St Patrick’s Athletic 1 – 1 Limerick FC
Limerick FC continued their pre season preparations in Castlebar when they played out an entertaining 0-0 draw with Premier Division side Galway United, and for the second week in a row it will be the Shannonsiders who will be much happier with their performance than their Premier opponents.
This game was the finale to a weekend of intensive training at the Breafy House sports resort in Castlebar, County Mayo and despite several players, including club captain Pat Purcell and vice captain Shane Tracy, as well as ex-Galway star Sean Kelly and striker Stephen Hickey of Clare, not being risked due to slight knocks picked up over the course of the weekend, it was Limerick who dominated for large periods, at times playing excellent flowing football and looking extremely well organised all over the field. The first half was one of few chances, Limerick coping well with the raids of Derek O’Brien down the left hand side, while themselves being unlucky several times on the counter attack, with John Tierney, Thomas Lyons, Jeffrey Judge, Daryl Kavanagh and Shane Clarke in particular impressing.
It was during the second half when it became plain to see just how far Limerick have come during the course of the pre season as they totally dominated their Premier Division opponents for long periods, with Dave Ryan in the Limerick goals a mere spectator at times as his back four of John Boyle, Declan Cahill, Peter White and Martin Deady held firm providing a platform for players such as Jeffrey Judge, Jason Hughes and Thomas Lyons to completely dominate the midfield, their tough tackling and swift passing moves often too much for an opposition who spent long periods chasing, as well as kicking out at, shadows. But with Dave Ryan’s older brother Barry in top form in the Galway United goal Limerick continued to be frustrated, Shane Clarke in particular being denied by several superb saves as the Galway United defence began to creak under the Limerick pressure with Robbie Kelleher also causing lots of problems following his introduction as a substitute. With the game entering it’s final quarter it looked like Limerick would finally get the goal their play deserved when Shane Clarke was unceremoniously hacked down by the Galway United centre half, however he was to be denied once again as the excellent Barry Ryan dived low to his right to keep out the penalty.
So 0-0 it finished then. But as usual in pre season it is the performance which is more important than the result and for the second week running Pat Scully can be very pleased with his young charges performance against more illustrious Premier Division opposition, as well as being delighted with the players reaction in general during the training weekend and with the season due to kick off on the 5th of March away to Mervue United, with a huge first home game of the season against Derry City to come on the following Friday at 7:45pm in Jackman Park, he can be as confident with his pre season preparations as any Limerick boss has been for a generation.
Limerick FC: Dave Ryan, John Boyle (Gavin Roche), Declan Cahill (Nigel Stanley), Peter White, Martin Deady, Jason Hughes, Thomas Lyons, Jeffrey Judge, Daryl Kavanagh (Robbie Kelleher), Shane Clarke, John Tierney.