Cork City 2 Limerick 3: A rejuvenated Limerick put a major dent in Cork City’s title challenge and gave their survival hopes another major boost as they claimed all three points in a rip-roaring Munster derby at Turners Cross last night.
Limerick had to wait until August for their first win of the season but they have now won their last three games and they fully deserved this win as they refused to lie down after twice being pegged back after going in front as City’s title hopes are now left hanging by a thread.
City had only conceded 11 goals in 22 league games previous to last night but a calamitous defensive display now leaves them with a massive task if they are to overhaul Dundalk.
Limerick manager Martin Russell was forced into making two changes to last week’s winning side with Shaun Kelly and Patrick Kanyuka suspended and their places went to Paudie O’Connor and Sean Russell.
The Shannonsiders took the game to City from the outset pressing the home side high up the pitch and not giving them any time on the ball.
Limerick went close as early as the second minute when Mark McNulty miscued a clearance which landed at the feet of Lee Lynch, who tried his luck with a first time effort from 30 yards which the City keeper did well to save.
The home side struggled to get outside their own half in the opening minutes and were made pay for their poor start in the 7th minute when Lynch found Vinny Faherty in acres of space on the edge of the box before the striker took a touch and buried his shot past McNulty.
Lynch then shot straight at McNulty before Dean Clarke had a great chance to put Limerick further in front when he was allowed run 40 yards before firing wide with only McNulty to beat.
City lost skipper John Dunleavy following a sickening clash of heads with Robbie Williams and the lengthy stoppage seemed to disrupt Limerick’s tempo as City drew level within three minutes of Dunleavy’s exit when substitute Gaynor picked the ball up on the right side before crossing low and the ball evaded everyone before nestling in the corner of Freddy Hall’s net.
The goal finally awakened City and Murray should have had them in front 8 minutes later but he side-footed Karl Sheppard’s low cross over from six yards.
City were hit on the counter attack 9 minutes from the break.
It started when Kevin ‘O’Connor’s free-kick from the right side of the box was cleared and with O’Connor out of position, Sean Russell found Ian Turner who strolled forward and his shot was brilliantly saved by McNulty but Clarke followed up to force the ball home.
City lost Mark O’Sullivan, who had scored six goals in his last five games before last night, at half-time and he was replaced by John O’Flynn.
McNulty almost gifted Limerick a third seven minutes into the second half when his clearance struck Faherty and bounced inches wide.
Sheppard then flashed an effort narrowly wide before the equaliser arrived 12 minutes in when Bennett’s header from Colin Healy’s corner was blocked on the line and O’Flynn pounced.
It was only the second goal of the season for the Cobh man and Limerick will feel aggrieved as it looked like Steven Beattie had fouled Hall before the corner was awarded.
Limerick refused to lie down and were back in front in the 65th minute following more poor defending as Paudie O’Connor was left unmarked to head Russell’s inswinging free-kick home.
Murray then went close with a header before McNulty saved well from Clarke as the chances continued to flow at both ends. City poured on the pressure in the closing minutes but couldn’t force an equaliser as they tasted defeat for the first time since going down to Dundalk in April.
McNulty, Healy, Bennett, Murray, O’Connor, Beattie, Miller, Buckley, Dunleavy (Gaynor 18), Sheppard, O’Sullivan (O’Flynn 45).
Hall, Paul O’Conor, Paudie O’Connor, Williams, Tracy, Turner, Duggan, Lynch, Russell (Agyemang 82), Clarke (Rainsford 90), Faherty.
D McKeon (Dublin)
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