A hotly disputed third goal only papered over the cracks on a disappointing night for Finn Harps.
Finn Harps 1
(Coughlin 1, Guthrie 55, Behan 80)
Denis Behan’s 80th minute header was adjudged to have just crossed the line by the referee – but only after he consulted one of his assistants on the line.
That goal was just reward for the visitors who were by far the better team. Just to rub salt into the wounds for Harps, they had midfielder, Thomas McBride shown a straight red card for a challenge on Shaun Kelly at the finish.
Title chasing Limerick created by far the greater amount of chances on a night when Harps recent signing, Rory Kelly marked his home debut with a fine individual display.
Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to prevent Felix Healy’ men going down to a first league defeat in four games and they now drop a place to fifth in the table.
Buncrana man Kelly had made his debut in last weekend’s win in Longford. But within a minute of this contest, the Buncrana man was picking the ball out of his net following the opening goal.
In fairness to Kelly, he could do little to prevent Garvin Coughlin scoring from close range in a move that saw Killybegs man, Shaun Kelly heavily involved for the visitors.
In a frantic opening period, Harps got themselves back on level terms on six minutes. Limerick keeper, David Ryan’s attempted clearance was blocked down by Kevin McHugh and while Adam Clarke took his time and alloed the keeper back onto his line, the Harps’ man’s perfectly placed shot beat Ryan into his bottom corner.
The heavy rain that fell in Ballybofey in the lead-up to kick-off left the surface extremely soft and the difficult conditions if anything added to the entertainment.
Harps played well in the first half but Limerick always looked threatening and but for two smart saves with his legs from Rory Kelly, the visitors would have been back in front. The Harps net-minder denied Denis Behan on 13 minutes and just before the half hour, he got his angles right again to save from Rory Gaffney.
Then just before half time, Stephen Bradley’s corner was allowed reach the back post where the ball came off a defender only to be grabbed on the line by a relieved Kelly.
Limerick continued to dominate after half time and twice Kelly made excellent stops from Behan free kicks. But defender Shane Guthrie headed them back in front on 55 minutes following a corner and then from another set-piece situation ten minutes from time, Behan’ header – the referee insisted - just crossed the line to seal the points.
Finn Harps: Rory Kelly, James Doherty, Ciaran Coll, Peter Hutton (Barry O’Mahony 64), Thomas McMonagle, Shaun McGowan, Adam Clarke, Thomas McBride, Tommy Bonnar (Blain Curtis 55), Kevin McHugh, Paul Simon Tracey.
Limerick: David Ryan, Shaun Kelly, Shane Tracey, Shane Guthrie, Corie Tracey, Sean Brosnan (Derek O’Brien 76), Joe Gamble, Stephen Bradley, Garvin Coughlan (Paudie Quinn 65), Denis Behan, Rory Gaffney (Gary Sheehan 89).
Referee: Darren Coombes.