Limerick striker Rodrigo Tosi in action against Galway United on Friday night
LIMERICK FC shipped a hugely frustrating 3-1 defeat to relegation threatened Galway United in their SSE Airtricity League Premier Division tie at Eamonn Deacy Park on Friday night.
Failure to convert even one of a number of to three good scoring opportunities in the opening half came back to haunt sixth-placed Limerick as two goals in as many first half minutes set Galway United on their way to just their third win of the top flight season.
A stunning goal from Ronan Murray on 35 minutes and a second from Padraic Cunningham two minutes later, after slack defending in the visitors defence, rocked Limerick who came into the game 11 points and six places above the home side in the table.
Limerick have now managed just one clean sheet in their last 13 Premier Division fixtures this season.
Substitute Eoin McCormack added a third goal for Galway, his first in League of Ireland football, with a little less than 10 minutes remaining. Substitute Garbhan Coughlan pulled a goal back for the Blues with a smashing finish. But Limerick couldn’t manage a second, despite six minutes of added time.
The defeat is a blow to Limerick’s hopes of securing European club football next season, with Neil McDonald’s side also missing out on a great chance to pull even further clear of the drop zone.
Young Northern Ireland U-21 defender, Joe Crowe, who joined Limerick FC on loan from Norwich City earlier in the week, slotted straight into the side at right back with Shaun Kelly ruled out through injury.
Crowe’s inclusion was the only change Limerick boss McDonald made from the 2-0 away win over Drogheda Utd last time out.
After a quite opening to the game at a sun-drenched venue, debutant Crowe created the first scoring chance of the game in the ninth minute. However, Crowe’s inch perfect cross from the right was flashed over the crossbar by Limerick striker Tosi with the goal gaping.
Limerick continued to hold the upperhand quickly creating another chance as Ogbene broke past Horgan, but his cross for Tosi fell behind the Brazilian with goalkeeper Winn stranded.
However, the game was never comfortable for Limerick as Galway, fighting for their top flight survival, remained a threat.
And Limerick were made pay for their inability to hit the front when Galway scored a stunning opening goal on 35 minutes when Ronan Murray took the ball down on his chest, turned in a flash and fired an unstoppable shot past Brendan Clarke high into the net from 30 yards out.
It was a genuine contender for goal of the season.
And it was 2-0 to Galway United in the 37th minute when Padraic Cunningham powered into the box before smashing the ball past Clarke.
Limerick players and large band of travelling support was left shellshocked.
The visitors did create one more half chance before the half-time break as Crowe played the ball into Clarke in the box, but his first-time shot was saved by the Galway goalkeeper in the 41st minute.
Limerick FC came agonisingly close to reducing their two-goal half-time deficit in the 58th minute, but Galway defender Colm Horgan hacked the ball off the line following a Blues corner kick.
Galway wrapped up the three points with Eoin McCormack bagged his first goal at this level although Limerick substitute Garbhan Coughlan score a terrific late goal for the visitors.
GALWAY UNITED: Conor Winn, Colm Horgan (Capt), Marc Ludden, Lee Grace, Alex Byrne, Gavan Holohan (Conor Melody 86), David Cawley, Padraic Cunningham (Eoin McCormack 76), Kevin Devaney, Ronan Murray (Gary Shanahan 88), Stephen Folan.
LIMERICK FC: Brendan Clarke, Robbie Williams, David O’Connor, Lee J Lynch (Stephen Kenny 83), Shane Duggan (Capt), Rodrigo Tosi (John O’Flynn 60), Tony Whitehead, Dean Clarke (Garbhan Coughlan 60), Chiedozie Ogbene, Joe Crowe, Bastien Hery.
REFEREE: Neil Doyle (Dublin)