Runaway league champions Limerick FC rounded off their impressive season with a hard fought victory over second from bottom side Cabinteely in Dublin on Saturday night.
The Super Blues travelled to Dublin without the suspended trio of Chris Mulhall, Aaron Greene and club captain Shane Duggan but a second half goal from substitute Sean Russell gave the visitors all three points in South Dublin.
Cabinteely started the game brightly and were unlucky not to open the scoring within the first twenty minutes.
In the 19th minute, the home side nearly capitalised on some poor defending by Limerick, but a powerful drive from Evan Galvin was pushed away well by Freddy Hall.
Chances in front of goal were few and far between in the opening half, but again it was Cabinteely that came close when Joseph Doyle struck wide a rebound after another save from Hall with 29 minutes gone.
Limerick had their first notable opportunity of the first half when Shane Tracy struck a long range effort that the goalkeeper almost spilled into the net but he recovered well to gather on the line.
The Super Blues upped the tempo in the second half and the introduction of substitute Sean Russell was a turning point for the visitors.
Five minutes after coming on the young midfielder found himself with plenty of space inside the opposition’s box and he headed home in style to the delight of the travelling support.
The 75th minute saw the introduction of 18-year-old Clyde O’Connell who made his senior competitive debut for his hometown club.
Martin Russell’s side held out to take all three points in Stradbrook and speaking after the game the Limerick manager was satisfied with the result and with his player’s performance.
“It’s been hard, particularly when we had the league and more so when the record went (unbeaten run), to keep the motivation going but I felt it was important to try and win this game.” said Martin Russell.
“I was disappointed with the first half performance. It was a little bit better in the second half. We gave a couple of run outs to some of the under-19 squad so there were positives to take from the game” added Russell.
Limerick native Lee J Lynch also spoke about the importance of finishing off with a victory.
“We’ve known for a long time that we are going back to the Premier Division but it’s nice to finish off with a win in the First Division.” said Super Blues midfielder Lee J Lynch.
“We’ve done ourselves justice after getting relegated last season by the way we’ve played this season and it’s great to finish off with a win.” added Lynch.
Saturday’s game against Cabinteely rounded off a very impressive league campaign for Martin Russell’s side, with the Blues scoring 86 goals in the SSE Airtricity League First Division alone, averaging 3.1 across their 28 outings, finishing 23 points ahead of 2nd placed Drogheda United.
Cabinteely: Michael Kelly, Adam Maher, Andrew McGovern, Oscar Brennan, Christian Lotefa, Aaron, Brilly, Evan Galvin, Shane Boyle (Oliver Hamzat 80), Ben Hanrahan, Joseph Doyle, Asibola Sule (Paul Fox 69).
Yellow cards: Adam Maher (53)
Limerick: Freddy Hall, Shaun Kelly, Robbie Williams, Tony Whitehead, Shane Tracy (Colm Murphy 69), Stephen Kenny, Paul O’ Conor (Clyde O’Connell 75), Lee J Lynch, Sean McSweeney (Sean Russell 60), Ross Mann, Garbhan Coughlan.
Yellow cards: Shaun Kelly (50)
Referee: Michael O’ Connor.
In today’s FAI Junior Cup, twelve games took place involving LDMC Limerick teams with notable victories for Premier League sides Janesboro, Pike Rovers, Ballynanty Rovers, Regional United, Carew Park, Fairview Rangers and Moyross United.
In the only fixture today involving Limerick Desmond League sides, Ballingarry AFC beat Shannon Olympic FC to advance to the 4th round of the FAI Junior Cup.