It was a fantastic result. And I almost didn’t make it, but so glad I got there in the end.
The scoreline was the last thing I expected at half time. Limerick had not been terrible, but really defensive and unimaginative in the Pat’s half. Gaffney was a lone strike at the top of what looked like a 4-5-1 or a 4-3-2-1, with occasional help from runs by Galbraith or Tracey, but far too often he got the ball, or one of the other two did, and there was no one to pass or cross too. Limerick fell to pieces when pressured with the ball, and Pat’s didn’t. But while they had most of the ball and passed so much better, they couldn’t create any real good chances either. I believe think Oji’s header that scrapped off the post was the closest they came in the first 45. The Saints had a good shout for a penalty early on I thought (was it Bermingham who got clattered?) but the ref wasn’t blowing for stuff all game. Limerick had a handball shout turned down only a few minutes later, so I guess its six of one really.
At half time I would have been delighted with a draw, but Taylor sent Limerick back out a bit looser, willing to pass the ball forward a bit more, look for the runs, working down the right flank consistently. Galbraith’s goal had more than a touch of luck too it – Bermingham was hobbling at the time after a bad fall, but played on and I think he was supposed to be on Galbraith – but he took it well. Fully expected Pats to score regardless and they piled on the pressure alright, but the Limerick defence really showed up in the last half hour, limiting the visitors to a lot of wayward crosses and corners, and a few headers straight at Barry Ryan. Forrester missed an absolutely golden opportunity from close range right after the opener, thought he was offside, so did the Limerick defence, but he just blasted it wide.
The second goal was made by a effort from Galbraith to chase a seemingly wasted ball and win it. Nice finish from Hughes but the Pat’s defence had fallen asleep, Limerick could have had two more because they threw so many forward. All they could get afterward was corner, corner, corner, free, corner, and Limerick dealt with them all.
So, so happy with the performance that night. It wasn’t flawless or even outstanding, but it was tough and workmanlike, a huge step up from the last month. Ryan was solid as ever, taking so many high balls with confidence, and that save from Brennan late on was top class. The defence had a few nervy moments, especially in the first half hour, a few misplaced passes, but improved immensely as the game went on, Nzuzi especially. Oji remains an absolute tank, Limerick have a totally different defensive capability when he plays. The ball, Pats, that advertising board he smashed through in the second half, nothing could stop him tonight.
Midfield was packed, but honestly thought some of them could have done a bit better. Pats midfield were able to make a lot of headers under no pressure, and sometimes when Limerick got a break they seemed unable to pick the right pass. Exception for Galbraith, who was outstanding, the best game I’ve ever seen him play for the club. Just so much work rate, chasing the ball, making the runs, keeping Pats under pressure. Prince came off just as the second half started, very concerning that he can’t finish a game, but he was decent in the first at any rate. McGrath was good when he came on, tracked back nicely down the right wing to keep Pats hassled.
Gaffney was his usual self, full of beans if just under supported. His long throws are a total waste of time since he can’t find a man, and a striker who could be running into the box when he wins the ball on the wing would be great. But he also made the effort at the back when required too, and the effort he brings to the club should not be underestimated.
Taylor is some man when Limerick are winning though. From the way he celebrated Galbraith’s goal you’d think we were after winning the league, and for the next ten minutes it seemed like he was more concerned with keeping the singing section going than the game. Maybe he should rein that side of him in just a little bit. A steward threw a ball back to Pats fast for a throw in and Taylor gave him the most murderous look I’ve ever seen him make. Huge celebrations at the end, you could see how much it meant to the players and the fans to actually win such a game, against the champions. It’s good to get away from some of the funk of recent weeks, from events both on and off the pitch.
The attendance very poor, but a run of defeats will do that. Might get a good few more for the Bohs and UCD games now though. Atmosphere was so much better than the last game I got to in Thomond, the lads in the terrace kept it up all night, fair play to them. I beleive Pats had around 100 or so there as well, which was good to see.
I am so much more optimistic about what the team can achieve today than I was even last week. Up a few places, well clear of Athlone and with the possibility of strengthening the squad soon enough (I hope). There’s a mid table finish in this squad, if they can play like that more. Got it keep it up and get something off Drogheda now (oh, and win the Munster Senior Cup today I suppose).