Brian Ahern produced a late, late show as his brace in the dying moments sealed the LDSL Under-15 Premier Division title for Limerick who overcame Fairview Rangers 2-0 in their league decider at the Fairgreen on Wednesday night.
Audio: Listen below to manager Ger Costelloe as he reflected on the title win.
There were chances at both ends in a competitive first half, with Limerick producing the best of those as Ronan Geary fired agonisingly past the post from a tight angle while Wassu Ayane blasted over from close in.
Fairview looked the more likely after the break but as the game wore on Limerick began to threaten and they thought they had won it six minutes from time when the ball fell into the path of Ahern who rifled a fierce shot which struck the underside of the crossbar, bounced down and out.
However, there would be no denying Limerick who avoided a playoff with two late strikes, the first made by a superb through-ball from Stephen Smith which was latched onto by Ahern who finished clinically in a one-on-one.
Ahern then made certain in injury-time when he headed in following a fine cross from Ronan Geary after impressive work on the right.
The teams entered the game tied at the top of the table, knowing victory for either would see them crowned Champions while a draw would have led to a possible three-way playoff for the title. And it was Fairview who had the first sight of goal on two minutes as they shot over from inside the box.
On five minutes, Geary got free on the right of the area and from a tight angle sent a low drive just beyond the far upright. Then pressure from the young Blues eventually saw the ball fall to Ayane six-yards out but he struck over.
On the quarter-hour, the eye-catching Geary worked hard to create the opportunity with his delivery eventually finding its way over to Ahern who also fired over. At the other end, Josh Moloney – who showed a safe pair of hands throughout – gathered well from a long-range free-kick.
Fairview then survived ping-pong in their box as the ball flew across the face of goal twice, and before the half-hour Ahern saw a shot well saved as the sides went in level at the break.
The second half saw Fairview start brightly and they went close just three minutes in when a shot from inside the box was brilliantly pushed wide by Moloney at his near post.
It was proving a competitive clash as both teams looked to win it, but after a tactical switch by Ger Costelloe, Limerick threatened more. On 64 minutes, Geary was blocked in his attempts to get a shot off but it came back to Ahern who went for power, the ball cracking the underside of the crossbar and coming out.
But three minutes from time, the all-important moment arrived when Smith supplied a wonderful defence-splitting pass which Ahern ran onto and, with just the ‘keeper to beat, he fired to the bottom corner. The game and title were made safe in injury-time when Geary’s cross was met by the head of Ahern whose effort looped over the ‘keeper and in.
Afterwards, two-goal hero Ahern – who previously played with Broadford United in the Desmond League – told LimerickFC.ie: “It was a very difficult game. Coming to the end of it I think we were on top a bit but they were putting it up to us. Thankfully we managed to push through. For the goal, the ball came to me and I took a bad first touch and I just toe-poked it through. The second, a cross came in, I just took a step back and headed in.”
Congratulations to Ger Costelloe, Shane Costelloe and all the players on a fantastic achievement. Limerick FC also congratulate Fairview Rangers on an excellent season.
Limerick: Josh Moloney, Jay O’Loughlin, Keith Fitzgerald, Jake Prendergast, Stephen Smith, Ronan Geary, Filip Mostowy, Josh Quille, Wassu Ayane, Brian Ahern, Ben Coleman. Goals: B Ahern (67, 70+1). Subs: Ryan Wallace Hartnett, Finn Brady, Pa O’Donoghue, PJ Molloy, Andrei Haxhiaj.
Report Date: Wednesday 26 April 2017