Limerick FC welcome St. Patrick’s Athletic to the Markets Field on Friday night in the Airtricity League Premier Division (kick-off 7.45).
The Shannonsiders will be aiming to bounce back from last week’s Munster derby defeat against Cork City at Turners Cross while St. Pats will be looking to build on last week’s Dublin derby victory over Shamrock Rovers.
Limerick are currently ninth in the league table having accumulated thirteen points so far. Tommy Barrett’s side took the lead against the Leesiders last weekend through a superbly taken Danny Morrissey scissors kick which took many by surprise. However, Graham Cummins equalised immediately and substitute Josh O’Hanlon rose above Billy Dennehy to powerfully head home the winner.
Limerick made a change to the formation with Will Fitzgerald operating on the left wing outside of a midfield trio of Eoin Wearen, Conor Clifford and Cian Coleman. Captain Shane Duggan was shifted to a right wing role of a 4-3-3 which is alien to the former Cork player. However, in reality, it appeared that Duggan was asked to tuck in as an extra midfielder on every occasion which resulted in a lack of width for the Shannonsiders
Unfortunately for the visitors, Fitzgerald was removed through injury and Karl O’Sullivan struggled throughout. Darren Dennehy was also replaced due to injury and Eoin Wearen and Tony Whitehead struggled to deal with the physical prowess of Cummins.
Despite the defeat, Limerick showed glimpses of quality and should have equalised when Mark O’Sullivan was played through on goal following a mistake from former teammate Alan Bennett but he placed an effort wide of goal. It was another crucial opportunity which the Super Blues could ill afford to miss.
There are injury doubts over Dennehy and Fitzgerald following their early departure last weekend. Also, Conor Ellis is unlikely to feature for another few weeks. Tommy Barrett is confident that Daniel Kearns will return to action in the next week or two. Right-back Shaun Kelly will miss out again with a knee injury.
Barrett says that his team face a tough challenge against St. Pats following their 2-0 victory over Shamrock Rovers.
“It will be a difficult game. They are a really good side. They are coming off the back of a great win against Rovers. They have good players all around the pitch and they play a good brand of football.”
Limerick have only managed to find the net on eight occasions in the league this season but have managed to create more chances as of late. Barrett feels that is down to the return of individual players.
“Yeah I think we have got a few players back. They are good technical players who are able to create chances but we are still conceding goals. We are conceding silly goals and we need to cut that out as well. We have to stop giving away easy chances and make teams work hard for them.”
St. Patrick’s Athletic are currently in sixth place in the league standings and have suffered from inconsistency. Despite some eye catching victories including a 1-0 home win over Waterford United recently, the Saints have also struggled to convert draws to wins as they relinquished a 2 goal lead against Bohemians at Richmond Park in recent weeks.
Manager Liam Buckley is hoping his side can make it two wins in a row at the Markets Field but is expecting a stern test from Limerick. When speaking to the club’s official website, Buckley said;
“We had a narrow win over Limerick in Inchicore a number of weeks ago so we are expecting another tough game. Limerick were good last week in Cork and only narrowly lost so we know they will be strong again this week.”
The visitors will have the luxury of a near full strength side for the trip south with Christy Fagan returning from injury. Owen Garvan will undergo a late fitness test to prove his fitness.
Meetings so far: The sides collided at Richmond Park in March as St. Pats emerged as 1-0 winners thanks to an Ian Bermingham header in the second half. In truth, the margin of victory should have been far greater as James Doona and Ryan Brennan missed great chances for the Inchicore outfit.