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A gorgeous late free kick from a prodigal son rescued a point for Drogheda United

Sean Thornton denied Limerick a win over the 10-man hosts.

Thorton in action against Bray
Thorton in action against Bray
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Drogheda United 1

Limerick 1

MIDFIELDER SEAN THORNTON is a popular man around Drogheda. He’ll be even more so tonight after his late free kick earned 10-man Drogheda United an unlikely point against Limerick at United Park.

A local lad, Thornton returned to his hometown club in the off-season after almost 15 years away in the lower leagues of England and then the less than glamorous surrounds of the Welsh Premier League – a short stint in the Premier League with Sunderland aside.

He’s already a popular figure on the Boyne and his first goal for the club – a stunning free kick effort to rescue a point for his 10-man Drogheda side against Limerick – will live long in the memory.

The Louth men had won four of the previous four league meetings between the sides but with Limerick’s last visit to United Park ending in a 4-1 away win, there may have been an appetite for revenge among the small but loyal midweek home crowd.

There’s been wholesale change in personnel at both clubs since that match ten months ago however. Only five of the 22 who started that game last May took the field for kick-off here.

Early on, both sides exchanged chances as Dean Clarke and Paul O’Conor for Limerick and Daryl Kavanagh and Sean Brennan wasted presentable opportunities.

The breakthrough came on the half hour mark. Referee Ray Matthews, a Premier Division novice more accustomed to taking charge of First Division action, adjuged that Alan Byrne had hauled down ex-Drog O’Conor as he raced in on goal. The red card was brandished and Byrne was off.

Midfielder Ian Turner hammered home the resultant spot kick to hand Martin Russell’s side the lead. However, Drogheda didn’t let the dismissal deter and it was they who had the better chances from then on. Neil Yadolahi and Mick Daly forced Conor O’Donnell into two quickfire saves.

The former UCD stopper could do little about Thornton’s late curler however and in truth, it was a deserved goal and a deserved point for a dogged United.

DROGHEDA UNITED: Micheal Schlingermann, Mick Daly, Alan Byrne, Neil Yadolahi (Mark Hughes, 55), Joe Gorman, Sean Thornton, Stephen Maher, Sean Brennan (Carl Walshe, 84), Jason Marks (Lee Duffy, 72), Cathal Brady, Daryl Kavanagh.

Substitutes: Dylan Connolly, Lloyd Buckley, Mark Hughes, Lee Duffy, Carl Walshe, Shane Dunne, Tiernan Mulvenna.

LIMERICK FC: Conor O’Donnell, Shane Costelloe, Robbie Williams, Aidan Price, Paul O’Conor, Ian Turner, Dean Clarke, Darragh Rainsford, Sean Russell, Tony Whitehead, Jason Hughes (Vinny Faherty, 88).

Substitutes: Tommy Holland, Val Feeney, Ross Mann, Kieran Hanlon, Paudie O’Connor, Vincent Faherty, Conor Maguire.

REFEREE: Ray Matthews (Westmeath)

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