In what was an enthralling game throughout, Limerick and Longford Town played out a 2-2 draw at Jackman Park on Saturday evening. Goals from Sean Russell had Limerick in the driving seat on two occasions, but the reliable David O’Sullivan twice pounced on Limerick mistakes to earn his side a draw.
With only 481 in attendance, the pre-game talk was about the 30 Limerick fans that had been banned from the ground. The group unfurled a banner saying “The fans are the Club” on the Carey’s Road before kick-off.
The contest itself started in cagey fashion. A difficult surface meant that the game wasn’t played at a fast pace early on. Kevin O’Connor had the first opening for the visitors but he fired well wide after racing beyond Aidan Price.
Paul O’Conor, who was the nearly man all night, went close with a header after a fine Robbie Williams ball. Darragh Rainsford headed straight at the ‘keeper soon after as Limerick started well for the first time this season.
The break-through came on 21 minutes when a poor Ian Turner cross broke to Sean Russell. The midfielder fired home from just inside the penalty area to give himself a goal on his league debut and Limerick the lead.
But unfortunately for Blues fans that lead was short lived. David O’Sullivan got to the end-line and pulled the ball back to Kevin O’Connor. The Longford winger saw his goal bound shot headed skywards by Paudie O’Connor, but Conor O’Donnell’s poor attempt at a punch allowed O’Sullivan to tap in for his first Premier Division goal.
Limerick’s Robbie Williams then went into the book as the impressive Don Cowan attempted to race clear. Cowan gave Williams a tough game until the winger was replaced.
But as the game appeared to be inching towards a draw at half-time, Limerick struck again. Ian Turner accelerated past Conor Powell and crossed for Russell who fired into the corner, providing a huge lift for the home team.
Vinny Faherty was introduced at half-time as Limerick changed to a 4-4-2 formation. This allowed Longford a little more time on the ball in midfield but the tireless Dean Clarke now had greater support. But it was Longford who put on more pressure. Cowan’s influence became more obvious as he fired a shot wide and it was he who would set up the equaliser.
Williams was guilty of getting too tight on Cowan who knocked the ball over his head and had plenty of time to whip the ball onto the head of O’Sullivan. Soonafter Paudie O’Connor and Aidan Price had to be at their best to bat off the Longford attacks, although the long-ball deployed far too often by Longford played into the hands of O’Connor who was the Extratime.ie Man of the Match.
Gary Shaw did break free from Price and O’Connor, though O’Donnell was out quick to save with his feet. Chances from an Ian Turner free-kick and a Paul O’Conor strike almost gave Limerick the lead but that was as close as they were to come. Both sides seemed somewhat satisfied with a point late on, and both are still in search of a precious three points.
Limerick FC: Conor O’Donnell; Séan Harding, Paudie O’Connor, Aidan Price, Robbie Williams; Ian Turner, Paul O’Conor, Jason Hughes, Sean Russell; Darragh Rainsford (Vinny Faherty HT); Dean Clarke.
Subs not Used: Tommy Holland (gk), Tony Whitehead, Shane Costelloe, Val Feeney, Ross Mann, Kieran Hanlon.
Booked: Williams (33).
Longford Town: Paul Hunt; Jamie Mulhall, Pat Sullivan, Pat Flynn, Conor Powell; Don Cowan (Lorcan Shannon 75), Mark Salmon, Stephen Rice, Kevin O’Connor; David O’Sullivan, Gary Shaw.
Subs not Used: Paul Skinner (gk), Mark Rossiter, Rhys Gorman, Martin Deady, Tom Morris, Kaleem Simon.
Referee: James McKell
Extratime.ie Man Of The Match: Paudie O’Connor (Limerick) – Won countless headers and thwarted Shaw and O’Sullivan on a few occasions.