Limerick moved five points clear of Cork City in the Airtricity League Premier Division following this vital 2-1 victory at Thomond Park.

The Blues hit the front after 55 minutes when Barry Ryan's goal-kick was flicked on by Rory Gaffney and Craig Curran controlled expertly before rifling the Blues ahead.

Shaun Kelly then extended Limerick's advantage in the 70th minute slamming home the rebound after Mark McNulty had saved Rory Gaffney's initial attempt.

There was late drama with Daryl Horgan red carded in the 83rd minute before Danny Morrissey's 87th-minute goal gave Cork some optimism but Limerick held on for the win.

Passing the ball carefully early on Cork didn't appear to be a team lacking in confidence as Horgan impressed wide on the left.

In attack Danny Morrissey dovetailed well with Ciaran Kilduff, who was posing questions of the Limerick defence.

Still City came close from a second-minute set piece when Ian Turner's free kick was met by Kilduff, but the frontrunner was unable to guide a right-footed effort on target.

Limerick, however, overcame a shaky start and prompted by the central midfield trio of Stephen Bradley, Joe Gamble and David O'Leary, they found a way back into the game.

Danny Galbraith's inviting 16th-minute cross located Curran and his header forced a splendid reflex save from City custodian Mark McNulty.

At the opposite end, in the 31st minute, Barry Ryan had to be equally alert to push over a stinging Gearoid Morrissey drive from distance.

The match was interesting and McNulty, excellent against St Patrick's Athletic last Friday, made another excellent stop to thwart Curran in the 35th minute.

But Curran was highly effective for Limerick and he nudged the Blues ahead with a gorgeous strike from outside the area.

Buoyed up Limerick bagged again in the 70th minute when Kelly reacted promptly to drill home following McNulty's save from Gaffney.

Horgan saw red for a collision with Kelly, but Cork still narrowed the gap when Morrissey scored following approach work by Kilduff. It was hectic late on, but Limerick survived.

Limerick: Barry Ryan; Shaun Kelly, Robbie Williams, Stephen Folan, Patrick Nzuzi; Stephen Bradley, Joe Gamble, David O'Leary (Jason Hughes, 80); Danny Galbraith, Rory Gaffney (Barry Sheedy, 90), Craig Curran.
Subs not used: Shane Cusack, Shane Costelloe, Val Feeney, James McGrath.

Cork City: Mark McNulty; Neal Horgan, Garry Buckley, Dan Murray, Danny Murphy; Ian Turner (Stephen Kenny, 85), Gearoid Morrissey, Shane Duggan, Daryl Horgan; Danny Morrissey, Ciaran Kilduff.
Subs not used: Rob Lehane, Johnny Dunleavy, Brian Lenihan, Eoghan Murphy, Dave Ryan, Andy O'Connell.

Referee: N Doyle (Dublin).