LIMERICK FC are likely to produce better League performances this season and not claim all three points on offer, but in the context of a fiercely-competitive promotion battle, a 2-0 home victory against a plucky Mervue United side at the end of a hectic playing schedule will do nicely.
Two stunning individual goals, one in either half from Padraig Quinn and substitute Garbhan Coughlan provided the Limerick FC faithful in an attendance of 453 with further evidence that Pat Scully’s side can maintain their strong promotion push right up until the business end of the Airtricity First Division season.
This fixture - coming just 72 hours after the 5-0 demolition of Monaghan United in the EA Sports Cup quarter-final - was always likely to be a tricky one. And so it proved.
Visitors Mervue were full of energy and enthusiasm. Limerick, playing a third game in seven days, looked lethargic at times, their hectic playing schedule taking its toll in the second half especially.
But thankfully from the Blues point of view, the home side produced the two moments of real class in a lively contest.
A stunning 35-yard piledriver from Paudie Quinn, which crashed against the underside of the crossbar before bouncing into the net, helped Limerick into a 36-minute lead.
It was Quinn’s sixth goal of the season and the talented youngster is unlikely to score a better one.
As the second half wore on, Mervue looked the more threatening with tearaway full-back Tom King and the impressive Rory Gaffney posing constant threats to a Limerick defence which was superbly marshalled by team captain Pat Purcell.
The Limerick supporters were growing more nervous as the half wore on. However, a terrific individual goal from Irish Schoolboy international Garbhan Coughlan three minutes from time finally settled those nerves.
Coughlan, who also scored when introduced as a substitute in the League Cup win over Monaghan earlier in the week, fired a terrific shot low into the left hand corner of the Mervue United net to settle the game in Limerick’s favour.
The victory, coupled with Monaghan’s defeat at home to Shels’, has added huge significance to Limerick’s clash with Roddy Collins’ side at Jackman Park on Friday, July 22.
“It has been a great week for us,” said Limerick manager Pat Scully afterwards. “On Tuesday night against Monaghan, you saw the great, pretty side of us when we played some outstanding football. Tonight we showed the gritty, spirited side when we had to dig ourselves in. Again we have the quality.
“We scored two great goals. But to a man we worked so hard and worked together. Paudie Quinn, to me, has been a revelation. He is 18 years of age. He has just been outstanding. If he scored that goal in the Spanish League or the Premier League they would have been raving about it for weeks upon weeks.
“Garbhan Coughlan has been a little bit unlucky with injuries and with Paudie’s form in that he hasn’t had as many games as would have liked him to have. He is an outstanding young player. The two goals showed the qualities the guys have.
“It was very important we picked up the three points. I knew it was going to be difficult after Tuesday. We have a week off now which we badly need.”
LIMERICK FC - Barry Ryan, John Frost, Pat Purcell (Capt), Andrew Bhandarker, Brian McCarthy, Jeffrey Judge, Thomas Lyons (Peter White 65), Stephen McGann (Garbhan Broughall 79), Peter Hynes, Padraig Ryan, Sean Brosnan (Garbhan Coughlan 62).
MERVUE UNITED - Ger Hanley, Tom King, Marc Ludden, Marin Connelly, James Casserley, Noel Varley, David O’Brien, Kevin Crehan, Rory Gaffney, Mike Collins (Jason Molloy 74), John Mountney.
REFEREE - Sean Grant (Wexford)