U19 Report: Hanlon The Hero In Hard-Fought Win
Kieran Hanlon’s close-range finish in the first half proved enough for Limerick as they overcame a stubborn Wexford Youths side on a 1-0 scoreline at LIT/St. Nessan’s on Saturday afternoon, as they moved to within two points of leaders Mervue United in the Under-19 Southern Division.
Limerick were on the front foot from the opening moments and Wexford had netmindr Danny Niekis to thank for keeping them level, his save from Paudie O’Connor particularly impressive.
Wexford had chances of their own in a lively opening period, with Conor Maher going close, but Limerick grabbed the all-important goal before the half-hour mark when Hanlon tapped in after a well-worked corner.
Niekis was in fine form on the day and he somehow got to Tony Whitehead’s header before denying Ross Mann and Cian O’Donoghue as Limerick searched for a second. In between, Wexford’s James Shiggins was unlucky to see his shot come back off the bar with Nathan Murray beaten.
The second half had much less in the way of goalmouth action although again it was Limerick who made the running.
The hosts went closest to doubling their advantage three minutes from time when substitute Evan Shine’s shot came back off the post, but by then Hanlon’s strike had proven the difference as it secured a precious victory.
Limerick – going into the game with a 100 percent home record – started brightly and had a number of chances early on. On six minutes, O’Connor’s header from James McGrath’s corner was brilliantly tipped over by Niekis.
Hanlon then saw a shot blocked wide for a corner which was taken by Val Feeney, whose delivery was cleared only as far as Whitehead on the edge of the box, the skipper volleying a dipping effort just over the bar.
At the other end, with Murray stranded, Maher fired agonisingly over an empty goal from distance. Then Shiggins played in Daryl Power with an inch-perfect pass but Feeney tracked back superbly to get a toe to the ball and deny him a shot.
On 18 minutes, O’Donoghue saw a shot from range pushed away by Niekis, with Hanlon offside on the follow-up. O’Donoghue then set up Feeney on the edge of the box but his tame shot was easily gathered.
But Limerick were ahead on 27 minutes. McGrath’s short corner found Feeney whose high cross to the back post was knocked goalwards by Conor Maguire, with Hanlon tapping in right on the line.
Past the half-hour, Niekis had to produce wonders to deny Limerick a second goal as Whitehead rose to powerfully meet McGrath’s corner but the visiting No1 somehow got across to push it away.
On 35 minutes, Mann’s stinging shot was gathered at the second attempt, and then Limerick were lucky not to be dragged level as Shiggins’ dipping shot from the left crashed back off the crossbar.
Then Hanlon’s shot was saved and Niekis again pulled off a wonderful save as he tipped over O’Donoghue’s shot which seemed destined for the top corner.
Before the break, after a good move, Shane Walsh played in O’Donoghue but he blasted over when under pressure in the box, with Limerick – who had 11 corners during the half – having to be content with the narrowest of leads at the interval.
After the resumption, Hanlon had two early efforts off target in what proved to be a quiet second half, with O’Connor’s header wide from Feeney’s corner on 51 minutes one of the best chances.
Before the hour, Hanlon fired wildly off target when in a promising position. Midway through the period, Limerick had another chance when Feeney met a low cross but his effort drifted across goal and wide.
On 76 minutes, McGrath fed Mann who turned smartly on the edge of the area but his effort flashed wide of the post, before the same player headed into the arms of Niekis after rising to meet O’Donoghue’s cross.
Limerick almost added a second on 87 minutes when Feeney’s free-kick eventually came to Shine after some hesitant defending but his effort from a tight angle came back off the post.
However, despite late pressure from Wexford, that mattered little as Limerick held firm to secure a valuable win which moves them within touching distance of Mervue with four games remaining.
Limerick: Nathan Murray, Conor Maguire, Paudie O’Connor, Tony Whitehead ©, Colm Murphy (Michael Guerin 90+2), Ross Mann, Val Feeney, James McGrath, Shane Walsh, Cian O’Donoghue, Kieran Hanlon (Evan Shine 81). Goal: K Hanlon (27). Booked: J McGrath (23). Unused Subs: Tadhg Ryan (GK), Mark Hoban, Ronan Coughlan, AJ O’Connor, Nathan Kelly.
Wexford Youths: Danny Niekis, Ross Moore, Liam Walsh, Eoin Dunleavy, Podge Doyle (Conor Gibson 81), Conor Maher, Andy Wall, Ethan O’Neill, Aaron Maddock, James Shiggins, Daryl Power. Booked: L Walsh (11), R Moore (82). Unused Subs: Danny Bolger (GK), Nevin Rossiter.
Report Date: Saturday 23 November 2013