Limerick 4-2 Athlone Town
Athlone Town's SSE Airtricity League Premier Division survival bid was dented at Thomond Park as Limerick FC earned a deserved victory.
Limerick hit the front in the sixth minute courtesy of a splendid Rory Gaffney strike following a poor Ryan Coulter clearance.
But Athlone levelled in the 35th minute as James O'Brien and Dylan Hayes combined enabling Derek Doyle to restore parity.
After the restart Kieran Djilali bagged a brace before Alan Byrne narrowed the gap in the last minute again. Gaffney notched Limerick's fourth in stoppage time to seal the issue.
Set up to be gritty and compact Athlone were keen to defend in numbers early on as Mark Hughes anchored a five man midfield.
But the visitors' were fortunate to survive a fifth minute scare as Gaffney was denied by an excellent Ryan Coulter save.
However Gaffney, one of the form footballers in the top flight, made no mistake a minute later when expertly rifling Limerick ahead with a cool finish.
Coulter did manage thwart the effervescent Gaffney in the 13th minute as Martin Russell's side sought to extend their lead.
The woodwork then came to Athlone's rescue on the quarter hour mark when Kieran Djilali's effort from an acute angle struck a post.
An 18th minute left wing Djilali cross located Gaffney, who couldn't supply the requisite touch in a crowded area.
As the opening period lingered on Athlone improved significantly and they pinched an equaliser in the 35th minute.
O'Brien's delightful delivery was controlled by Dylan Hayes and his cross was gleefully thumped home by Doyle.
Ten minutes after the restart the complexion of the contest altered again as Limerick scored when Djilali converted the rebound following a Couter save from Gaffney.
Djilali, prominent throughout, skipped clear to slam a third for Limerick as Athlone were struggling to deal with the locals' lively attack.
Byrne headed Athlone into contention with only seconds remaining, but Gaffney replied instantly for Limerick.
Limerick FC: Ali Abass; Patrick Nzuzi, Samuel Oji, Stephen Folan, Shane O’Connor; Ian Turner, Prince Agyemang (Joseph Ndo, 76), Shane Duggan, Kieran Djilali; Lee Lynch; Rory Gaffney.
Subs not used: Barry Ryan, Mick Leahy, Shane Tracy, Darragh Rainsford, Val Feeney, Ross Mann.
Athlone Town: Ryan Coulter; Brian Shortall, Derek Prendergast, Alan Byrne, Stephen Dunne; Dylan Hayes (Eric Foley, 65), Kealan Dillon, Mark Hughes, James O’Brien (Ian Sweeney, 69), Derek Doyle; Sean Brennan (Philly Gorman, 80).
Subs not used: Paul Skinner, Aidan Collins, Barry Clancy, Graham Rusk, Eric Foley.
Referee: Graham Kelly (Cork).