Shamrock Rovers claimed their first away points of the season thanks to Graham Burke’s penalty fifteen minutes from time, in a 1-0 win over Limerick.
Ronan Finn was fouled by Shaun Kelly for the spot-kick which Graham Kelly correctly awarded, before Sean Kavanagh saw red for kicking out at Billy Dennehy.
Stephen Bradley made three changes from the side that beat St. Pat’s on Friday. Sam Bone, Gary Shaw and local Limerick lad Joel Coustrain replaced Greg Bolger, Dan Carr and Brandon Miele.
Miele had netted five times in his previous six games against Limerick, but a fired-up Joel Coustrain was selected ahead of him - with Bradley hoping he could come back to torment the club that turned him down last season.
Limerick faced somewhat of an injury crisis; Darren Dennehy, Daniel Kearns, Eoin Wearen, Mark O’Sullivan, Barry Maguire and Danny Morrissey are all facing a spell on the sidelines. The Blues’ bench was reduced to six, and all of them bar 19-year-old Jeff McGowan graduated from the Shannonsiders’ underage system.
These sides hadn’t played out a nil-all draw since 1992, but midway through this clash, it appeared the most likely outcome. Limerick’s attacking threat was limited to long throws, while Rovers’ trio of free-kicks on the edge of the box were their best moments.
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Rovers had gone eighteen months without a draw away from home, while Limerick had failed to keep a clean sheet against the Hoops since 2014.
The first half was a real war of attrition as the sides’ chances were limited to set pieces.
It would then come as no surprise that the only goal of the game came from the spot after a dour opening half did little to inspire the 1,400 in attendance.
Ronan Finn went on a mazy run down the left before Donegal native Kelly dived in to bring him down. He appealed, but he could have little complaint in truth.
Burke stepped up and sent Brendan Clarke the wrong way before celebrating with the sizeable Rovers support behind the goal.
Sean Kavanagh was dismissed ten minutes later as he kicked out at Billy Dennehy, but the Hoops hung on with ease to go second in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division for the timebeing.
Limerick: Brendan Clarke; Shaun Kelly (Jeff McGowan, 79), Tony Whitehead (Adam Foley, 87), Killian Brouder, Billy Dennehy; Cian Coleman, Kilian Cantwell; William Fitzgerald, Shane Duggan, Henry Cameron (Karl O’Sullivan, 63); Connor Ellis.
Shamrock Rovers: Tomer Chencinski; Ethan Boyle, Roberto Lopes, Lee Grace, Trevor Clarke; Ronan Finn, Sam Bone; Joel Coustrain (Brandon Miele, 73), Graham Burke (Luke Byrne, 87), Sean Kavanagh; Gary Shaw (Dan Carr, 64).