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Dennehy header hands Limerick the perfect start in Sligo

The defender was the match-winner at the Showgrounds.

Dennehy was on the mark for his new club (file pic).
Dennehy was on the mark for his new club (file pic).
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Sligo Rovers 0

Limerick 1

Jessica Farry reports from the Showgrounds 

LIMERICK GOT THEIR 2018 season off to the perfect start with a 1-0 victory over Sligo Rovers at the Showgrounds tonight.

Darren Dennehy’s second-half goal was enough to inflict defeat on Sligo, who were also defeated by the Blues on the opening day of the 2017 season.

Both sides come into this season as unknown entities to some extent. The hosts have changed their squad significantly over the off-season. The Blues are similar, but they have also had to deal with a managerial change just weeks before the season started, as Neil McDonald departed the Shannonsiders with Tommy Barrett taking over.

Limerick annihilated Sligo Rovers 5-1 on the opening day last year, signalling the beginning of a relegation battle for the Bit O’Red.

Just three Rovers players that started that infamous defeat were named in the starting XI for this season’s opener, with the visitors also starting with just three players who started in 2017. Daniel Kearns, making his competitive debut for the Blues, started that game in the red and white of Sligo.

Gerard Lyttle’s side had the best of the first half chances, and should have taken the lead when Rhys McCabe’s ball from the right was just missed in front of goal by Adam Morgan.

Alistair Roy, on loan from Hearts, should have done better when Caolan McAleer’s cross fell to his feet, but he just couldn’t control it in time. The Scot had another opportunity to open the scoring, but his shot from distance went just wide, before a decent Morgan shot was well saved by Brendan Clarke.

Brazilian Eduardo Pinceli missed a gilt-edged opportunity to give the Bit O’Red the lead when he got a flicked header on the end of a McCabe free, but watched on in anguish as it just trickled wide of Clarke’s post.

The visitors weren’t all that far off opening the scoring themselves and they would have done so if it wasn’t for the alert Michael Schlingermann who blocked his former team-mate Kearns who looked like he was going to come back to haunt his club.

Rovers came close from set-pieces where they were troubling their opponents, but it was the visitors who made the best of their chances, taking the lead with an hour gone.

After applying a bit of pressure on the Bit O’Red defence, Duggan fought off McCabe to put an inch-perfect cross on to the head of Dennehy, who nodded past Schlingermann to give his side the lead.

The visitors piled the pressure on the Rovers rearguard after taking the lead, and they should have doubled their lead after some horror defending from the Bit O’Red allowed Kearns time to shoot at goal, but Schlingermann pulled off another brilliant save to save his side’s blushes.

The Mayo man was again at the centre of the action in the dying seconds, as substitute William Fitzgerald was through on goal but as he edged closer to the ‘keeper, all he could do was tuck the ball under him, allowing Schlingermann to snuff out the danger.

Sligo Rovers: Micheal Schlingermann, Craig Roddan (Jack Keaney, 82), Kyle Callan-McFadden, Seamus Sharkey, Gary Boylan, Alistair Roy, David Cawley, Rhys McCabe (Greg Moorhouse, 74), Eduardo Pinceli, Caolan McAleer (Adam Wixted, 65), Adam Morgan.

Subs: Ed McGinty, Raffaele Cretaro, Lewis Morrison.

Limerick: Brendan Clarke, Shaun Kelly, Tony Whitehead, Darren Dennehy, Shane Tracy, Eoin Wearen (Kilian Cantwell, 68), Cian Coleman, Billy Dennehy, Daniel Kearns (William Fitzgerald, 90+1), Shane Duggan, Mark O’Sullivan (Danny Morrissey, 86).

Subs: Freddy Hall, Colm Walsh-O’Loughlin, Karl O’Sullivan, Clyde O’Connell.

Referee: Tomas Connolly

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Jessica Farry

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