Limerick FC aim to consolidate league position with victory against St. Pats.

Limerick FC make the trip up the M7 to the capital to face St. Patrick’s Athletic in Richmond Park in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division on Friday night (kick-off 7.45 pm). One place and one point currently separates the sides in the league table although Limerick have played a game extra.

The extra game was on Monday night as Tommy Barrett’s men were narrowly defeated 0-1 by Shamrock Rovers at the Markets Field. Shaun Kelly fouled Ronan Finn on the 75th minute and Graham Burke smashed the resulting spot-kick into the net.

St. Patricks Athletic’s fixture with Sligo Rovers, due to take place at Richmond Park, was postponed due to the poor weather conditions to the East of the country earlier in the week. Noticeably, Saints manager Liam Buckley and assistant Ger O’Brien were in attendance to scout the Shannonsiders on Monday evening before the big game.

Limerick put in another committed home display against their more illustrious opponents on Monday. Killian Cantwell and Cian Coleman were full of energy for the home side and they managed to contain both Ronan Finn and Graham Burke for large periods of the game. The use of Cantwell, who is naturally a centre-back, in the midfield role has proved to be very positive for Barrett.

It is easy to forget that the Limerick management team were missing eight players for the game, six of which are probable starters on any given week. Henry Cameron failed to impress upon selection on the wing. However, on a bright note, opposite winger Will Fitzgerald was heavily involved including possessing a Rory Delap style long throw which was utilised by Limerick on several occasions. Also, centre-back Killian Brouder made his first appearance of the campaign due to Darren Dennehy’s late withdrawal. Partnered by Tony Whitehead, the academy graduate dealt with the threat posed by the physical Gary Shaw.

With such a small squad, injuries are tormenting Tommy Barrett at the moment. However, he is expecting both Barry Maguire and Darren Dennehy to be available for selection on Friday evening following slight knocks.

“Barry Maguire trained today. We have Darren Dennehy back so if we can get Darren and Barry back we will be happy enough. Conor Ellis is struggling at the moment. We are struggling in that area at the moment.”

The Limerick manager spoke to the club’s official website after training and mentioned that Cian Coleman, Billy Dennehy and Will Fitzgerald were carrying knocks from Monday night but he is hoping all players will be passed fit to feature.

When asked about the opposition, Barrett stated,

“They are a very good side. They have technically very good players who like to play good football and they seem to have tightened up at the back a bit this year. It will be a very difficult task for us but every game is going to be difficult for us.”

Former Limerick FC players Dean Clarke and Ian Turner will both feature for St. Pats on Friday evening. Clarke has started on the left wing on a number of occasions and scored the winner away to Bohemians a fortnight ago. Turner has made four appearances from the substitutes bench along with one start against former club Cork City on the opening day.

St. Pats have had a mixed start to the 2018 season. There was a lot of hype surrounding the club’s aspirations for the new season despite only confirming premier division survival on the final day of last season. There is no doubting the quality in the side with Simon Madden and Ian Bermingham being two of the best full-back options in the league.

Although Christy Fagan has struggled to hit the heights of previous years since his injury hit 2017 campaign, he has the ability to score if any chance is provided. Limerick supporters will be aware of the threat posed by the experienced Conan Byrne but the introduction of Billy Dennehy to left-back will hopefully result in an uncomfortable night for his former teammate.

Midfielder Owen Garvan was a standout addition for the Inchicore outfit in July. However, if Limerick’s midfield trio of Coleman, Cantwell and Duggan can re-produce the tenacity shown so far, Garvan and Ryan Brennan will have to be at their best. It is likely that Killian Brennan and Thomas Byrne will miss out once again through injury despite returning to training which is a huge plus for the visitors.

Saints manager Liam Buckley is aware of the challenge facing his players on Friday night. Speaking to stpatsfc.com on the eve of the game, Buckley said

“Limerick have made a steady start to the league. They have had some very impressive results, including a draw against Cork City only last week. We know they have several experienced players in their ranks including a few who have played with ourselves so we will face a tough game on Friday night.”

2017 Meetings:
7 April 2017: St. Patricks Athletic 0-2 Limerick FC

24 June 2017: Limerick FC 2-2 St. Patricks Athletic

7 October 2017: St. Patrick’s Athletic 2-2 Limerick