Bray Wanderers 0 Limerick FC 1 (O’Conor 4)
Premier Division, Carlisle Grounds, 25 March 2017
Paul O’Conor’s early strike effectively ended the contest, despite some home attempts to resist. The work of Limerick’s Chiedozie Ogbene managed to keep a lot of Dylan Connolly’s efforts contained. In the end, neither side managed to threaten and O’Conor’s goal remained the difference between the sides.
The game was barely three minutes old when Tommy Robson’s long ball found Rodrigo Tosi in the middle of the forward area, but attended by the Bray defence. The Brazilian striker, however, was able to offload with a backheel, and the waiting O’Conor volleyed unhesitatingly past Peter Cherrie to his right.
Tosi himself saw his snap attempt two minutes later deflected very slightly by the head of Tim Clancy, but it was never truly on target. Just inside the quarter hour, Brendan Clarke claimed low at the feet of Anto Flood following an inviting cross from Aaron Greene, and Dylan Connolly’s first effort flew narrowly high after he had robbed possession and was inadvertently assisted by Referee Ray Matthews impeding Shane Duggan.
Chiedozie Ogbene was proving a handful for the Bray midfield chasing the long balls that were a feature of the game on both sides, but his success in keeping some of them in play wasn’t matched by his attacking colleagues.
Midway through, Conor Kenna was warned after conceding a free in a dangerous position. Robbie Williams’s set-piece took the slightest of glances off a head in the Bray wall and then rebounded off Cherrie’s crossbar, a major let-off for the Seagulls. Just before the half hour, Connolly’s next attempt was a little higher off the target than his first.
Minutes later, following good interplay between himself and Connolly, Flood scuffed his final ball and clarke had no trouble gathering. From Limerick’s next attack, a miscalculated back-pass from Kenna had Cherrie racing back to prevent an own goal, and in first half injury time, Connolly skewed a third shot left and high.
Within three minutes of the restart, Williams had shot wildly off target from a 30m free, and Clarke did well minutes after that when claiming a Gary McCabe free generic to synthroid from the edge of the area. A string of Limerick throws deep in Bray’s ;left-hand corner produced nothing, but by this stage it was evident that the visitors were preparted to play to hold their advantage, and they produced little creativity thereafter.
But then, neither did the hosts, Douglas’s caution for a foul on Lee J Lynch just on the hour seeming a little harsh. Good cooperation between Lynch and Ian Turner offered Duggan a chance, but he shot straight to the arms of Cherrie. The introduction of Ryan Brennan soon after that seemed for a time likely to invigorate the Bray attack, but he headed owide from John Sullivan’s cross within minutes and shot high when the ball came to him in the pinball game that followed a Conor Earley corner.
With scarcely ten minutes left, Kenna tried a low shot following a Brennan corner conceded by Limerick sub David O’Connor on the far side, but failed to find the net. And Brennan came close with a free left of centre when Connolly was fouled, but when Clarke handled Jamie Aherne’s snap shot in the final minute of regulation time, one felt the die was cast.
There was still time for Cherrie to make a dramatic leap to claim single-handed a Stephen Kenny cross that wasn’t going anywhere useful, and for Bray to fail to make a free deep in the right-hand corner count for anything.
Report Mícheál Ó hUanacháin
Bray Wanderers: 1 Peter Cherrie; 2 Hugh Douglas , 4 Conor Kenna (c), 21 Tim Clancy, 12 Conor Earley; 3 John Sullivan, 8 Mark Salmon; 16 Dylan Connolly, 9 Aaron Greene, 11 Gary McCabe; 20 Anthony Flood
Limeric FCk: 26 Brendan Clarke; 2 Shaun Kelly, 15 Tony Whitehead, 3 Robbie Williams , 19 Thomas Robson; 8 Shane Duggan (c), 6 Paul O’Conor ; 14 Ian Turner, 7 Lee J Lynch, 21 Chiedozie Ogbene; 10 Rodrigo Tosi