Limerick FC recovered from a second-minute concession to run out comfortable winners over Limerick DL Premier Division champions Janesboro.
One of three former Limerick senior players in the Janesboro starting lineup handed the underdogs an unlikely early lead.
Under-17 defender Tomás O’Connor, brother of Paudie, failed to deal with John Connery’s right-wing pass, allowing Shane Clarke in to slot the ball past Tommy Holland.
O’Connor versus Clarke was something of a physical mismatch for the relatively diminutive youngster, but it was his central defensive partner who was bested for Janesboro’s next big chance.
When a deep cross from Danny O’Neill somehow evaded the heads of both O’Connor and Shane Costello, Clarke rose above Killian Brouder to head Connery’s resultant byline return wide.
In the ascendancy early on, against a wide-open Limerick eleven featuring only two regular starters, Janesboro eventually began to succumb to their more vaunted opponents.
Struggles in their left-back zone resulted in a long string of right-wing crosses — mostly from the influential Stephen Kenny — that saw strikers Garbhan Coughlan and Chris Mulhall repeatedly tease an equaliser.
Eventually, parity did arrive, but from the other flank, as Ian Turner cut in past O’Neill, and availed of a lack of pressure to deflect a right-footed strike past John Mulready.
Carew Park fielded seven ringers in the same competition last season, but Connery was the only surprise sprung by Aidan Ryan and Shane O’Hanlon here. And the star of Pike Rovers’ Munster Junior Cup win was involved again before the half-hour mark, converting a poor O’Connor clearance into a belting on-target drive.
Kenny turned provider again for Limerick soon after, when Janesboro’s back-four played Mulhall onside from the winger’s delightful reverse through-pass. Mulready rushed off his line to smother Mulhall’s resultant effort.
Concerted pressure eventually told for Limerick just before the break, when Sean McSweeney’s through-ball, down the inside-left, resulted in Coughlan rounding Mulready. Mulhall tapped into an empty net from his strike partner’s square-pass.
Both sides rang the changes at half-time, with Joel Coulstrain — recently released by Raith Rovers — among those making their bows for Limerick. But, it was a Janesboro substitute that made an immediate impact, as unmarked left-back Ben Quirke turned in Connery’s byline cross.
Janesboro weren’t level for long, however. Lee O’Mara cleared a Mulhall effort off the line to momentarily hold back the tide, but the striker was soon taken out in the box by Janesboro’s replacement goalkeeper Stephen McNamara. Mulhall himself did the business from 12 yards to restore Limerick’s lead.
And Limerick doubled their advantage just two minutes later, when Kenny returned a half-cleared corner back into the box from the right-flank. The ball bounced off an unfortunate Clarke, allowing substitute central midfielder Clyde O’Connell to smash the ball home.
Janesboro’s second-half capitulation worsened in the 65th minute, when former Aisling Annacotty striker Adam Foley popped in a rebound, after a wonderful Liam McCartan dribble produced an effort on goal that McNamara repelled.
McNamara was soon called upon again, to prevent Foley from depositing a through-ball down the middle, but the former Ballynanty Rovers goalkeeper could do nothing about Limerick’s imminent sixth goal.
Another substitute, Karl O’Sullivan, made an immediate impact upon his arrival on the Markets Field turf, by dribbling through the middle, and playing in Foley on the left of the Janesboro area.
Foley’s resultant pull-back, along the edge of the six-yard box, was deftly flicked in by an unmarked Coughlan. Coughlan, whose through-ball also instigated Robert Hennessey’s decisive penalty award, deserved a goal for an always-craftful performance.
With the changes continuing to ring, Janesboro fell further behind late on, when a fantastic lofted through-pass from the impressive under-19 O’Sullivan was converted into a seventh goal by the game’s standout performer Coughlan.
Foley completed a double of his own in the final minute, rounding O’Mara to finish past McNamara. And the striker could have had a third too, in injury-time, when McNamara pushed his powerful left-footed strike onto the woodwork.
Turner 14′, Mulhall 39′, 53′ (pen), O’Connell 55′, Foley 66′, 90′, Coughlan 77′, 87′; S. Clarke 2′, Quirke 49′
Man of the Match