Limerick hold on for win to take ascendancy into second leg

Finn Harps trail after first leg of relegation play-off at the Market’s Field

SSE Airtricity League promotion/relegation play-off final first leg: Shaun Kelly celebrates scoring for Limerick. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Limerick FC 1 Finn Harps 0

A cracking drive by Killybegs native Shaun Kelly kept Limerick's survival dream alive in the Premier Division after a tense battle against promotion chasing Finn Harps before a record attendance at the Market's Field on Monday night.

It was a teak tough contest during which Harps might have had a penalty from one of their rare attacks, but it wasn’t to be on a night in which they were ultimately happy to get away with only a one goal defeat. Five players from Finn Harps and two from Limerick were yellow carded as no inch was given.

Limerick dominated the early stages and almost snatched the lead after only eight minutes. Shaun Kelly went on a run, linked with Ian Turner and took a return pass to let fly from 20 yards but his effort went over off the crossbar.


Vinny Faherty went close for the home side whose huge support lifted the roof when Kelly hit a cracking goal from 25 yards.

But Finn Harps kept their cool and they created a couple of decent chances with Faherty getting back twice to save Limerick.

Harps best chance of the first 45' fell to Nathan Boyle who gained possession after a back header by Kelly beat Freddy Hall - but the angle was too acute for Boyle.

Limerick almost made it two on the stroke of halftime but Robbie Williams, from the edge of the box, fired a few inches over. Tony McNamee then rescued Harps when he put a Clarke effort out for a corner.

Finn Harps had a penalty claim turned down as they began to exert more pressure but it was Limerick who went closest when Faherty’s header went wide off the post.

Limerick had a lucky escape twelve minutes from the end when BJ Banda rounded goalkeeper Freddy Hall but from 25 yards with nobody in goal he blazed wide.

The hosts were then fortunate when Kelly was shown only a yellow card for a two footed challenge and while the home side continued to dominate they could not manage a second goal.

Limerick FC: Hall, Kelly, Williams, Kanyuka, O'Conor, Duggan, Tracy, Turner, Faherty, Russell, Clarke (Lynch 69).

Finn Harps: Gallagher, Coll, Cowan, Crossan(Fox 62), Malley J, Malley P, McNulty, Funston (Tagbo 83), Harkin, McNamee, Boyle (Banda 53).

Referee: R Rogers.