Under-19s pay price for poor defending
'Can we play?' shouted Youths manager Billy Molloy as he watched on from the technical area in Ferrycarrig Park. The answer by Wexford Youths to his question during the SSE Airtricity Under-19 league game on Saturday was a resounding 'no'.
Limerick 5 Wexford Youths 2
Wexford, who have now conceded 31 goals in just nine games, were left to rue a lack of defensive organisation again, coupled with a myriad of unnecessary errors in their own half.
The story, however, could have been so different had Dean George's 14th-minute effort which came rebounding back off the woodwork found the net.
Limerick, who had started well but were alerted by the home side's near miss, broke immediately. Ross Mann made his way into the penalty area before being brought down under a challenge from defender Glen Pullen. Aiden Hynes guessed the right way but couldn't get anything on Yousef Mahdy's superb spot kick into the top left corner.
The Munster side's lead was doubled five minutes later when Val Feeney found Mann with a through ball, and the dangerous striker slotted calmly past the advancing Hynes.
Just after the half hour mark the home side had a quick flourish. George's shot was blocked moments before Daryl Power send an effort wide from 20 yards. But defensive mistakes were costing the home side dear and Limerick should have punished them sooner than they did.
Ryan Delaney was caught napping inside his own final third and some more criminal defending, this time from the central back pairing, gifted Feeney with an opportunity which he sent straight at Hynes.
Limerick did add to Youths' misery just before the half-time whistle. Shane Lowth played a ball in behind Wexford's defence into the path of Mann. Mann cut in and delivered it into the six-yard box which deflected off the shin of Youths defender Conor Sutton and past Hynes.
If there was any chance of a comeback, it was gone within three minutes of the re-start. Mann got on the end of a long ball before coolly chipping over the Wexford goalkeeper.
The fourth goal not only killed the game off but it killed the tempo too. Chances were few and far between for either side, until the final ten minutes when the game came to life again.
Wexford scored two goals in quick succession in the 82nd and 88th minutes.
First, Davy Doyle's shot from just outside the box was spilled into the path of Sutton who fired into the empty net. Wexford then added a second when Jessy Farrell and Eoin Donnelly linked up before feeding Power who thumped his strike into the top corner.
The match ended in fitting fashion with Mann securing his hat-trick. The impressive forward beat his marker before placing a shot with the outside of his foot into the top right corner past substitute 'keeper Dylan Furlong.
Limerick: Carl Williams, Shane Lowth, Alan Murphy, Paudie O'Connor (capt.), Killian Brouder, Ross Fitzgerald, Oisín Kelly, Val Feeney, Yousef Mahdy, Ross Mann, Evan Cusack. Subs. - Ronan Kerin for Cusack (55), Dennis Haverty for Mahdy (55), Liam McCartan for Murphy (60), Seán McSweeney for Kelly (69), Declan Cusack for Fitzgerald (69), also Evan O'Connor, Clyde O'Connell.
Wexford Youths: Aiden Hynes, Ryan Delaney, Glen Pullen (capt.), Conor Sutton, Neil Murphy, Conor Maher, Darren Dempsey, Paul Brennan, Eoin Donnelly, Dean George, Davy Doyle. Subs. - Darryl Power for Brennan, inj. (19), Andrew Wall for Dempsey (60), Jessy Farrell for Pullen (60), Dylan Furlong for Hynes (60), Ivan Meegan for Murphy (74), also Adam Barnes, Adam Doyle.
Referee: Patrick O'Connor (Kilkenny).