Monday 23 April 2018

O'Donnell's strike sees off stubborn Limerick


Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

IF SHAMROCK Rovers are to end a 25-year wait and reclaim the FAI Cup this season, the Tallaght faithful won't care how they got it back.

This laboured win over Limerick was just a stop along a road for Stephen Kenny's men who play Cork City in the league next Friday before heading into the mid-season break.

Maybe it was the sunshine, but at times last night, it looked like they were already in holiday mode before Stephen O'Donnell's strike got the job done against a physical Limerick side.

Limerick have grand ambitions of joining Rovers in the upper echelons of the Premier Division sometime soon and, while a cup run would be nice, promotion is their key aim.

Pat Scully won't be too displeased with how his current side played against his old club and was left furious that referee Anthony Buttimer denied his side penalties twice in the second half.

They started well and Rory Gaffney had an effort cleared off the line in the early stages as Limerick showed no fear, but the Hoops quickly grew into the game and Craig Sives headed a McCabe cross just wide, before the winger played a one-two with Gary Twigg and got to the byline, but his cross was just too high for Gary O'Neill who looked certain to score, but fired over the bar.


The 1,250-strong home crowd were growing more and more frustrated and they weren't pleased when the impressive Gaffney shunted Killian Brennan aside and fired a vicious drive goalward, but Oscar Jansson saved well and, when Rovers broke, McCabe had a low shot saved well by former Hoop Barry Ryan.

Having made it in at half-time scoreless, Limerick were furious early in the second half when Brennan handled the ball in the box and, much to the chagrin of Scully, Buttimer ruled the contact accidental.

Kenny sent Daryl Kavanagh and O'Donnell on in quick succession in an attempt to liven it up, but the danger at the other end remained as Gaffney sent in a long throw and Pat Purcell got a firm flick, but there was no one in blue there to take advantage and the ball went dead.

Billy Dennehy had a header wide, but the frustration was growing until the substitutes finally brought some relief to Dublin 24.

Kavanagh, who had looked lively since coming on, fired a shot from the edge of the box and although Ryan managed to keep it out, O'Donnell followed up and bundled the ball home.

Scully sent on ex-Hoop Stephen Bradley and Paudie Quinn, but the latter replacement didn't even get a touch before he was sent off for a high foot on Kerrea Gilbert. Limerick went for it late on and Scully was raging again when Graham Gartland appeared to push Purcell in the back, but Rovers closed it out. Job done, move on.

SHAMROCK ROVERS -- Jansson; Gilbert, Sives, Gartland, Powell; McCabe (McCormack 93), Rice, Brennan (O'Donnell 60), Dennehy; O'Neill (Kavanagh 54), Twigg.

LIMERICK -- Ryan; Kelly, Purcell, Guthrie (Daly 82), S Treacy; C Treacy, O'Leary, Coughlan (Bradley 69), McGann, McGrath (Quinn 75); Gaffney.

REF -- A Buttimer (Cork).

• FAI High Performance director Wim Koevermans is expected to resign next week to take over as manager of India's national team.

The FAI are planning to appoint a replacement -- more than likely from within the association -- with U-21 boss Noel King being tipped to combine the role with his current responsibilities.

Irish Independent

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