LIMERICK FC will face St Patrick’s Athletic or Dundalk in the semi-finals of the Under-19 National League play-offs after the Blues scored a dramatic penalty shoot-out victory over Sligo Rovers after a 10-goal thriller.
Seán McSweeney was the star of the show as his wonder goal in extra-time kept Limerick’s Under-19 National League dream alive, with Killian Brouder going on to score the decisive penalty after a dramatic 5-5 draw at a rain and windswept Showgrounds on Saturday.
Limerick fell behind inside two minutes when Liam Flatley struck, but by the half-hour the Blues were in control, leading 3-1 through goals from McSweeney, Yoyo Mahdy and Liam McCartan.
Sligo were within touching distance soon after when Brian Morley netted, but Limerick restored their two-goal cushion when Killian Brouder fired in after a corner was only half cleared, past the hour-mark.
Still, there was plenty of life left in the game and substitute Paul Doyle brought it back to 4-3 with a long-range free-kick. Blues captain Paudie O’Connor was harshly dismissed on 84 minutes, and Sligo grabbed an equaliser right at the death through Morley to force extra-time.
The hosts then put one foot in the semi-final with Gary Armstrong’s penalty, but Limerick recovered and McSweeney supplied an incredible goal from distance which went in off the crossbar to make it 5-5 on 103 minutes.
Goalkeeper Tommy Holland ensured there would be a shootout after he denied Mikey Place three times – the first one in particular a superb stop – before Limerick went down to nine after vice-captain Val Feeney was sent-off.
In the shootout, Limerick were perfect from five, while Holland denied skipper Ross Taheny midway through it as they sealed a place in the last four for the second season in succession.
Limerick now prepare for next weekend’s semi-final where they face a home tie against either Saint Patrick’s Athletic – who they met at that stage last season – or Dundalk, who clash in Dublin on Wednesday night.
SLIGO ROVERS: Jack Burke, Ryan O’Donoghue (Paul Doyle 63), Shane McCallion, Ross Taheny (Capt), Fintan Borotto, Brian Morley (Martin Walsh 116), Chris Flanagan (Mikey Place 74), Callum Frempong (Keelan Kennoy 119), Jason Hunt, Gary Armstrong, Liam Flatley (Cathal Carney 74).
LIMERICK FC: Tommy Holland, Shane Lowth, Paudie O’Connor (Capt), Killian Brouder, Alan Murphy (Evan Cusack 102), Ross Mann, Clyde O’Connell (Declan Cusack 69), Val Feeney, Liam McCartan (Evan O’Connor 86), Seán McSweeney, Yoyo Mahdy (Oisín Kelly 113). Unused Subs: Carl Williams (GK), Ross Fitzgerald, Denis Haverty.