It was honours even at the Markets Field on Friday night as Limerick and Longford Town shared a scoreless draw that at times lacked the quality we would expect at this level. Limerick seemed happy to begin 2019 with a point, while Neale Fenn’s side, still a work in progress, failed to impose their usual style on proceedings.
The first half appeared more like a friendly than the opening night of the First Division season. There was little work for Jack Brady in the Limerick goal, while his opposite number, Lee Steacy, had even less to deal with.
Adam Evans went close for Longford on the quarter hour, drawing a routine tip-over from Brady from all of 30 yards. Brady caught a number of crosses well, with Limerick defenders Robbie Williams and Tomás O’Connor comfortable against Aaron Dobbs.
Limericks 4-2-3-1 shape was rarely effective, with Sean McSweeney and Connor Ellis both suffocated by the Town defence.
The second half was marginally better with both sides going close to a winner. Limerick’s Karl O’Sullivan volleyed into the side netting moments after the restart; the youngster had gone close in the opening half with a looping header.
Longford debutant, Dobbs, who enjoyed a fruitful spell with Wexford last season, had his head in his hands after 55 minutes, failing to connect with a header when he looked certain to open his Town account.
Limerick substitute Kieran Hanlon, signed from junior football, almost made an immediate impact from the bench. He contested well in the air against Conor Kenna and sent in a first time volley which Steacy was able to gather at the second attempt. Hanlon has recently returned from a one-year suspension but looked like he can offer something for the Blues in 2019.
Substitute Peter Hopkins carved Limerick open late on and Dean Byrne found Paul O’Conor who couldn’t squeeze the ball home against his former employers, Brady pulling off a fine save for the hosts.
Hanlon went close again in the dying moments but, like Hopkins at the other end, he was unable to get significant power or direction in his effort.
The draw was fair, with Robbie Williams marshalling a normally fragile Limerick defence expertly, while Longford can be pleased with the work of Anto Breslin.
Limerick: Jack Brady; Shaun Kelly ©, Tomás O’Connor, Robbie Williams, Shane Tracy; Jason Hughes, Sean Russell (Colm Walsh O’Loughlen 84), Darren Murphy (Aaron Fitzgerald 89), Karl O’Sullivan, Sean McSweeney (Kieran Hanlon 61), Connor Ellis.
Subs not Used: Tommy Holland (gk), Ger Barry, Adam Foley, Lee Devitt.
Booked: Hughes (72).
Longford Town: Lee Steacy (gk); Karl Chambers, Conor Kenna, Mick McDonnell, Anto Breslin; Shane Elworthy (Dean Byrne 77), Dean Zambra, Paul O’Conor, Adam Evans (Peter Hopkins 66), Aodh Dervin; Aaron Dobbs (Jamie Doyle 83).
Subs not Used: Jack Menton (gk), Tristian Hoffman, Joe Manley, Sean Brennan.
Booked: Chambers (71).
Referee: Jason Mannix
Attendance: 814 (official)
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Robbie Williams (Limerick).