by Robert O'Reilly
Drogheda United have fallen ten points off the summit of the First Division after they lost 3-0 to league leaders Limerick at United Park.
Paul O’Conor gave the visitors a half-time lead before second-half strikes from John O’Flynn and Lee Lynch sealed Limerick’s sixth straight win at the start of the season.
Drogheda United manager Pete Mahon named an unchanged side from the one that defeated Cabinteely 4-0 last week and they had the first shot of the game as Adam Wixted fired over from all of 30 yards.
Drogheda looked the more likely to break the deadlock in the opening exchanges and they should have taken the lead midway through the first half as Eoin Kirwan picked out the run of Jake Hyland whose cross found Sam O’Connor 12 yards out and his first time strike was blocked on the line by Robbie Williams with his follow-up header off target.
Against the run of play, Limerick took the lead. Aaron Greene got the better of Colm Deasy down the left and his ball into the box was met by O’Conor but his first time shot was brilliantly saved by Stephen McGuinness only for the ball come straight back into the box with O’Conor out jumping Luke Gallagher to head the ball into the bottom corner.
United were second best from that point onwards as Limerick doubled their lead early in the second half as O’Flynn’s initial strike ran across the face of the goal but with no one to clear, Stephen Kenny picked the ball on the right and dribbled beyond Stephen Dunne before picking out O’Flynn a couple of yards out who made no mistake this time.
The game was over as a contest on 68 minutes as in Drogheda’s attempt to play out from the back, Deasy was caught in possession by Greene and Limerick eventually worked the ball to Lynch who advanced to the edge of the box unchallenged before drilling the ball into the bottom corner past the outstretched McGuinness.
The hosts squandered several chances to pull a goal back late on with the best two opportunities falling the way of Hyland and Sean Brennan. Firstly, Drogheda overloaded the right hand side as Brennan slipped substitute Liam Donnelly through on goal and his cross was met by the head of Hyland who couldn’t keep his effort down with Freddy Hall stranded in goal and then with virtually the last kick of the game, Brennan fired well wide from the edge of the box with only Hall to beat.
A disappointing result for the Drogs who will wonder what might have happened had they scored the opener when they were on top but in the end Limerick ran out worthy winners. Drogheda will complete the first round of fixtures away to UCD next Friday.
Eoin Kirwan (Derek Doyle 74)
Adam Wixted (Aaron Ashe 77)
Sam O’Connor (Liam Donnelly 74)
Seamus Sharkey (Shaun Kelly 65)
Stephen Kenny (Chris Mulhall 67)