A 'late late show' defeats Limerick
AFTER their Europa League exploits, it was back to chasing a European return next year for Sligo Rovers at the Showgrounds on Sunday.
Late goals from Seanie Maguire and Danny North kept their slim hopes alive.
The victory moved Rovers to within eleven points of fourth placed Shamrock Rovers on the table.
While it was a deserved three points in the end, Rovers had to battle hard to earn them.
It was not until the 84th minute that Maguire stabbed home the first and North added the second three minutes into additional time.
Relief was the main emotion after North's second.
Following their 4-3 aggregate defeat to Rosenborg of Norway in the Europa League Second Round tie, manager John Coleman made five changes to his starting line-up.
Maguire, Danny Ledwith and Gavin Peers came in, as did Ruairi Keating and Regan Donelon for his first start.
Maguire operated wide right with Donelon on the other side and David Cawley and Seamus Conneely in midfield.
Peers partnered Kalen Spillane at the heart of defence, with Alan Keane and Ledwith in the full-back berths.
North and Keating operated up front against a Limerick side managed for the first time by Martin Russell.
Rovers started well and enjoyed good possession in the early stages.
Keating had a chance to open the scoring in the 2nd minute, but shot over.
Donelon's weak shot was then comfortably held by Limerick 'keeper Shane Cusack.
Six minutes in, Maguire and Keating combined to release Conneely on the right, but after a good run on the overlap, he too shot over the crossbar.
Rovers continued to look dangerous going forward, but an end product was needed. Two minutes later, Maguire was again involved, this time finding Keating on the right.
His curling shot seemed destined for the net, but struck the crossbar with Cusack beaten.
Limerick weathered the early storm and when David Cawley tried to square the ball in the middle in the 11th minute, he was robbed by McManus, who found striker Rory Gaffney,
While Gaffney put the ball in the net he was offside.
Rovers' 'keeper Gary Rogers was relatively untroubled but in the 17th minute he had to rush from his line to thwart the inrushing Colm Murphy from Gaffney's through ball.
Danny Ledwith shot wide five minutes later as Rovers continued the search for the lead goal.
Frustration grew as the first-half wore on and Rogers held a shot from distance from Robbie Williams in the 24th minute.
Danny North's shot was deflected behind for a corner a minute later before Gaffney volleyed wide at the back post.
On 37 minutes, Limerick earned a free on the right and from Shane Duggan's delivery the ball came off Ledwith's head and went behind for a corner, when it could have gone anywhere.
Two minutes from half-time, Cusack pushed a Maguire effort around a post and from the resultant corner from David Cawley, Peers chested the ball down, but shot over when he should have scored.
There was further frustration for Rovers after the interval.
Limerick defended stubbornly and John Coleman eventually changed his side beyond the hour mark.
He introduced Paul O'Connor and Evan McMillan, who went up front and made an immediate impact.
McMillan headed on in the 64th minute for Maguire to round 'keeper Cusack, but watch as Patrick Nzuzi got back to block the ball before it could cross the line.
Maguire then saw his fine curling attempt sail beyond a post in the 70th minute.
Two minutes later, Rovers had the ball in the net but North was flagged offside after Cusack had saved from Maguire.
North then chased a long ball to escape the Limerick defence, but his shot was saved by the outstretched legs of Cusack.
The crowd of 1, 627 eventually had something to cheer in the 84th minute when McMillan headed David Cawley's corner towards goal and Maguire tapped in from close range.
Limerick pressed for an equaliser with two players up front and Rovers came under a bit of pressure before they broke away in the 93rd minute, Maguire releasing North from his own half and North sliding the ball home.
Sligo Rovers: Rogers, Keane, Peers, Spillane, Ledwith, Maguire, Cawley, Conneely, Donelon, Keating, North. Subs: O'Connor and McMillan for Donelon and Keating (62 mins).
Limerick FC: Cusack, Williams, Folan, Turner, Duggan, Gaffney, Nzuzi, Leahy, Agyemang, McManus, Murphy. Subs: Hughes for Murphy (ht), Mann for McManus (61 mins), Oji for Turner (79 mins).
Referee: Paul Tuite (Dublin).