Limerick FC bowed out of the FAI Cup on Friday night when they were beaten 1-0 by Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght Stadium.
It was a night of sheer frustration and bitter disappointment for Limerick FC as they rattled Premier Division high flyers Shamrock Rovers in their FAI Ford Cup second round tie, but ultimately didn’t even have the consolation of bringing the tie to a lucrative replay at Jackman Park.
Substitute Stephen O’Donnell bagged the match winner mid-way through the second half as Rovers laboured to victory over their plucky First Division opponents.
Limerick were left cursing their luck in the second half as match referee Buttimer turned two decent penalty shouts from the visitors, the second looking a clear cut decision when captain Pat Purcell was pushed in the back inside the box late on.
The visitors were also furious early in the half when Killian Brennan handled the ball in the box, but Buttimer ruled the contact accidental.
The Blues were also on the end of another tough call when substitute Paudie Quinn was red-carded shortly after coming onto the pitch as a second half replacement.
Limerick FC, who were forced to line out without the suspended Denis Behan, Joe Gamble who is on honeymoon and Garry Sheahan who is injured, have little time to rue what might-have-been.
Pat Scully’s side face a crucial top of the table clash in the Airtricity League First Division against table toppers Longford Town at Flancare Park on Saturday night.
Limerick FC manager Pat Scully will be encouraged by his side’s gritty display as the understrength Blues held their own against the back-to-back Premier Division champions.
The Shannonsiders have grand ambitions of joining the Hoops in the upper echelons of the Premier Division sometime soon and, while a cup run would have been nice, promotion is their key aim.
Pat Scully said: “The disappointing thing is when you get hit with the injuries we have and you are coming to take on Rovers. It is the substitutions we can use. We would have loved to have changed it 10 minutes into the second half, we would have liked to have a few more options.
“But it would have been grossly unfair to have brought some of the younger lads on.
“I have complaints outside of the players. We played really well tonight and we went toe to toe with them. In the end, they were very, very nervy.
“I just feel we were very hard done by. I feel there were two very easy decisions for the referee to make. They were blatant.
“With their goal, we should have closed it down. Daryl (Kavanagh) is a really good player, we know him well. They had the option from the bench to bring on Daryl and a few more. We didn’t have that. We made one tactical mistake and they scored from it.
“Fifteen minutes into the second half we needed to change it. Stephen Bradley had been sick, but fair play to him, he came on for 15 minutes which was the maximum he could play for.
“The real story from here is one of disappointment. I think everyone here will say they were two nailed on penalties.
“We are disappointed. We wanted to have a good cup run. We got the toughest draw we could have. But we are not here for moral victories. We are disappointed to be out of the Cup.
“I genuinely feel for the last four or five weeks the players are starting to get their spirit back. I think it showed in the spirit. Down to 10 men and to push them like with did in the last 10 minutes, was fantastic.
“We have an important game next week against Longford.”
The all-important goal in the 68th minute with Stephen O’Donnell tapping home after Barry Ryan had spilled a powerful Daryl Kavanagh drive.
SHAMROCK ROVERS – Oscar Jansson; Kerrea Gilbert, Craig Sives, Graham Gartland, Conor Powell; Gary McCabe (Conor McCormack 93), Stephen Rice, Killian Brennan (Stephen O’Donnell 60), Billy Dennehy; Gary O’Neill (Daryl Kavanagh 54), Gary Twigg (Capt).
LIMERICK FC – Barry Ryan; Shaun Kelly, Pat Purcell (Capt), Shane Gutherie (Colin Daly 82), Shane Tracy; Corie Treacy, David O’Leary, Garbhan Coughlan (Stephen Bradley 69), Stephen McGann, James McGrath (Paudie Quinn 75); Rory Gaffney.
REFEREE – Anthony Buttimer (Cork)