Limerick's Karl O'Sullivan in action against Dundalk goalscorer Michael Duffy in their Premier Division game at the Markets Field on Friday night
LUCKLESS Limerick FC fell to a bitterly disappointing 1-0 defeat to high-flying Dundalk in their SSE Airtricity League Premier Division fixture at the Markets Field on Friday night.
An 81st minute goal from Michael Duffy proved the difference between the sides as Tommy Barrett’s threadbare squad came agonisingly close to taking at least a point off Stephen Kenny’s men.
The defeat leaves second-from-bottom Limerick a whopping 11 points adrift of Sligo Rovers who are currently safe in the table with now just six series of games to go.
Bray Wanderers defeat at home to Shamrock Rovers means Limerick maintain their nine-point advantage over the basement side who now appear to be staring automatic relegation in the face.
Should Limerick finish second-from-bottom, the Blues will be involved in a relegation play-off with a First Division side.
Since winning at Oriel Park under Stuart Taylor in September 2013, Limerick have drawn one and lost 12 of their last 13 meetings with Dundalk.
But while Limerick were on the end of emphatic 8-0, 3-0 and 4-0 defeats to the Oriel Park side already this season, there was no obvious gulf between the sides in their latest meeting.
Limerick, who have also lost five of their last six league games, came within a whisker of taking a 1-0 lead into half-time through Cian Coleman’s effort.
Connor Ellis then had a cracking effort for the home side that flew just over the crossbar at the beginning of the second half.
However, Duffy’s excellent strike from 18 yards which flew low into the bottom corner of the net, handed three precious points to the visitors.
Limerick and Dundalk renew rivalry next Friday night in their FAI Cup quarter-final tie again at the Markets Field, 7.45pm
Limerick lined out minus left-back Billy Dennehy who was suffering with a chest infection all week and was not fit to start. Right-back Shaun Kelly missed out with a badly bruised bone in his foot, while Eoin Wearen (knee) and Kilian Cantwell (groin) also missed out.
Ten of Barrett’s 18-man matchday squad for Friday’s fixture were 21 or under, with seven of those still eligible for Under-19 football.
LIMERICK FC: Tommy Holland, Cian Coleman, Shane Duggan (Capt), Connor Ellis (Danny Morrissey 75), Shane Tracy, Killian Brouder, Will Fitzgerald (Billy Dennehy 79), Karl O’Sullivan, Darren Murphy, Colman Kennedy, Barry Maguire.
DUNDALK: Gary Rogers, Seán Gannon, Brian Gartland, Chris Shields, Michael Duffy, Patrick Hoban, Jamie McGrath (John Mountney 67), Robbie Benson (Patrick McEleney 78), Daniel Cleary, Dylan Connolly (Ronan Murray 46), Dean Jarvis.
REFEREE: Robert Rogers