Seán Russell scored a brace on his league debut for Limerick but they were twice pegged back by newly-promoted Longford Town as the sides settled for a 2-2 draw at Jackman Park on Saturday evening.
Russell broke the deadlock before the midway point of the first half with a powerful strike but Longford soon cancelled that out through David O’Sullivan’s close-range finish.
Russell put the Shannonsiders back in front before the break with a simple finish from Dean Clarke’s centre. But before the hour mark, Longford levelled again as O’Sullivan headed past Conor O’Donnell.
There were chances for both teams to win it. Gary Shaw was denied well by O’Donnell in a one-on-one before the Longford No10 somehow headed wide with the goal at his mercy. At the other end, Paul O’Conor struck wide after good work by Clarke to set him up.
Manager Martin Russell made two changes to the team that lost in Cork eight days earlier as captain Shane Duggan – serving a suspension – and Vinny Faherty were replaced by Jason Hughes and Russell who made their first league appearances of the season.
Longford were the first to threaten around seven minutes in when Pat Sullivan tried his luck from distance but O’Donnell gathered before Kevin O’Connor broke through but he dragged his effort wide.
Limerick then produced their first opening on 11 minutes when Clarke played a superb ball out to Ian Turner on the right and his cross was headed goalwards by Darragh Rainsford but Paul Hunt gathered.
Then stand-in skipper Robbie Williams headed over a Russell free-kick – although the linesman’s flag was up in any case – before O’Conor also saw his effort go off target.
Then at the other end, Don Cowan threatened twice, firstly being well blocked in the box by Aidan Price before he fired wide from a tight angle.
But Limerick broke the deadlock on 21 minutes when Russell picked up possession just outside the box and skipped past his man before drilling a brilliant shot past Hunt.
That lead was short-lived as Longford levelled within five minutes as O’Connor’s shot was blocked and O’Donnell’s attempted clearance fell to O’Sullivan who had the simplest of tasks to tap in close to the line.
But the hosts restored their advantage before half-time as Clarke raided down the right-hand side of the area and sent in a low cross for Russell to finish for his second.
At half-time, Faherty replaced Rainsford. After a quiet opening to the second half, Longford found another equaliser on 58 minutes when Cowan’s cross from the right was headed to the net by O’Sullivan from close range.
Shortly after, Turner saw his free-kick from a promising position around 25-yards out drift wide. Then Shaw was through on goal for the visitors but O’Donnell came out well to deny him.
On 71 minutes, Conor Powell got down the left and crossed for Shaw who somehow headed wide with just the ‘keeper to beat.
Six minutes later, Clarke did well on the left, getting past his man in the box at the by-line and pulled the ball back for O’Conor but he struck wide from 20-yards.
Then, for the visitors, O’Connor’s delivery from the left was met by O’Sullivan but he directed his header off target, in what proved to be the last opportunity for a winner, with both teams settling for their first point of the campaign.
Limerick: Conor O’Donnell, Seán Harding, Paudie O’Connor, Aidan Price, Robbie Williams, Paul O’Conor, Jason Hughes, Darragh Rainsford (Vinny Faherty HT), Seán Russell, Ian Turner, Dean Clarke. Goals: S Russell (21, 40). Booked: R Williams (33). Unused Subs: Tommy Holland (GK), Tony Whitehead, Shane Costelloe, Val Feeney, Ross Mann, Kieran Hanlon.
Longford Town: Paul Hunt, Jamie Mulhall, Pat Sullivan, Pat Flynn, Conor Powell, Don Cowan (Lorcan Shannon 75), Stephen Rice, Mark Salmon ©, Kevin O’Connor, David O’Sullivan, Gary Shaw. Goals: D O’Sullivan (26, 58). Booked: None. Unused Subs: Paul Skinner (GK), Mark Rossiter, Rhys Gorman, Martin Deady, Tom Morris, Kaleem Simon.
Referee: James McKell (Tipperary). Attendance: 481 (Official).
Report Date: Saturday 21 March 2015