Limerick Under-19 manager Tommy Barrett heaped praise on his players after they again “showed a lot of character” to battle back from the brink to overcome Shelbourne at Hogan Park on Sunday afternoon.
The young Shannonsiders recovered from four body blows, losing midfielder Jack Lynch to a first-half red card, falling behind twice in the game and then again in the penalty shootout.
Eventually – after Shane Lowth’s extra-time injury-time equaliser had made it 2-2 – they progressed to the Champions Knockout Phase semi-finals thanks to Ross Mann’s decisive spot-kick, leaving Barrett understandably delighted.
“I’m very happy, particularly down to ten men for the whole of the second half and then extra-time,” Tommy told Limerick FC TV. “It was great to get the win; coming from behind twice, the lads showed a lot of character.
“That’s what this squad has. They have got a lot of belief in themselves and they keep going to the end, so it’s fantastic for them.
“In fairness, I thought we were the better team in the first half – in the first ten minutes we were a bit ropey. I thought we were turning the screw. Jack Brady, in fairness to him, pulled off some very good saves and kept them in it. They cleared a few off the line in the first half.
“Then we went down to ten. I was disappointed with the goal we gave away. I still wouldn’t be happy with the goal we gave away from a set-piece. We have been very good all year from set-pieces. It doesn’t usually happen us, so I was disappointed in that.
“But we showed great character – that’s the main thing. We came back. It’s the first time we’ve conceded two goals in a long time but I suppose that might be down to ten men as well. But it was great.”
Having been reduced to ten men just before half-time, Barrett’s team-talk was one of positivity, with the boss believing fortune favours the “brave”.
“We went 4-3-2 and we stayed positive,” he said, asked what the message was at the break. “I thought we were going to be the better team. I said we were going to win the game.
“I was still confident of winning the game, because we practice sometimes with ten men – you have to legislate for that even though our discipline has been very good all year. We’ve done very well. We always stay positive as a group and it’s a great win.
“You have to keep going. I always knew there was a chance in us once we were getting it forward. We went 3-2-4 for the last few minutes; we had two out wide and two boys in the middle.
“You’ve got to be brave and you’ve got to take a chance, and it paid off. They sat back. That suited us; we have very quick lads and again the lads that came off the bench have done a job for us.”
Limerick now face Saint Patrick’s Athletic in the last four at Hogan Park next Sunday afternoon (kick-off 3pm), with Barrett concluding: “Pat’s at home – happy days. Hopefully, we can get a win. We’ll do our best to do so. We’ll keep plugging away.”
Date: Sunday 12 April 2015