Andrew Dempsey reports from Stradbrook
Cabinteely's unbeaten five game run was ended by a streetwise Limerick side at Stradbrook on Saturday evening who used their experience to their advantage.
Connor Ellis scored Limerick’s winner after a mistake at the back by Cabo ‘keeper Stephen McGuinness. Conor Keeley had equalised for the home side early on after Sean Russell gave the Superblues the lead.
Coming into the match Limerick were unbeaten over Cabinteely in all of their recent showings in the League of Ireland and respective cup competitions.
The last time the sides met was in the FAI Cup Second Round last year with Tommy Barrett’s side coming out on top in a 2-1 success despite Pat Devlin’s side dominating much of the play and chances.
Since their opening defeat of the season against Bray Wanderers, Cabinteely have gone unbeaten in all of their five games since their defeat in the East Coast Derby and had a chance to go top of the table if they could get the win over Limerick.
Victories over Shelbourne and Drogheda United had set things up nicely for Devlin’s young charges who were tipped by many to struggle before the start of play this season.
Limerick on the other hand seem to have added much-needed goals to their arsenal having gone scoreless in their opening three games of the season before last weekend’s 3-1 defeat of Cobh Ramblers in the Munster Derby at Markets Field.
They started well in this game as Limerick took the early lead after a rather mundane opening to proceedings on the bobbly Stradbrook surface.
Karl O’Sullivan went on a mazy run with a delicate touch sending him through. O’Sullivan then laid the ball off to Sean Russell who smashed home from close range with an expert strike past the trailing arm of McGuinness.
Limerick remained on top in the game until just after the half-hour mark when Conor Keeley headed the equaliser home for Cabo from close range after an exquisite ball in from the previously ineffectual Keith Dalton.
Keeley’s header looked to have been going straight down Jack Brady’s throat before it veered to Brady’s left and into the back of the net to the delight of a paltry enough home support as the sides went in level at the break.
With neither side especially threatening in the opening period, a draw at the break was probably fair.
Cabinteely created the first real opening of the second period, but the red-hot Rob Manley just saw his effort go wide of Brady’s goal much to Tommy Barrett’s relief after the former UCD striker burst through thanks to Jack Watson.
However, there was to be an even closer shave for Limerick after Robbie Williams clumsily took Dalton down inside the penalty area.
Manley stepped up to take the spot-kick, but his poor effort was easily smothered by the alert Brady who saved his second consecutive penalty at Stradbrook, with his last coming in a 2-0 win for Longford Town in September 2017.
Manley could have made amends for spot-kick miss soon after but a Marty Waters through ball took an almighty bobble which saw the in-form striker shin his effort wide of the Limerick goal.
Despite their dominance, Cabinteely were punished by some slack defending as McGuinness, caught off his line, lost possession which saw Connor Ellis slot home from outside the box.
Pat Devlin will have been left furious by the concession of that goal in a game they definitely had the winning of.
Cabinteely huffed and puffed for a late equaliser but sub Nika Kalandarishvili, Jack Tuite and Rob Manley couldn’t find a last gasp equaliser at Stradbrook.
Next up for Cabinteely is a home clash against Galway United where President Michael D. Higgins will be an interested spectator while Limerick must now prepare themselves for a home clash against Terry Butler’s Athlone Town.
Cabinteely: Stephen McGuinness; Adam Maher (Luke Clucas, 78), Conor Keeley, Jack Hudson, Jack Tuite; Keith Dalton, Vilius Labutis (Nika Kalandarishvili, 78), Jack Watson, Alex Aspil (Zak O’Neill, 82); Kieran Marty Waters, Rob Manley.
Subs not used: Peter Quinlan, Oisin McMenamin, Sean Fitzpatrick, Eoin Massey.
Booked: Adam Maher (75).
Limerick: Jack Brady; Shaun Kelly, Sean Russell (Colm Walsh O’Loughlin, 88), Killian Brouder, Robbie Williams, Shane Tracy; Sean McSweeney, Darren Murphy, Karl O’Sullivan, Jason Hughes; Connor Ellis.
Subs not used: Tommy Holland, Lee Devitt, Tomas O’Connor, Andy Quaid, Ger Barry, Adam Foley.
Booked: Robbie Williams (53), Sean Russell (67).
Referee: Sean Grant.
Attendance: 250 (Estimate).
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Robbie Williams (Limerick).