Rory Gaffney’s strike just inside the half hour mark sunk a resilient Shelbourne side at Thomond Park on Wednesday evening.
A terrific corner on the left hand side from Carel Tiofack found the in-form Rory Gaffney at the near post to slot home just before the half hour mark.
In a game that started off at a lacklustre pace, the tempo really livened up as the half progressed – Barry Sheedy had the first chance of the game as Shaun Kelly’s one-two with Stephen Bradley resulted in a terrific ball across the face – the youngster just couldn’t stretch far enough.
Dylan Connolly also came close minutes later. The midfielder broke the offside trap and cut in from an angle. His half volley wasn’t enough to beat veteran Ryan though – he parried away.
The opener arrived 27 minutes into the game as Gaffney connected with Tiofack’s corner – smashing it into the net from close range.
Two glorious chances fell to the Reds just moments before the break. First, Dean Kelly slipped in between Kelly and O’Callaghan before taking aim across Ryan. However, Ryan was once again the hero for the home side as he pushed the ball wide of goal.
Graham Gartland spurned another chance before the half – a corner from the right was met at the back post and headed across goal to the towering centre half but he couldn’t swing his effort on target.
The visitors had the best chance in the early stages of the second half. Derek Doyle superbly crossed into the danger area for Dean Kelly, but the striker struck wide from eight yards.
Adam Hanlon was next to waste a chance for Shels – just passed the hour mark. He broke free on the right wing before cutting in and smashing at Ryan from a narrow angle. The Ennis native managed to push it over the bar.
Dean Kelly had the best chance of the game just ten minutes from the end. The former Shamrock Rovers man found himself in acres of space, just six yards from goal with all the time in the world – he somehow blasted the ball over Ryan’s crossbar.
The Reds couldn’t find a goal in the late stages and their Premier Division survival is now out of their hands.
Limerick: Barry Ryan; Shaun Kelly, Brian O’Callaghan (c) (Robbie Williams 56), Tony Whitehead, Colm Murphy (James McGrath 76), Patrick Nzuzi, Stephen Bradley, Jason Hughes, Carel Tiofack, Barry Sheedy (Kieran Hanlon 69), Rory Gaffney.
Subs not used: Shane Cusack (GK), Val Feeney, Jeffrey Judge, Nathan Kelly.
Booked: Murphy (38).
Shelbourne: Lee Murphy; Pat Flynn, Graham Gartland (Ian Ryan 51), Rob Cornwall, Paul Andrews; Adam Hanlon, Stephen Hurley, Stephen Sheerin (Brian Gannon 57), Dylan Connolly, Derek Doyle (Lee Murtagh 69); Dean Kelly (c).
Subs not used: Niall Burdon (GK), Carl Walshe, Adam O’Connor, Paul Crowley.
Referee: Alan Kelly (Cork).
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Derek Doyle (Shelbourne).