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Sensational Duggan equaliser in stoppage time earns Limerick decisive draw in Inchicore

The draw means Limerick remain two points above St Pat’s as the relegation battle in the Premier Division intensifies.

Shane Duggan scored a 94th minute leveller in Richmond Park.
Shane Duggan scored a 94th minute leveller in Richmond Park.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Updated at 11.00

St Patrick’s Athletic 2

Limerick 2

Aaron Gallagher reports from Richmond Park

A DRAMATIC SHANE Duggan equaliser in the final minute of stoppage time earned Limerick a point in a pulsating draw in Richmond Park against St Pat’s which only further intensifies the relegation battle at the bottom of the Premier Division.

The draw leaves Neil McDonald’s side two points above the Saints with three games remaining, with Duggan’s strike — the last kick of the game in an enthralling matchup — breaking hearts in Inchicore as Liam Buckley’s side looked to have sealed the three points.

Both sides came into Saturday’s game with the threat of relegation hanging menacingly over them, St Pat’s to a much more significant extent sitting just two points above the bottom three before kick-off, with Limerick in the relative safety of seventh another two points ahead of their opponents.

They entered the game on the back of an FAI Cup semi-final defeat to Cork City at Turner’s Cross. While definitive, the loss showcased the level of football boss McDonald had instilled in recent months at the Markets Field.

The visitors knew their safety was more assured than that of their adversaries in Inchicore, however the game still billed itself up as a relegation six pointer regardless, with the Blues knowing a defeat would inch them significantly closer towards the drop.

In an expansive game of end-to-end action which offered efforts on goal at a relentless pace, St Pat’s created more opportunities while Limerick looked the more composed when forcing the Saints back into their own half in the opening 45 minutes.

Chiedozie Ogbene looked a constant, menacing threat with pace and quick feat throughout. He compounded a difficult evening’s work for right-back Graham Kelly when he gave Limerick the lead with a stunning effort from range.

Paul O'Connor and Dean Clarke Paul O'Connor and Dean Clarke compete for possession. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Ogbene took down an aimless ball targeted along the left wing, before leaving Kelly in his wake bearing down on goal.

The winger took one touch to compose himself, while his second swung the ball goalbound, off the underside of the crossbar and over the goal-line — with striker Rodrigo Tosi making sure of it, with Limerick now a goal to the good.

The visiting contingent of supporters were now rocking in fine voice. With their deflating record at Richmond Park rearing its ugly head once again, St Pat’s heads looked like potentially dropping as the threat of another loss at home loomed on the horizon.

Their worry was only momentary however, as St Pat’s took the game to Limerick immediately after going behind and were rewarded with a goal no less than a minute later.

A stunning combination of passes up the length of the pitch was witnessed, as Conan Byrne provided the penultimate piece of the jigsaw before ex-Limerick man Paul O’Conor tapped the ball home from close range to make it 1-1.

Richmond Park was in raptures before the volume was raised a second time at the sound of referee Derek Tomney’s half-time whistle seconds later, as Buckley’s side entered the interval buoyed and rocking with a renewed sense of confidence.

The second half saw a return to form as both sides battled at both ends — Byrne and Billy Dennehy imposing themselves at one end while Tosi and Ogbene threatened on the break at the other in a game of constant intensity from the first whistle.

Billy Dennehy reacts to a missed chance Billy Dennehy frustrated during his side's 1-1 draw in Inchicore. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

However Limerick’s stake in the game only faded as chance, after chance came begging at Brendan Clarke’s goalmouth — Billy Dennehy’s effort on the edge of the area skipping inches wide of the post the closest of the lot.

Conan Byrne had worked tirelessly throughout both halves and was rewarded with a goal as the game entered the melting pot 20 minutes from time. Kelly fed the ball to his team-mate along the right wing, before Byrne cut inside.

Unlike repeated attempts to see the ball shot, deflected or by any mean’s turned into the Limerick goal after an hour of trying, this time Byrne’s low cross-come-shot was successful.

Bearing down on goal the 32-year-old aimed an effort towards goal, which with a portion of help from a Limerick boot saw it fly past Clarke and in.

The chance for Limerick to draw the scores level seemed to have passed when Tosi powered an effort marginally wide of the top corner.

This before a final chance at the death saw Duggan strike a stunning effort on the edge of the box flying beyond goalkeeper Lukasz Skowron and into the top corner to make it 2-2.

ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC: Lukasz Skowron; Graham Kelly, Jordi Balk, Lee Desmond, Ian Bermingham; Owen Garvan, Paul O’Conor (Darragh Markey 82), Killian Brennan; Conan Byrne (Ian Turner 88), Billy Dennehy, Christy Fagan (Kurtis Byrne 83)

LIMERICK: Brendan Clarke; David O’Connor, Tony Whitehead, Stephen Kenny (Barry Cotter 45), Shane Tracy; Lee J Lynch, Shane Duggan, Bastien Hery; Dean Clarke (Joe Crowe 65), Chiedozie Ogbene, Rodrigo Tosi

Referee: Derek Tomney

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Aaron Gallagher

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