Cork City’s lead atop the Premier Division table was reduced to a point after they were outbattled by Limerick on Shannonside.
Billy Dennehy opened the scoring before Kieran Sadlier’s second penalty in five days restored parity.
John Caulfield opted to name an unchanged side from the Leesiders’ 1-0 win over Shamrock Rovers last Monday.
Alan Bennett wasn’t deemed fit enough to take back his starting berth from youngster Sean McLoughlin, while Steven Beattie is still out with a knock – meaning Conor McCarthy operated at right-back.
Limerick are dealing with injuries themselves, as Eoin Wearen, Barry Maguire and Mark O’Sullivan were unavailable for selection. Shane Tracy scored the winner the last time these sides met, but the long-serving Blues left-back was dropped for this one, as Tommy Barrett opted to play former City player Billy Dennehy in that role, alongside his brother Darren.
While this derby is based more on geographic location rather than an actual rivalry, familiarity may breed contempt as six of Limerick’s starting XI were either ex-City players or from the rebel county.
City had yet to keep a clean sheet away from home in the league, having conceded just 14 times in their 17 trips last year. Their ambitions to keep one in Garryowen disappeared early on, too. Former City winger Billy Dennehy picked up possession on halfway before skipping past half-hearted challenges from Cork midfielders.
After his mazy run, Dennehy fired from the edge of the area and Mark McNulty couldn’t reach his low drive. He celebrated wildly in front of the Limerick support and this derby had its edge.
Tommy Barrett would have been counting down the seconds until half time as City took control. He would barely get to the half-hour mark before the champions were level.
Barry McNamee’s corner from the right was floated into a dangerous area and Darren Dennehy was adjudged to have dragged down Graham Cummins in the area. Kieran Sadlier stepped up and converted his second spot kick in five days.
The second half was a war of attrition, but Cork weren’t a match for their Munster rivals, as former player Cian Coleman ran the midfield for long spells.
Brendan Clarke’s only real test of the second half came when he palmed away a stinging effort from Kieran Sadlier, but in truth – Limerick deserved at least a point from this, and they got it with relative ease.
Limerick: Brendan Clarke; Shaun Kelly, Tony Whitehead, Darren Dennehy, Billy Dennehy; Kilian Cantwell, Cian Coleman; Danny Morrissey (Karl O’Sullivan, 67), Shane Duggan, Daniel Kearns (Will Fitzgerald, 46); Connor Ellis.
Cork City: Mark McNulty; Conor McCarthy, Aaron Barry, Sean McLoughlin, Shane Griffin; Conor McCormack (Michael Howard, 80), Gearoid Morrissey; Karl Sheppard, Barry McNamee (Jimmy Keohane, 70), Kieran Sadlier; Graham Cummins.
Referee: Neil Doyle (Dublin).