Limerick 0 Shamrock Rovers 2: Limerick FC may avoid the drop if they beat Sligo Rovers away in their final game of the season next Friday.
But anything less than three points could see the Shannonsiders finish bottom of the table – a position they have occupied all season.
Martin Russell’s side desperately needed a win at the Markets Field, but Rovers recorded a surprisingly comfortable victory considering what was at stake.
First-half strikes from Brandon Miele and Stephen McPhail secured the points in the first fixture between the sides at the venue in 31 years.
Vinny Faherty had the ball in the net early on at the Garryowen venue, but the strike was ruled out for an offside against Paul O’Connor.
Rovers edged ahead in the 13th minute after Miele took advantage of sleepy defending to drive home from the edge of the area.
Limerick responded with their third corner of the game, Patrick Kanyuka almost getting on the end of Ian Turner’s flag kick.
Rovers nearly doubled their advantage on the half hour, with Ryan Brennan shaving the top of the bar with a long range effort.
But the Hoops doubled their lead minutes later via a sublime free kick from Stephen McPhail which flew into the top corner of the net.
Turner netted two minute from the break for Lims, but that was ruled out as Faherty was standing clearly in on offside position inside the six yard box.
Dean Clarke couldn’t get the ball out from under his feet inside the box immediately after the break and Freddy Hall saved Miele’s free.
Limerick created a number of half chances after the interval, but either the Shannonsiders or Drogheda will be automatically relegated on the last day of the season now.
Both sides are on an identical goal-difference, but Drogs are two points head of their fellow strugglers.
Hall, Kanyuka, Kelly, William, Lynch (Tracy 45) Duggan, O’Conor, Russell (Russell 82) Turner, Faherty (Guedjé 86) Clarke
Murphy, Webster, Kenna, Madden, O’Connor, McPhail (McCabe 79) Miele, Brennan, Gregg, R Brennan (Drennan 79), North (Duff 86). Ref: G Kelly (Cork)
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