Veteran Jason Byrne arrives late to grab decisive goal for Bohs
Striker notches 217th league goal of his career as Limerick fade late on
Jason Byrne celebrates scoring a late winner for Bohs. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
If the first meeting between these sides had gone pretty decisively the way of the Dubliners then there was less to choose between them here, at least until late on when the visitors faded and Jason Byrne arrived on to bag the 217th league goal of his remarkable career.
It was the third straight game in which Keith Long’s side had scored a goal that mattered late on. They could have had a hatful here in the last 10 minutes as a Limerick side that must have thought they were in with a serious shout of grabbing a first league win of the season simply crumpled in the closing stages.
When Adam Evans and Marc Griffin both passed up good chances to deliver the winner, it looked as though Limerick might earn a point, but Byrne showed his young team-mates what to do with a swivel, turn and shot that left his opponents floundering.
Rise to third
The Dubliners may not score quite as many as the sides whose company they’ve been keeping towards the top of the table but after Derek Prendergast’s opener and with the game in Inchicore off, Byrne’s strike was enough to move them up to third. For Limerick, another defeat simply compounded their problems at the foot of the table.
Martin Russell’s side arrived having conceded more goals than any other side in the league and in the opening 10 minutes, the manager must have suspected that this could be another difficult night.
Under pressure, his entire back four looked anxious and there was more than one occasion when their passing across their area must have caused goalkeeper Conor O’Donnell’s heart to skip a beat.
O’Donnell, as it happens, didn’t look so clever himself when Bohemians created the first opportunity of the game after a minute or so with the goalkeeper left to scramble in no- man’s land as Paddy Kavanagh crossed and Roberto Lopes headed wide of the target.
Gradually, Limerick started to show some composure but while the visitors more or less matched their hosts in terms of possession, it was Long’s side who generally looked as though they thought they could score.
It didn’t take long before they were proven right with Lorcan Fitzgerald’s corner from the left turned home by Prendergast for the centre back’s first league goal of the season.
That might have been the start of something awful for a side that lost its last encounter with Bohemians 3-0 but they too had their moments over what remained of the half even if Kealan Dillon was given a few too many opportunities to move the ball forward unchallenged from midfield then pick out a team mate in the box.
Finally, just before the break Ian Turner’s corner almost crept straight in at the near post but, after a quiet half, Delany reacted well to the danger.
The challenge for Limerick when the game restarted was to produce something more sustained. Though they had not won in their first 11 outings of the campaign, they at least arrived here unbeaten in two.
It appeared to require a significant improvement or a slice of luck and as it turned out there was a bit of both about the equaliser 53 minutes in with Shane Tracy’s corner flicked goalwards by Paudie O’Connor, then cleared off the line by Fitzgerald only for Prendergast to hesitate as he shaped up to complete the clearance with his mistake allowing Dean Clarke to turn the loose ball home.
From there, they must have hoped to push on and win but things steadily slipped away from them with Bohemians’ sustained late pressure eventually enough to deliver the extra two points.