Derry City kept the pressure on the three sides above them with a 3-0 win on Shannonside.
Rory Patterson opened the scoring with the last kick of the opening half before a late brace from Aaron McEneff sealed the points.
Plenty of managers have complained about the scheduling in recent weeks, but few can have more issues than the Candystripes – Derry were coming off the back of a frustrating stalemate with Shamrock Rovers. Just three days later, they’d make the 620km round trip to Shannonside.
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Arriving in Limerick, boss Kenny Shiels opted to make just one change from the side that drew with Stephen Bradley’s charges. Darren Cole came into the side in place of Conor McDermott.
The Blues are in the middle of an injury crisis and an incredibly young back four of Cantwell, Brouder, Whitehead and Murphy exhibited just that. However, confidence was high in the camp as they were able to put nine points between themselves and basement side Bray after their 1-0 win over the Seagulls on Friday.
Billy Dennehy missed out through suspension, while Shane Tracy reported ill to his boss a few hours before kickoff. Shaun Kelly picked up a knock in Bray that forced him off at half-time. In their place, came Tony Whitehead, Karl O’Sullivan and Alan Murphy.
The obvious problems that come with so much fixture congestion are based around a decrease in quality for clubs that don’t have huge squads and the monetary burden placed on supporters. This occasion at the Markets Field was both timid and poorly-attended.
Limerick had lost four on the bounce at home – and they hadn’t lost five top tier games in a row at home in over 25 years. The early stages suggested they wouldn’t be losing this one as the lengthy trip to the Treaty City seemed to take its toll.
Shane Duggan should have put the Blues ahead of Karl O’Sullivan’s cross found him on the penalty spot, but he blasted over.
For all Limerick’s possession, they would go behind against the run of play with the last action of the first half. Rory Hale picked up a pocket of space in behind Wearen where he appeared to have an age.
He cleverly dinked the ball in between Murphy and Brouder – and Rory Patterson made no mistake – tucking past Clarke in the far corner.
The second half was hampered by increasing fatigue, with chances being created from concentration lapses rather than incisive play.
As Limerick huffed and puffed, they were getting caught on the break time and time again – allowing Aaron McEneff to take advantage – netting a late brace; the latter from the penalty spot.
The long trip home would be worthwhile.
Limerick: Brendan Clarke; Kilian Cantwell, Killian Brouder, Tony Whitehead, Alan Murphy (Mark O’Sullivan 71, 5); Conor Clifford, Eoin Wearen (Barry Maguire 83, 5); Karl O’Sullivan, Shane Duggan, William Fitzgerald; Danny Morrissey.
Derry City: Ger Doherty; Darren Cole (Conor McDermott, 64), Gavin Peers, Eoin Toal, Jack Doyle; Nicky Low, Aaron McEneff; Jamie McDonagh, Rory Hale (Ben Doherty, 86), Ronan Curtis (Ronan Hale 76, 5); Rory Patterson.
Referee: Graham Kelly (Cork)