Limerick FC took another step closer to a return to top flight football when they drew 1-1 with Finn Harps in Ballybofey on Saturday night.
In one sense it’s a case of two points dropped as Longford Town closed the gap at the top to four points but it keeps Pat Scully’s side in the driving seat with just six games remaining. And the point gained in Donegal guarantees them a play-off spot at the very worst.
Shane Tracy scored the opening goal in fortuitous fashion two minutes shy of the interval when his free-kick took a huge deflection off the unfortunate Aaron O’Hagan in the wall to wrong-foot Ciaran Gallagher in the Harps goal
It was an undeserved slice of bad luck for the hosts. The Ballybofey side went into the match on the back of a six-game unbeaten run that stretched back to June and their first half performance was arguably as good as anything they’ve produced all season, especially when considering the lofty status of the opposition.
Rather peculiarly, at a stage in part two when Limerick appeared to be as comfortable as one can be with a one-goal lead, Paul McVeigh stabbed past Barry Ryan from six yards out following James Doherty’s inviting centre on 73 minutes.
Finn Harps opened much the brighter in a reasonably entertaining first 45 minutes. Limerick had Robert Kluciar to thank for a last ditch challenge to deny McVeigh moments after the lively Harps frontman was narrowly off the mark with a volley.
Limerick were slow to start but as they felt their way into the match, they shrieked for a penalty when Gallagher in the Harps goal went to ground as Sean Brosnan snuck in late and was felled. However, match referee Ray Matthews merely shook his head and signalled for play to continue. However, Limerick found the net just before the break when Tracy was on target.
Brosnan went close twice at the start of the second half. First, Gallagher did well to turn his drive around the post in a crowded penalty area and from the resultant corner, which was delivered by Tracy, the Brosnan headed just wide.
Limerick appeared to look that little bit more in control of the situation after the break but McVeigh’s equaliser breathed life into the home support. That’s the way it stayed though as Limerick settled for a share of the spoils. Limerick now have a two-week break before they entertain Waterford Utd at home on August 31.
Finn Harps - Ciaran Gallagher; James Doherty, Thomas McMonagle, Keith Cowan, Ciaran Coll (Mark Scoltock 66); Gary Merritt (Adam Clarke 66), Aaron O’Hagan, Shaun McGowan, Paul McVeigh; Matthew Harkin, Kevin McHugh.
Limerick FC - Barry Ryan; Shaun Kelly, Robert Kluciar, Pat Purcell, Shane Tracy; Jeffrey Judge (Stephen Bradley 83), Joe Gamble, Sean Brosnan, Corie Treacy; Dom Foley, Rory Gaffney.
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