IN-FORM striker John O’Flynn bagged a hat-trick as Limerick FC booked their place in the last 16 of the FAI Cup thanks to a 5-2 win over Bluebell Utd at the Markets Field on Saturday afternoon.
O’Flynn brought his tally of goals for the season to 16 with his three-goal haul, which included two penalties.
Chris Mulhall put the Blues on the road to victory when he opened the scoring in 14 minutes, while Paul O’Conor netted in stoppage time before an official attendance of 545.
Manager Martin Russell will be disappointed with the manner in which his charges conceded two goals in seven minutes in the final quarter to this last 32 tie.
Limerick FC will hope this win is a good omen, however, as the Blues also defeated the Leinster Senior League side in their opening fixture on route to their last FAI Cup win in 1982.
Runaway First Division leaders Limerick stamped their authority on this game from the opening whistle.
Dominant Limerick FC deservedly took the lead on 14 minutes when Chris Mulhall turned sharply inside the box before flashing a delightful shot to the net. It was no more than the home side deserved.
Limerick FC should have made it 2-0 in the 24th minute, but Shane Tracy’s penalty kick was brilliantly saved by Bluebell ‘keeper Andy McNulty.
Limerick FC continued to pepper the Leinster Senior League side’s goal as the half wore on and the Blues finally got their reward on 40 minutes when awarded a second penalty.
The rampaging Shaun Kelly was felled inside the penalty area after a slick move down the right and referee Kevin O’Regan had no hesitation in awarding his second spot kick of the day.
The in-form John O’Flynn made no mistake with a composed finish.
The Blues continued to lead 2-0 at half-time as Bluebell struggled to produce an attack worthy of the name.
The home side made it 3-0 after 52 minutes when O’Flynn headed home from Stephen Kenny’s cross. And O’Flynn completed his hat-trick three minutes later, netting his second penalty of the game, after Shaun Kelly was barged over inside the penalty area.
Bluebell scored two consolation goals in the 77th minute and 84th minutes through substitute Sean Byrne and Toyeeb Mustapha with a close-range finish.
However, Limerick had the final say when Paul O’Conor finished off a flow move to score in stoppage time.
LIMERICK FC: Tommy Holland, Shaun Kelly (Tony Whitehead 58), Paudie O’Connor, Robbie Williams (Capt), Shane Tracy, Paul O’Conor, Lee J Lynch, Chris Mulhall, Stephen Kenny, Sean Russell (Colm Murphy 69), John O’Flynn (Jordan Moore 55).
BLUEBELL UTD: Andy McNulty, Sean Gleeson, Karl Russell, Dean Laurence, Gilmar Mandiangu, Keith Quinn, Peter Darcy (Barry Slattery 58), Robert Bayly, Graham Zambra, Tony Griffith (Capt), Glenn Keddy.
REFEREE: Kevin O’Regan