Limerick and ten-man Shelbourne played out a scoreless draw on Shannonside after an early red card for Robert Bayly limited both Shelbourne's attacking opportunities and Limerick's penetration of the Shelbourne defence.
Before either side could really settle into a rhythm of play the definitive moment of the game arrived. In what seemed a fair fifty-fifty in the air with Robbie Williams, Bayly was adjudged to have kicked out at Williams and was given his marching orders. The decision from referee Neil Doyle bemused almost everyone in the ground.
Shelbourne were forced into a 4-4-1 formation and Limerick countered that with fluidity in abundance. Limerick pushed on after Bayly's dismissal and Danny Galbraith's floated cross was met by Ger Hanley's fist, but his punch only fell to David O'Leary whose volley went over the bar.
Galbraith was the main threat all night for Limerick and his pace down the right almost proved decisive once more. Skipping past defenders, the Scottish winger teased the Shels back four with a brilliant ball in behind the defensive line, and Ian Ryan met it with a headed a clearance that almost found its way into the back of his own net.
The guilt-edge chance of the game arrived just before the half-time whistle as Ian Ryan slipped when in possession. This allowed Rory Gaffney to get his shot in – a shot saved by Hanley. The rebound then fell to Shane Tracy just twelve yards from an open goal but he managed to hit the crossbar. Neil Doyle blew for half time seconds later.
Less than ten minutes into the second half, Limerick should have taken the lead, this time through Rory Gaffney. Danny Galbraith swung in an excellent cross towards Gaffney and, using all his neck muscles, Gaffney turned the ball goalwards. Ger Hanley scampereed to his far post and managed to claw away his goalbound effort.
Gaffney was again the guilty party just ten minutes later as Shane Tracy was afforded too much space on the left. His cross to the near post was glanced on by Craig Curran towards the static Rory Gaffney, but his outstretched leg couldn't prod home from five yards.
A second controversial decision came with fifteen minutes to go as Danny Galbraith skipped past Jack Memery. Sean Brennan had tracked back and then hauled Galbraith to the ground. The crowd, expecting a penalty, were baffled when Galbraith was then booked for simulation.
Shels put in a really spirited performance on the night and although they didn't deserve to win the game, they almost did with just ten minutes to go in the second half. Sean Brennan turned inside the eighteen yard box and smashed an effort towards Brian Shorthall but the defender couldn't direct his toe-poke towards goal.
Shels managed the clock rather well and did enough in the end to see out the remaining time. A good point for Shels, but overall, a game ruined by two incorrect decisions.
Limerick FC: Barry Ryan; Shaun Kelly, Brian O'Callaghan, Stephen Folan, Robbie Williams; Shane Tracy, Joe Gamble; Danny Galbraith, David O'Leary (Jeffrey Judge 91), Craig Curran; Rory Gaffney (Aaron Brown 82).
Subs not Used: Shane Cusack, Val Feeney, Shane Costelloe, Patrick Nzuzi, Darragh Rainsford.
Bookings: Williams, Gamble, Galbraith.
Shelbourne: Ger Hanley; Pat Flynn, Brian Shorthall, Ian Ryan, Jack Memery; Adam Hanlon, Robert Bayly, Stephen Hurley, Paul Crowley, Craig Mooney (Sean Brennan 71); Dean Kelly (Mark Leech 63).
Subs not Used: Niall Burdon, Rob Cornwall, Darren Tinnelly, Alex Prizeman, Adam O'Connor.
Referee: Neil Doyle.
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Danny Galbraith (Limerick FC).