LIMERICK FC bounced back from last week’s disappointing defeat to Waterford United with a resounding 4-0 triumph over Mervue United at Jackman Park on Friday.
Goals from Shane Tracy, Dave O’Leary, Rory Gaffney and Denis Behan steered Limerick to a comprehensive win against 10-man Mervue.
Pat Scully would have wanted a stirring reaction from his players after the previous week and the home side started with real intent, putting Mervue under pressure from the off.
Gaffney had a couple of early attempts but couldn’t find the target as Limerick took the initiative straight away in seeking the goal that would soothe the home fans’ nerves.
The visitors weren’t completely dominated, though, and they had a couple of sights of Barry Ryan’s goal, with Jean Biansumba turning well before firing just wide in the 23rd minute.
Limerick, however, soon reasserted their superiority and almost took the lead when Joe Gamble got his head to a Tracy corner, only for the ball to bounce over the crossbar.
The game’s major turning point came in the 33rd minute when Mervue captain Mike Elwood was adjudged to have handled a goal-bound shot and referee Andrew Mullally showed him a straight red card.
Tracy arrowed the resulting penalty into the bottom corner beyond the dive of keeper Ger Hanley to open the scoring for Limerick.
The hosts now had the goal to go along with their command of the play and they kicked on from that position, adding a second before half-time.
Gaffney supplied the cross for the returning O’Leary to head to the net and with a 2-0 lead at the break, Limerick looked well placed to secure the points.
They picked up where they left off after half-time, James McGrath nearly making it three early in the second half, but his header was just too high.
The third goal wasn’t long in coming, though, and it was one of real class, McGrath’s excellent through ball setting up Gaffney, who coolly dispatched it to the net.
It was a goal his performance deserved, his trickery and pace bamboozling the Mervue defence throughout the game.
After going 3-0 up it became a procession for Limerick, with Behan firing straight at Hanley from close range before the keeper pulled off a fine save from a Shaun Kelly strike on the hour mark.
Midway through the second half, Cian Collins and Garbhan Coughlan came on for Gaffney and Derek O’Brien respectively and they kept up the good work of the players they replaced.
Behan continued to try his luck in front of goal and another downward Gamble header almost found the net as Limerick refused to let up.
On 82 minutes the home side raised another cheer when Coughlan played through Behan, who slotted it home to finally get the goal his efforts merited.
As well as being clinical in front of goal, Limerick were attentive enough at the back to prevent Mervue from getting anywhere close to spoiling Ryan’s clean sheet.
Regardless of the gulf in the table between the sides or the one-man advantage for Limerick for almost an hour of the game, this professional performance was just the tonic for Scully and his players to get their promotion push back on course.
LIMERICK FC – Barry Ryan, Shaun Kelly, Pat Purcell (Capt), Corie Treacy, Shane Tracy, James McGrath, Joe Gamble, David O’Leary (Robert Kluciar 78), Derek O’Brien (Garbhan Coughlan 67), Rory Gaffney (Cian Collins 64), Denis Behan.
MERVUE UNITED – Ger Hanley, Gary Kelly, Mike Elwood (Capt), Michael McSweeney (Brian Connolly 71), Stephen Walsh, Jean Biansumba (Alex Lee 85), Dan Cunningham, Shane Keogh, Cian McBrien, Tom Kng (Martin Conneely 64), Pat Hoban.
REFEREE – Andrew Mullally (Waterford).
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