McCabe 60-yard lob proves vital in Sligo victory as Limerick continue to struggle

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Rhys McCabe (file pic)

A moment of magic from Rhys McCabe saw Sligo Rovers claim victory in this early-season six-pointer.

McCabe lobbed stopper Brendan Clarke from 60 yards before the sides exchanged late goals – cancelling each other out.

Neither of these sides will have been happy with their start to the season and something had to give in this six-pointer at the Markets Field.

Limerick hadn’t scored in their previous five games, while Sligo hadn’t netted in their previous three league games. Only Bray Wanderers have conceded more times than the Blues in the Premier Division to date, while Sligo hadn’t kept a clean sheet in this Premier Division campaign.

The Blues welcomed back Mark O’Sullivan last week, and partnered him with Danny Morrissey for the first time this season – opting for a 3-5-2 formation.

Ger Lyttle reacted to last week’s poor performance by making five changes to his Bit O’Red XI. Micheal Schlingermann, Calum Waters, Caolan McAleer, Greg Moorhouse and Alistair Roy all made way.

Sligo have lost five league games at home so far – more than in their previous two campaigns combined, and were looking to ease the pressure at the Markets Field.

Adam Morgan had scored as many goals as Limerick had going into this one, so it was no surprise to see him land the first chance. Brendan Clarke was equal to his low drive, though.

Conor Clifford went straight into a Limerick side lacking creativity. The former underage Chelsea star had received a worldwide ban from football for six months, which expired last week. He didn’t miss a step in the early stages and will surely improve the Blues going forward.

Shane Duggan flashed two efforts just wide of Mitchell Beeney’s goal, but their lack of a final ball still hurt them.

The lack of clear-cut chances was a testament to the sides’ goal-shy nature in recent times and it was always going to take something special to break the deadlock that remained firmly in place at half-time.

That something special arrived just shy of the hour mark, courtesy of Rhys McCabe.

Sligo won a free-kick in their own half with seemingly little danger to Limerick present. However, McCabe spotted Blues stopper Brendan Clarke off his line.

From here, McCabe struck the ball what must have been 60 yards – and it found the net, much to the amazement of his team-mates and the fury of his opponents.

Limerick players surrounded referee Ben Connolly – arguing that the ball was rolling when it was stuck. He waved away the protests and Sligo led.

As the Blues chased the game, Greg Moorhouse capitalised on depleted defensive ranks to drill his effort into bottom corner before former Sligo winger Daniel Kearns pulled one back for the home side.

It wasn’t enough for Limerick though, as they’re now in the sights of a newly-replenished Bray Wanderers side in the battle to avoid the drop.

Limerick: Brendan Clarke; Kilian Cantwell, Tony Whitehead (Daniel Kearns, 63), Darren Dennehy; Shaun Kelly, Cian Coleman (Will Fitzgerald, 63), Conor Clifford, Billy Dennehy; Shane Duggan; Mark O’Sullivan, Danny Morrissey (Connor Ellis, 81).

Sligo: Mitchell Beeney; Gary Boylan, Kyle Callan-McFadden, Patrick McClean, Regan Donelon (Calum Waters, 86); David Cawley, Jack Keaney, Eduardo Pinceli (Caolan McAleer, 63); Rhys McCabe, Adam Morgan, Raffaele Cretaro (Greg Moorhouse, 76).

Referee: Ben Connolly (Dublin).

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