
Bohemians made three changes to the side which drew 1-1 against Cork City on Monday. The injured Anto Murphy was replaced by Dave Mulcahy, while Adam Evans was rewarded for his equaliser against Cork by starting in place of Keith Buckley. Dean Kelly returned at the expense of Marc Griffin.
For basement side Limerick, Martin Russell had to make do without his son Sean through illness, with his place on the left wing handed to Darragh Rainsford.
On 11 minutes the Gypsies forged ahead. Fitzgerald’s out-swinging corner allowed Prendergast to barge past a couple of defenders to bury a powerful header past the goalkeeper from eight yards.
That was the 26th goal conceded by Russell’s side this term and their problems in defence were evident once again on 20 minutes. Hesitancy at the back, coupled with Kelly harrying O’Donnell, led to the stopper finding the feet of Kealan Dillon with his rushed clearance.
The former Hull City trainee had plenty of time to shoot from 25 yards, but his effort lacked power and allowed O’Donnell to gather safely.
Limerick were given another let-off as the interval approached, with Kelly nodding off the crossbar; however, the assistant’s flag was raised for offside.
Bohs almost nicked a second straight after the restart. Kelly’s ploy of pressuring the goalkeeper proved effective, with only the post denying him after he charged down O’Donnell’s clearance.
The rare highlights for Lims this season, such as their late equalisers against Dundalk and Sligo, have come from set-pieces and that was their source of joy again last night.
After Ian Turner’s neat 52nd-minute lob was pushed over by Dean Delaney, Shane Tracy’s resultant corner caused chaos in the hosts’ box. Fitzgerald had to clear Paudie O’Connor’s header off the line but the rebound was miscontrolled by Prendergast, leaving Clarke to finish from close range.
With their tails up, Limerick threatened another: Both Robbie Williams and O’Connor narrowly missed the target with headers.
Undeterred, Bohs remained lively in attack. Evans saw his low shot foiled by the feet of O’Donnell ten minutes from the end just before substitute Marc Griffin blazed over when sent clear on goal.
Bohs pressed on for the winner, however, and it was gleefully supplied by their 37-year-old marksman.
BOHEMIANS: Delany; Pender, Prendergast, Mulcahy, Fitzgerald; Creevy (Buckley 75), Lopes; P Kavanagh, Dillon (Griffin 57), Evans; Kelly (Byrne 78).
LIMERICK: O’Donnell; Harding (Hughes 45), Paudie O’Connor, Williams, Tracy; Duggan, Paul O’Conor; Turner, Faherty (Hanlon 79), Rainsford; Clarke.
Referee: Ryan Stewart (Cardiff)
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