Derry City 1, Limerick 2
DERRY City were clearly suffering from an FAI Cup hangover tonight and they were brought back to earth with a bang as Limerick recorded a first ever league win at Brandywell through Rory Gaffney’s 90th minute winning goal.
The visitors had went in front at the start of the second half against an understrength City side when skipper, Shane Duggan poked the ball past Ciaran Gallagher from close range. However that lead lasted just five minutes as Barry McNamee headed in from Stephen Dooley’s cross on 63 minutes.
And when Gaffney struck late in the game following a mistake by Mark Timlin, there was no way back for the home lot who were feeling the effects from Tuesday night’s semi-final cup win over Shamrock Rovers.
Peter Hutton made five changes to his starting line-up from the team which defeated Shamrock Rovers on Tuesday night.
Ciaran Gallagher, Shane McEleney, Sean Houston, Mark Timlin and Ryan Curran were all presented with a chance to stake a claim for the FAI Cup Final next month.
And midfielder, Danny Ventre, who came on for Dean Jarvis on 66 minutes, gave the Derry boss a boost as he returned to the squad following his recent knee cartilage operation.
Meanwhile, Limerick made just the one enforced change to the team which defeated Athlone last week with Michael Leahy replacing the suspended Patrick Nzuzi at right back.
It was an evenly matched opening to a game which had an end of season feel to it - neither side really forcing the issue.
Limerick launched several promising attacks but both Prince Agyemang and Stephen Folan sent their shots wide of goal in the opening 10 minutes.
The home lot also had their chances. Stephen Dooley sent an inviting cross towards the back post on 21 minutes but Michael Duffy’s looping header across goal went wide.
Mark Timlin then sent Sean Houston through on goal but he dragged his shot wide from the edge of the area.
Ian Turner was gifted Limerick’s best chance of the first half with five minutes to go when Barry Molloy’s clearance fell kindly to his feet but he sent his shot the wrong side of the near post.
Substitute Darragh Rainsford started the second half brightly and Ciaran Gallagher needed to be alert to push the Limerick man’s left footed shot from an angle behind on 52 minutes.
Gaffney was then sent scampering clear of the Derry defence but he screwed his shot across the face of goal and wide with Gallagher stranded.
The visitors had upped the ante and they deservedly took the lead on 58 minutes. Duggan’s well struck shot from 18 yards hit Gallagher on the chest and the Limerick skipper reacted quickest, following up his shot and poking it beyond the Derry keeper.
That lead lasted just five minutes as McNamee headed Dooley’s lofted cross into the bottom corner from six yards.
Limerick responded immediately and Gallagher palmed Turner’s shot behind at full stretch and Gaffney volleyed narrowly over from the resultant corner.
Gallagher fisted clear Turner’s powerful free-kick from 25 yards with just six minutes remaining as Limerick pressed for the winner.
And it arrived on 90 minutes when striker, Gaffney capitalised on Timlin’s mistake and he sent his low shot into the corner.
Derry City: C. Gallagher; D. Jarvis (D, Ventre 66),, B. Molloy, S. McEleney, M. Timlin; S. Dooley (R. Patterson 82), B. McNamee, P. Lowry (R. McBride 88), S. Houston, M. Duffy; R. Curran; Subs Not Used - G. Doherty, N. Boyle, P. McEleney, S. Dunlop.
Liemrick: A. Abass; M. Leahy, S. Folan, S. Oji, S. O’Connor; I. Turner, S. Duggan, P. Agyemang ( J. Ndo 82),, L. Lynch, K. Djilali (D. Rainsford h-t); R. Gaffney; Subs Not Used - S. Cusack, S. Tracey,C. Murphy, T. Whitehead, R. Mann.
Referee - Paul Tuite (Dublin).