It was a hard fought contest, but Limerick took Ferrycarrig by storm in the last 30 minutes to get the three points.
Fatigue simply must have been an issue, last week’s schedule of three games in four days, culminating in that disappointing away showing to Shamrock Rovers – tiring the squad out. As a result the first half and much of the second was a doddering affair, with both sides trading chances but Limerick looking sluggish and uninterested.
It took the Wexford opener, from some poor set-play defence, to spur Limerick into action and soon they were pressing forward with a much better mindset. Gaffney’s leveller, within minutes of going behind, caught Wexford out in set-play defence, before Pat Purcell took the final lobbed touch in a brilliant move that split Wexford open a few minutes after that. He’s been an excellent addition to the team.
Limerick were in control and never looked like surrendering the lead once they got it. In front of a very disappointing crowd – no more than 250 or so – Wexford Youths failed to really get back into the game, perhaps driven to apathy by the lack of reward for doing so, the Slaneysiders far adrift in the “also-rans” category of the First Division.
Dominic Foley saw out proceedings with a tap-in in injury time, after good work from Gaffney down the right side. For Limerick, the final half hour was a comprehensive display, showcasing what they are capable of when they move things into a higher gear, a demonstration of why they were so highly tipped to top the First Division. A tricky away trip to in-form Finn Harps – six games unbeaten at the current count – awaits them next weekend.
There were good result for Limerick elsewhere though, as both Waterford and Longford dropped points. It was fourth placed Athlone that took a share of the spoils against the Deisce, though that draw won’t be enough to restore any flagging hopes of a late push for promotion. A slip-up for Waterford, whose consistent victories against Limerick this season have been rendered meaningless by wasteful performances elsewhere.
Longford were worse off of course, falling at home to Finn Harps on a 1-0 scoreline, another blip, another awful home crowd for the former league leaders who looked very poor by most accounts. The three results leave Limerick with a six point advantage over Longford, seven over Waterford, with the league now entering its final series of games. Things looking better than they have for a while.
Further up, only three fixtures in the Premier Division over the weekend, the big games left until tonight. UCD grabbed an utterly precious away win at Shelbourne, in a battle to overtake Dundalk and avoid a relegation play-off. Still, good results for the Students and the open brand of football they play will be few and far between as the season enters its last ten games in the top tier. It helps that Dundalk dropped points away to Bray by a 1-1 scoreline. Only two points spate those bottom two clubs who will next play each other in September.
Drogheda got their campaign back on track after their disappointing showing at Sligo, ending Bohemians unbeaten streak by a 1-0 scoreline. Not sure if Drogheda have the capability to keep up the challenge for much longer through, the league leaders exposed a lot off laws last week.
It is tonight that bog things will be decided. Cork City have had an underwhelming season, considering the expectations they may have had. St Patrick’s Athletic need to get things moving in a big way, or lose touch at the top with time running out. A big game at Turner’s Cross, potentially season defining for both clubs.
Across the country, it’s the second Rovers/Rovers contest. The first was a dominating performance for Sligo, that signified more than anything the fall that Shams have undergone this season. Months on, and Sligo are still top, with games in hand on everyone, champions-elect certainly. But Shamrock Rovers have started a comeback with some good results in recent weeks, and a win would see them narrow the gap (games in hand notwithstanding) to just a point on second placed Drogheda and four points on Sligo. A fascinating match in store, televised as well on Setanta, so I urge everyone to give them a look.