Limerick crashed to their third defeat in nine games, their second at home, as Pat Scully comes under increasing pressure to get things going.
A sheer lack of sufficient motivation and impetus was on display from the Limerick team on Friday night. With the exception perhaps of Gamble and Bradley in the middle of the park, none of the Limerick team looked up to scratch. Behan looked slow and passed poorly. Gaffney ran and ran but his crosses were sub-standard. O’Brian, in the second half, was the same. The defence was nervous looking and leaky.
The goal for Waterford was a travesty, and should have been easily dealt with half a dozen times in the preceding play. Though down to near rivals at half time, Limerick did not emerge for the second full of fighting spirit, and struggled to affect anything. Aside from a poorly thought through Gaffney effort, Limerick failed to really get close to the Waterford goal in the second, and had no shots on target all game. After such a good run of results since defeat to Longford, this result and the way it came about is truly stunning.
At the start o0f the season, you would have considered games against Longford and Waterford to be the “big ones”. Limerick’s record in those games this season is played, lost three. Scully is looking more and more unsuitable to be in the top job, a manager capable of getting Limerick past the weaker squads with aplomb, but unable to match up against squads at a similar or better level.
If it keeps up, with Mervue and Athlone to come before Limerick travel to Longford, a frank reappraisal of Limerick’s aims and ambitions will have to take place.
It was a night of draws at the top of the League of Ireland, as Sligo Rovers, Shamrock Rovers and Drogheda all failed to take advantage of the others dropped points, finish all square against St Pats, Derry and UCD respectively. It will be especially galling for Drogs, with a prime opportunity to get ahead of the defending champions wasted against the Students. St Pats draw again, as they continue to fall out of the hunt. Derry too, cannot afford many more draws if they want to still be considered in anyway contenders, though this result at least let them jump over Shelbourne into fifth.
A pack of four at the top – Sligo, Rovers, Drogheda and St Pats – has emerged at the top, just four points between first and fourth.
Cork City continued their upswing in fortunes with their best result of the campaign so far, getting all three points away to Shelbourne. While this season may already involve a hint of damage control, Cork are looking better and better, though one might wonder of this win could not be chalked down to previous experience with Shels last year. In fact, the right series of results in the coming week could easily see them rise above mid-table, but for Cork should be focusing on consolidating theor good run of form.
Bohemians also got a vital away win in the race to avoid the bottom, coming away from Dundalk with a 2-0 win. Both Cork and Bohs seem to be on the up more and more, but it remains to be seen whether this a permanent reverse in form. I suppose it is more likely that Bohs would slip back down, but they, at least, are showing themselves to be in no pushovers and are not too far from being ahead of the chasing pack.
For Monaghan, in front of a crowd reportedly around the 150 mark, it was a low ebb, losing at home to Bray. Roddy Collins is seriously struggling to do anything with this Monaghan team in the top flight, and a return to the First Division is looking more and more likely as time goes on. Bray, UCD and Cork all lie on eight points, one behind Dundalk, with “Mons” dead last with just five.
Down below, Longford beat off the challenge of close rivals Athlone to emerge 2-1 victors in their own “El Clasico”. With Limerick’s defeat, they have again stretched their lead at the top to four points. Wexford got back to winning ways with a 2-0 result at home to SD Galway, while Mervue got their first win of the season – the first win of both Galway clubs – in a surprise 3-0 result at home to Finn Harps. Didn’t see that coming.
Wexford lie just behind Limerick, the Shannonsiders on 18, the Slaneysiders on 16. Waterford have surged back up the table to claim fourth at the expense of Athlone, a point behind, and Finn Harps a further point behind. Mervue have taken a small leap off the bottom spot, leaving Salthill Devon holding the wooden spoon.
Limerick host Mervue next week.