Brandon Miele haunted Limerick once more as he scored twice to help Shamrock Rovers to a 4-1 win in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division at Tallaght Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Limerick had gone closest to making the breakthrough in the early stages when defender Robbie Williams headed off the crossbar from close in, and then the tide turned towards the home side.
Rovers broke the deadlock with a stunning long-range strike from Miele, who had denied the Shannonsiders victory in the closing minutes at Jackman Park back in April.
Martin Russell’s side’s task became more uphill early in the second half when Hoops captain Conor Kenna made it 2-0, and although Ian Turner pulled one back with a tap-in on the hour, Pat Cregg quickly restored the two-goal cushion.
Rovers completed the scoring when Miele found his second of the day eight minutes from time, as the Dubliners kept pace in the top four, five points behind second-placed Cork City with a game in hand.
Russell had made three changes to the team that lined out in the scoreless draw in Derry nine days earlier as Aidan Price, Sligo-bound Jason Hughes and Ross Mann were replaced by Paudie O’Connor, Prince Agyemang and Lee-J Lynch.
Rovers were making their first outing in the league in over four weeks and manager Pat Fenlon made four changes to their last team which won in Galway.
Out went Craig Hyland, Tim Clancy, Ryan Brennan and Stephen McPhail, to be replaced by ‘keeper Barry Murphy, Kenna, youngster Cian Kavanagh and experienced striker Danny North.
Rovers were sloppy in possession in the early exchanges. Before the quarter-hour, they threatened for the first time when Gary McCabe’s corner was heading for Kenna but Freddie Hall did well to gather ahead of him.
Kenna then had another opportunity from another set-piece delivery moments later but he fired well over from just inside the box. Miele then threatened but he crossed when in position to shoot.
Limerick went close on 18 minutes when Shane Tracy’s corner was met by Williams whose header from inside the six-yard box hit the woodwork and went over.
North then fired wide from distance before O’Connor – not for the first time this season – produced a superb goal-saving tackle as Miele attempted to set up Kieran Marty Waters in the area.
But there was no denying Rovers past the half-hour when Miele picked up possession and drove a strike from 30-yards to the top corner, giving Bermudan international Hall no chance.
Eight minutes into the second half, the Hoops doubled their lead when Waters’ free-kick was met by Kenna inside the box. It could have been 3-0 soon after when Waters fed North but he shot straight at Hall, and then the striker fired wide.
Limerick looked to be back in the game on 62 minutes when Barry Murphy failed to hold an effort and Turner was on hand to put in the rebound. But that hope was short-lived as, after North was guilty of another miss, Cregg was cool in completing the job.
After North again missed a good opportunity, Limerick could have brought the game back to 3-2 when substitute Vinny Faherty beat Kenna but after picking out Dean Clarke the young forward put it off target when well placed.
The game was put beyond any doubt on 82 minutes when another sub Gareth McCaffrey, with a back-heel, set up Miele who made it three for the season against Limerick.
Shamrock Rovers: Barry Murphy, Simon Madden, David Webster, Conor Kenna ©, Luke Byrne, Gary McCabe, Patrick Cregg, Brandon Miele, Cian Kavanagh (Ryan Brennan 72), Kieran Marty Waters (Dylan Kavanagh 84), Danny North (Gareth McCaffrey 80). Goals: B Miele (34, 82), C Kenna (53), P Cregg (65). Booked: P Cregg (90). Unused Subs: Craig Hyland (GK), Maxime Blanchard, David O’Connor, Gavin Brennan.
Limerick: Freddie Hall, Paul O’Conor, Paudie O’Connor, Robbie Williams, Shane Tracy, Ian Turner (Vinny Faherty 63), Prince Agyemang (Darragh Rainsford 63), Shane Duggan ©, Lee-J Lynch, Seán Russell, Dean Clarke. Goal: I Turner (62). Booked: S Tracy (32). Unused Subs: Tommy Holland (GK), Seán Harding, Aidan Price, Ross Mann, Seán McSweeney.
Referee: Anthony Buttimer (Cork).
Report Date: Sunday 26 July 2015