Wednesday 15 August 2018

Conan the destroyer finally breaks resistance of brave Limerick

St Pat's Ath 2 Limerick 1

St Patrick's Athletic's Conan Byrne celebrates. Photo: Sportsfile
St Patrick's Athletic's Conan Byrne celebrates. Photo: Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

Limerick's players may not have been paid of late but they have certainly not been reluctant to pay their dues.

Their players shrugged off all worries in Inchicore, as if liberated by the distraction of actually playing football, which they did quite well for an hour.

St Patrick's Athletic's Darragh Markey and Limerick's Killian Brouder rise for the ball. Photo: Sportsfile
St Patrick's Athletic's Darragh Markey and Limerick's Killian Brouder rise for the ball. Photo: Sportsfile

They led for 77 minutes before half-time substitute Conan Byrne scored twice within four minutes to prevent his side slipping to a record eighth successive league defeat.

Byrne won and slotted home a penalty to bring the Saints level and the veteran winger struck again three minutes later, powering home a header from a Simon Madden cross.

St Pat's had a real let-off when Killian Cantwell hit the bar in the final minute.

And so Limerick left down-hearted but not despondent if this spirited showing is any indication.

Limerick manager Tommy Barrett. Photo: Sportsfile
Limerick manager Tommy Barrett. Photo: Sportsfile

They had deserved their lead, which came on 16 minutes when former Saint Billy Dennehy sent Brendan Clarke the wrong way from the penalty spot after Killian Brennan was penalised for tripping Barry Murphy as he tried to block the Limerick midfielder's shot from Darren Murphy's low corner.

The decision by the Dublin City Council to reject the club's proposals for the development of the St Michael's Estate space across the road had cast a pall. The club, unsurprisingly, will strenuously appeal.

In doing so, they have indicated they will increase the number of units beyond 500 and, answering a prime argument of the council, their proposal will not result in any delay in providing the housing.

Viewed through a narrower prism, the home supporters would also be now worried that the potential failure of their plans might lead to their chief financial engine - Garrett Kelleher - to finally ecide that even his undying loyalty may not be worth the endless expense any more.

St Patrick's Athletic's Ryan Brennan is challenged by Limerick's Billy Dennehy. Photo: Sportsfile
St Patrick's Athletic's Ryan Brennan is challenged by Limerick's Billy Dennehy. Photo: Sportsfile

Remaining in their spiritual home of Richmond Park could, at some time in the future, prove too much of a burden for even him to carry.

Limerick have already returned to their spiritual dwelling in the Markets Field but the fervour and goodwill, marked occasionally by crowds nearing 5,000 during their promotion run, has dimmed significantly.

Now the crowds barely breach 500, their players have joined Bray in issuing strike notice after the non-payment of wages and, even if they avoid relegation this season, they are resigned to a part-time future in order to avoid full-time extinction.

Their next deadline is August 3 - for Bray it is next Wednesday - and players at both clubs remain on stand-by to carry out a potentially devastating walk-out.

St Patrick's Athletic manager Liam Buckley. Photo: Sportsfile
St Patrick's Athletic manager Liam Buckley. Photo: Sportsfile

Speaking before the game to eir Sport, Fran Gavin insisted the FAI had not bailed out Bray Wanderers during the week when their previously unpaid wages were finally paid and he also criticised the PFAI's involvement in the ongoing crisis.

"The leadership of the PFAI and their behaviour left a lot to be desired," said the FAI's director of competitions. "It did not help the situation in trying to come to a resolution. I'm personally disappointed with how they reacted.

"We're there to solve the problem and that's what needs to be done, not create a media circus."

Limerick have also complained about what they see as some heavy-handedness from the PFAI and, to their credit, none of their officials have gone to ground even though their locality's goodwill and cash-flow has.

Only a thousand punters paid in last night; three days earlier, 5,000 did so to watch Newcastle breeze through a pre-season friendly.

ST PAT'S ATH - Clarke; Madden, Leahy, Desmond, Bermingham capt; R Brennan, Clifford (J Lennon h-t), K Brennan (Byrne HT), Clarke; Markey; Keegan (Byrne 75).

LIMERICK - Holland; Cantwell, Wearen, Brouder, B Dennehy; O'Sullivan, Murphy, Duggan capt (Morrissey 82), Fitzgerald; Maguire, Ellis.

REF - Sean Grant.

Irish Independent

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