Limerick FC welcome Waterford FC to the Markets Field on Friday night as both clubs are filled with differing motivations in their quest for victory (kick-off 7.45).
Limerick are battling hard to avoid both the automatic relegation place and the promotion/relegation playoff place while Waterford are chasing European football for the first time in many years upon their return to the premier division. Both clubs will be looking to bounce back from narrow defeats last week with Limerick losing 2-1 to St. Patrick’s Athletic while Waterford lost to European rivals Shamrock Rovers 0-1 at the RSC.
The Shannonsiders were certainly unlucky to come away with a defeat at Richmond Park having taken the lead through a Billy Dennehy penalty. However, St. Pats upped the tempo in the second half and substitute Conan Byrne scored a quickfire double to put the Inchicore outfit ahead. The drama did not end as Will Fitzgerald had a last minute goal wrongly ruled out for offside. Manager Tommy Barrett was frustrated after the game. Speaking to the club’s official website, the former Fairview strike said,
“It was frustrating last week. You have got to go 2-0 up when you’re in that position. We have a young team and they found it tough in the second half, the pace of the game and the physicality of it – they’re not used to the hits. Will’s goal was definitely onside, I don’t know how it was missed.”
Despite the unfortunate nature of the defeat, Limerick are now seven points behind Bohemians in eight place after the Gypsies enjoyed an emphatic 6-0 victory over basement club Bray Wanderers. With only ten games remaining in the league season, it appears to be a big challenge for the Super Blues to escape either relegation places.
Although the team are in a tough position, Barrett has been exceptionally pleased with the effort from the squad.
“But the boys have been excellent. I can’t complain. They are all doing their jobs and playing for each other. “We’re playing very well, we’re just not getting the bounce of the ball at the moment, but hopefully that will change soon.”
Speaking about Friday night’s opponents, Barrett is fully aware of how tough the challenge will be for his small squad against illustrious and proven players in the Airtricity League.
“Waterford will be a very tough game. The last time, down there, we started great and they started poor. They also had a man sent off early which didn’t help them. It will be difficult for us. They’re a good side, they’ve got a good squad – they can take players off the bench, and they can rest players. We don’t have that.”
Limerick midfielder Cian Coleman returns from suspension for the game while Eoin Wearen is doubtful as he continually battles a knee complaint. Limerick’s midfield trio of Shane Duggan, Darren Murphy and Barry Maguire impressed on the television cameras last week with a relentless pressing game which only stopped once the 70th minute mark was reached due to fitness issues. Coleman will only add to the energetic nature of last week’s midfield formation.
Wingers Karl O’Sullivan and Will Fitzgerald also impressed for large periods as they were intent on taking on their direct opponents and created most of the Shannonsiders best moments during the game. O’Sullivan’s ability to glide past opposition players at ease is very impressive for a recent academy graduate and could pose a potential threat to the visitors on Friday.
For the majority of the game, the back four of Killian Cantwell, Wearen, Killian Brouder and Billy Dennehy were solid until the team lost their shape in the second period. Goalkeeper Tommy Holland pulled off some great saves to keep his team in the game. Fitness permitting, Barrett may make just once change with Cian Coleman likely to replace Darren Murphy in midfield.
Limerick and Waterford have met on two occasions so far in 2018. In March, the Suirsiders visited the Markets Field and left with a convincing 0-2 win thanks to goals from Courtney Duffus and captain Paul Keegan. However, Limerick enacted revenge in May at the RSC as they ran out 3-6 winners with five different goal scorers.