Graham Burke keeps his cool to send Shamrock Rovers up to second
Shamrock Rovers 1 Limerick FC 0
Shamrock Rovers moved up to second place in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division after seeing off Limerick at a chilly Markets Field yesterday evening
The visitors dominated possession for large spells of the game and eventually found the net with 15 minutes remaining when Graham Burke dispatched a neatly-taken penalty beyond Brendan Clarke.
There was a boisterous pace to the match in the opening exchanges, with Limerick taking the game to the Hoops early on, Tommy Barrett's men buoyed by their impressive result against Cork City last Friday.
Teenage winger Will Fitzgerald has been a stand-out player for the Blues in the opening weeks of the season and he almost punished Rovers on nine minutes when, from Clarke's long punt, he got to the ball ahead of the onrushing Tomer Chencinski and bore down on goal, but Roberto Lopes got back to cut out the danger.
Rovers' first opportunity of note came in the 17th minute when Chris Kavanagh's low cross was well cut out by Killian Brouder, with Gary Shaw lurking in the six-yard box had the Limerick defender not been so alert.
The remainder of the first half was played mostly in Limerick's half of the field, but the Blues coped with anything was thrown at them and largely restricted Rovers to ambitious long-range efforts, including a couple of Burke free-kicks which flew high and wide of the target.
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Despite being bossed for large spells, Limerick threatened on occasion and Killian Cantwell came close with a 30-yard effort early in the second half. Billy Dennehy caused a scare for the Rovers defence when his low free-kick from the left beat everyone and sailed just wide.
It was a frustrating evening for Shaw and he was withdrawn for Dan Carr, who almost made an instant impact when he flicked a header just wide with his first touch just after coming on.
Rovers were finding it tough to penetrate the home defence but were given the perfect opportunity to score on 74 minutes when Shaun Kelly hacked down Ronan Finn in the penalty area, with Graham Kelly wasting little time in pointing to the spot.
Burke kept his cool to thump the spot-kick past Clarke and put the Hoops in front.
Limerick were handed a lifeline in the 83rd minute when Sean Kavanagh was sent off for rashly kicking out at Dennehy and the home side laid siege to Rovers' goal in the final few minutes, but were unable to make the breakthrough.
At the other end, Carr should have made it 2-0 in stoppage time, only to fire wide with an open goal on a Rovers counter-attack.
Having lost their two previous away games, Stephen Bradley will no doubt be relieved to see his team take advantage of Dundalk and Waterford not being in action to move up to second, while Limerick stay sixth after their first home defeat of the season.
LIMERICK FC - Clarke; Kelly (McGowan 79), Whitehead (Foley 89), Brouder, B Dennehy; Coleman, Cantwell; Fitzgerald, Duggan, Cameron (K O'Sullivan 63); Ellis.
SHAMROCK RoverS - Chencinski; Boyle, Grace, Lopes, Clarke; Bone, Finn; Coustrain (Miele 73), Burke (Byrne 86), Kavanagh; Shaw (Carr 64).
REF - G Kelly (Cork)