Aaron Greene scored in each half as Saint Patrick’s Athletic edged to a 2-1 win over Limerick in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division at Jackman Park on Saturday evening.
Greene struck the woodwork from a difficult angle inside the opening five minutes as the Saints started brightly.
But it was Limerick who created two good opportunities past the midway point of the first half. Dean Clarke created the first one for Ian Turner but he failed to find the target, before Darragh Rainsford’s driven cross was headed wide by Clarke.
Then the visitors broke the deadlock as Killian Brennan’s corner caused trouble in the home box and despite Conor O’Donnell’s best efforts they eventually forced the ball in through Greene.
Early in the second half, Clarke was denied a penalty after being taken down by Ian Bermingham. Then Seán Harding cleared Greene’s header off the line before Clarke was denied by ‘keeper Conor O’Malley, in a lively start.
St. Pat’s doubled their lead through Greene’s lob on 72 minutes but Limerick were soon back in it through Turner’s free-kick. However, the Blues could not force an equaliser despite going right to the last whistle.
Manager Martin Russell made three changes to the team that were held in Drogheda three days earlier as Harding, Paudie O’Connor and captain Shane Duggan came back in to replace Shane Costelloe, Tony Whitehead and Jason Hughes.
Limerick were on the front foot straight away as Seán Russell saw his effort in the opening seconds drift wide.
On five minutes, St. Pat’s had their first chance when Chris Forrester’s cross from the right of the box was met by Greene at the back post but he struck the woodwork from close in.
Then Ciarán Kilduff’s drive was held by O’Donnell before Conan Byrne’s shot took a deflection off the former Shamrock Rovers forward on the way but again the ‘keeper collected. On ten minutes, Brennan’s free-kick from a central position close to 30-yards out went over.
On 21 minutes, Russell fired wide from distance, before Limerick created their best opening shortly after. Clarke did well down the left and got past his man, putting in a low cross for Turner but when well placed he got his effort all wrong.
Before the half-hour, the home side created another good opportunity when Rainsford’s driven cross was met by Clarke but it came at him quickly and his header flew wide.
St. Pat’s then broke the deadlock. Brennan floated a corner into the box where Forrester got there ahead of O’Donnell, and though the ‘keeper blocked twice, eventually Greene fired home following the scramble.
On 35 minutes, Forrester’s powerful low drive from outside the area was saved by O’Donnell, as the Dubliners went in leading by the minimum.
Just into the second half, Limerick should have been awarded a penalty when Bermingham brought down Clarke in the box but the referee waved play on. Then Harding did well to win a challenge in the opposing half but his strike drifted wide.
On 54 minutes, Byrne’s corner was met by Greene whose header seemed destined for the top corner but Harding cleared it off the line. At the other end, Clarke turned Kenny Browne easily and struck a 20-yard effort that O’Malley took two attempts to gather.
Past the hour, Costelloe entered for his first home league appearance since August 2013. Then Limerick had another penalty appeal turned down after an apparent handball in the box.
On 72 minutes, St. Pat’s doubled their lead through Greene’s lobbed finish over O’Donnell. But Limerick were back in it soon after as Turner’s free-kick from just outside the box found the bottom corner.
Then Russell’s free-kick was headed over by O’Connor but that was Limerick’s last real chance as St. Pat’s saw the game out to record their first away win of the season.
Limerick: Conor O’Donnell, Seán Harding (Shane Costelloe 63), Paudie O’Connor, Aidan Price, Robbie Williams, Paul O’Conor (Ross Mann 82), Ian Turner, Shane Duggan ©, Seán Russell, Darragh Rainsford (Jason Hughes 70), Dean Clarke. Goal: I Turner (75). Booked: J Hughes (89). Unused Subs: Tommy Holland (GK), Vinny Faherty, Tony Whitehead, Kieran Hanlon.
Saint Patrick’s Athletic: Conor O’Malley, James Chambers, Seán Hoare, Kenny Browne, Ian Bermingham, Greg Bolger, Killian Brennan (Conor McCormack 86), Conan Byrne, Chris Forrester, Aaron Greene, Ciarán Kilduff. Goals: A Greene (31, 72). Booked: K Browne (74), S Hoare (85). Unused Subs: Pat Jennings (GK), Morgan Langley, Lee Desmond, Sam Verdon, Cyril Guedje, Jack Bayly.
Referee: Seán Grant (Wexford).
Attendance: 425 (Official).
Report Date: Saturday 28 March 2015