LIMERICK FC’s survival hopes in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division were dented by a 3-1 defeat to champions elect Dundalk before an official attendance of 2,178 at the Markets Field on Saturday night.
Three goals in six second half minutes from Richie Towell, two, and Ciaran Kilduff, ended Limerick FC’s seven game unbeaten run in the top flight.
Martin Russell’s Limerick side looked to be closing in on another sensational victory when holding a 1-0 lead with 15 minutes remaining. However, Dundalk showed the hallmark of champions when stunning their hosts with a three-goal blitz between the 76th and 82nd minutes to run out deserving winners.
Limerick FC made a sensational start when Dean Clarke fired home from inside the seven yard box after Paul O’Conor flicked on Shane Tracy’s second minute corner. The champions-elect responded well to that early body blow and it took a very smart save from Blues netminder Freddy Hall to deny David McMillan after the Dundalk player had robbed Robbie Williams of possession.
Both sides continued to create a hatful of scoring chances in an open and hugely entertaining first 45 minutes. Dundalk keeper Gary Rogers did very well to tip Shane Tracy curling effort out for a corner in the 15th minute as the home supporters lapped up the exciting fare.
The visitors were almost in front on 24 minutes as Richie Towell’s shot was pushed away by Hall. An alert Daryl Horgan looked set to tap the ball into the net, but Shaun Kelly covered across well to avert the danger.
Blues ‘keeper Hall did well to deny both Finn and McMillan just after the half hour mark.
Vinny Faherty came agonisingly close to doubling Limerick’s lead close to half-time when his 30-yard effort on goal was deflected over Dundalk ‘keeper Gary Rogers. Luckily for Rogers the ball looped just outside the post.
Limerick FC maintained their precious 1-0 lead to half-time and looked reasonably comfortable at the back through the third quarter.
However, a clinical Dundalk side drew level through Richie Towell in the 76th minute. And the Co Louth side were in front when Towell fired home again four minutes later. A third Dundalk goal from substitute Ciaran Kilduff in the 82nd minute flattered the visitors who are now within touching distance of retaining their Premier Division title.
LIMERICK FC: Freddy Hall, Shaun Kelly, Robbie Williams, Paul O’Conor (Prince Agyemang 68), Ian Turner, Shane Duggan (Capt), Dean Clarke, Vinny Faherty, Shane Tracy, Lee J Lynch (Sean Russell 68), Patrick Kanyuka.
DUNDALK: Gary Rogers, Sean Gannon, Andy Boyle Chris Shields, Daryl Horgan, David McMillan (Ciaran Kilduff 66), Ronan Finn, Dane Massey, Paddy Barrett, Richiw Towell, Darren meenan (John Mountney 74).
REFEREE: Neil Doyle (Dublin)