Limerick brought the curtain down on their stay at Jackman Park with a 1-0 defeat by second-placed Cork City on Saturday evening, with Karl Sheppard’s first-half header splitting the teams.
After Liam Miller was denied by Conor O’Donnell early on, Cork broke the deadlock midway through the opening period when Sheppard headed in at the back post following Billy Dennehy’s delivery.
Limerick were struggling to create anything in attack and they almost fell further behind eight minutes before half-time when O’Donnell failed to clear a Colin Healy ball and Gavan Holohan’s strike was cleared off the line by Jason Hughes.
Into the second half, the Shannonsiders almost restored parity through Dean Clarke but his strike was well stopped by Mark McNulty. On 63 minutes, captain Shane Duggan saw his drive well held.
However, again the best chance of the second half fell the way of Cork as O’Donnell missed an attempted clearance but Mark O’Sullivan was unable to take advantage as he fired over an empty goal.
Manager Martin Russell made one change to the team that lined out in the defeat by Bohemians eight days earlier and it was enforced as Hughes came in to replace Seán Harding, who went off through injury at Dalymount Park.
Cork – who were unchanged from Monday night’s home win over Drogheda United – had a chance to open the scoring inside four minutes. Robbie Williams conceded possession just outside the box and the ball was played into Miller who saw his shot pushed away well by O’Donnell.
It would be a period where clear opportunities were rare but Cork took the lead on 22 minutes when Dennehy’s cross from the right was met at the back post by Sheppard who headed over the ‘keeper.
Limerick looked for a way back into the game and after finding space outside the box Darragh Rainsford had options inside but decided to shoot, his effort drifting off target.
It was almost 2-0 on 37 minutes when O’Donnell came to punch Healy’s long ball into the area but he missed it, leaving Holohan with an open goal but Hughes brilliantly cleared off the line to keep the hosts within touching distance.
Hughes was then forced off before the break with an injury, and with no recognised right-back on the bench, Tony Whitehead was called upon to fill the void.
Three minutes into the second half, Limerick went close through Clarke’s drive which was well pushed over by McNulty.
Past the hour – and after the introduction of Seán Russell – Limerick had a free-kick in a promising position, about 25-yards from goal. Shane Tracy’s free-kick hit the wall and came back to Duggan whose powerful strike was well held by McNulty.
On 71 minutes, Cork should have made the game safe when O’Donnell missed the ball on the edge of the box, leaving O’Sullivan in the clear but he fired wildly over with the goal at his mercy.
But that did not matter in the end as, try as they might, Limerick were unable to force another real chance as they ended their time back at Jackman Park without a win.
All roads now lead to the Markets Field for our return to our spiritual home, against Drogheda United on Friday 5 June (kick-off 7.45pm).
Limerick: Conor O’Donnell, Jason Hughes (Tony Whitehead 43), Paudie O’Connor, Robbie Williams, Shane Tracy, Darragh Rainsford (Ross Mann 73), Paul O’Conor, Shane Duggan ©, Ian Turner, Vinny Faherty (Seán Russell 62), Dean Clarke. Booked: None. Unused Subs: Tommy Holland (GK), Aidan Price, Val Feeney, Kieran Hanlon.
Cork City: Mark McNulty, John Kavanagh (Michael McSweeney 66), Darren Dennehy, Dan Murray, Kevin O’Connor, Colin Healy, Gavan Holohan, Liam Miller (Garry Buckley 78), Karl Sheppard (Liam Kearney 89), Billy Dennehy, Mark O’Sullivan. Goal: K Sheppard (22). Booked: G Holohan (45+1), M McSweeney (90+1). Unused Subs: Alan Smith (GK), John O’Flynn, Danny Morrissey, Rob Lehane.
Referee: Neil Doyle (Dublin). Attendance: 605 (Official).
Report Date: Saturday 16 May 2015