Ryan 41, Sheahan 45
League leaders Dundalk are looking nervously over their shoulders at Waterford United after seeing their lead at the top cut to two points following this defeat at Jackman Park.
Limerick were in control for the entire game and two stunning strikes from Dave Ryan and man of the match Gary Sheahan secured the points from the Blues on Shannonside.
It was a deserved win for Mike Kerley’s side – and the margin could have been even wider except for some outstanding goalkeeping from Chris Bennion.
John Tierney had an excellent opportunity to open the scoring inside the opening two minutes but lifted his lob over Bennion after being set free inside the box by Gary Sheahan.
Bennion was called into action again minutes later, diving bravely at the feet at Sheahan – while Dessie Baker flashed a volley across the Blues goal on 10 minutes.
Wayne Colbert then crossed for Paul Danaher, but the former Wembley Rovers defender’s downward header was well saved by Bennion. Sheehan then had an excellent opportunity to open the scoring on the half hour mark after he beat the Dundalk netminder to the race for an underhit back pass.
But the Lims striker lifted the ball over the bar from inside the box with the goal at his mercy. Sheahan almost redeemed that miss with a low strike minutes later following a fine movement from the hosts. However, Bennion once again proved to be an effective last line of defence.
However, the Lilywhites stopper could do little about Lims’ opening goal on 41 minutes. Tierney began the move on the left, and when his low cross found Ryan the Lims midfielder supplied a superb right footed finish from the edge of the box.
It Ryan efforts was good, then Sheahan’s was even better, a stunning twenty yard drive which flew into the top right hand corner of the net right on the stroke of half time. Dundalk boss John Gill read the riot act at the break and replaced Shiels, Flannagan and Baker for the start of the second period.
But it was Limerick who almost stretched their lead with Ryan breaking through on the left on two occasions. Sheahan then beat the offside trap but Bennion was swiftly off his line to snuff out the danger.
Bennion then pulled off a fine double save from Wayne Colbert and Sheahan as Limerick sought to put the game beyond the visitors reach. Dundalk broke upfield from that let off, Jamie Duffy racing clear on the left only to see his effort saved at the near post by Dave Ryan in the 71st minute – and Duffy almost pulled one back with a header in the closing minutes.
But Sheahan came within inches of capping an impressive individual performance in the 87th minute with a cheeky 30 yard lob which drifted just wide of the post.
Limerick: Ryan, Daly, Cleary, Danaher, Purcell, Colbert, Barrett (White 80), Ryan, Walsh, Sheahan (Tier 88), Tierney (Manjor 85)
Dundalk: Bennion, Flannagan (O’Connor h/t), Crowley, Ryan, Whelahan, Shiels (Marney h/t), Cassidy, Crowley, Smyth, Baker (Vaughan h/t), Duffy
Referee: N Doyle (Dublin)