Goals from Denis Behan and Cian Collins secured the three points for Limerick FC as they prevailed by a scoreline of two goals to nil over ten-man Mervue at Jackman Park.
Both sides opted for a single striker up front; a tactic that Pat Scully would appear rather fond of, despite being the favourites for the league title and playing at home.
With just eight minutes gone, Denis Behan had Ronan Forde beaten as he rounded the goalkeeper with ease. The assistant’s flag proved to be Behan’s demise on this occasion as his certain goal would have been ruled out for offside.
Clear cut chances were always going to be few and far between with such a congested midfield but Limerick did their best at finding the odd incisive pass; creating an opportunity for Behan.
Efforts from Derek O’Brien seemed the most likely goal source just shy of the half hour mark, but neither his strike, nor his header could find a way past Ronan Forde.
It was O’Brien once more with two efforts before the half. The first was a headed effort following a long throw from Rory Gaffney. The former Cork City winger just couldn’t keep his attempt down, much to the relief of Forde once more.
Just before the half, ex-Mervue man Rory Gaffney skipped past three of his ex team mates before failing to really test the Mervue keeper. The frustration was beginning to creep in for the home side as they couldn’t find the break through.
Limerick almost took the lead two minutes into the second half as Denis Behan connected well with Gaffney’s cross, only for Mike Elwood to be on hand to clear off the line. Behan had another effort minutes later, this time a header, but again, cleared off the line.
Just as Mervue might have felt a win was there for them to grasp if they wanted it, Limerick struck just before the hour mark. Stephen Bradley’s corner found Denis Behan rising right on the penalty spot. His powerful header almost took the netting from the goal, as Limerick finally could breathe a little easier.
Limerick might have extended their lead only moments later as Rory Gaffney cut in from a wide position. Instead of playing in Denis Behan, who was arguably in a better position, he opted to shoot, much to the annoyance of his team mate. The resulting effort didn’t threaten.
In the space of two minutes, Mervue’s Gary Kelly was shown two yellow cards. His dismissal didn’t seem to bother the away side too much, as they went in search of an equaliser. They should have perhaps been level in the latter stages as Pat Hoban was free following a mistake from captain Paddy Purcell. His effort came to nothing however, and Limerick were let off the hook.
Limerick sealed the win with just two minutes remaining. After a through ball from Rory Gaffney, Denis Behan got the flick on, and the youngster Cian Collins was on hand to finish off the move; firstly heading past Forde, and knocking it in from close range.
Despite not having the best of games, a win is a win for Limerick and they will enjoy coming away with the three points that close the gap to a single point at the top of the table.
Limerick FC: Dave Ryan; Shaun Kelly, Paddy Purcell, Shane Guthrie, Shane Tracy; Rory Gaffney, David O’Leary (James McGrath 87), Stephen Bradley, Joe Gamble, Derek O’Brien (Cian Collins 70); Denis Behan.
Unused Subs: Barry Ryan, Corie Treacy, Garry Sheahan, Steven McGann, Paudie Quinn.
Mervue United: Ronan Forde; Mike Elwood (Martin Conneely 60), Gary Kelly, Mark Ludden, Michael McSweeney; Damian O’Rourke (James Casserly 89), Shane Keogh, Jason Molloy, Stephen Walsh (Etanda Nkololo 69); Pat Hoban, Alan Murphy.
Unused Subs: Conor O'Malley, Michael Collins, Alex Lee, Barry McEntee.
Referee: Sean Grant.
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Denis Behan.
Andrew joined Extratime for the 2010 season and covers all the on-goings down in Limerick. Having first experienced the League of Ireland in 2002, Andrew became hooked, even at such an early age. He is currently studying English and New Media at the University of Limerick. You can contact him via Twitter @Cunneen92.