Limerick FC travel to Oriel Park on Friday night where they will face second place Dundalk in the Airtricity League Premier Division (kick-off 7.45).
It has been a tumultuous week for the club since last Friday’s 1-1 draw with Bohemians at the Markets Field. Prior to the commencement of the match, the playing staff were informed that the club may be forced to offload the top earners to provide a more sustainable future. Players were not paid for the month of May but club officials have promised that all staff members will be paid overdue wages very soon.
Limerick goalkeeper Brendan Clarke had been under the impression that Limerick players were allowed to leave immediately. However, it has since transpired that players will be allowed to leave to cut the wage bill once another club shows interest. Limerick FC have not released an official statement although it is clear that meetings took place at Hogan Park on Friday with the PFAI in attendance to discuss the best way forward.
The news comes just over a month after Limerick owner Pat O’Sullivan held a meeting in Limerick to entice new investment for the club. O’Sullivan’s Galtee Fuels business entered voluntary liquidation in May. With a massive drop off in attendances at home games this season, it appears the appetite is not there for senior soccer in the city. The attendances provide much of the revenue for Limerick FC outside of O’Sullivan bankrolling the club for the last ten seasons.
Meanwhile on the pitch, the Shannonsiders put in a great performance considering the circumstances on Friday to earn a 1-1 draw with Bohemians at the Markets Field. The home side took the lead through a Barry Maguire goal midway through the first half and should have been at least another goal ahead following missed chances from Kearns, Maguire and Wearen as the half wore on.
However, the Gypsies improved immeasurably in the second half and denied Tommy Barrett’s men victory with an 86th minute strike from centre-back Dan Casey.
Limerick welcome back Cian Coleman from suspension while Billy Dennehy returns from injury. Striking duo Danny Morrissey and Conor Ellis remain absent along with Darren Dennehy and Henry Cameron who is still on international duty with New Zealand. Karl O’Sullivan is unavailable as he is currently sitting leaving certificate exams.
Manager Tommy Barrett remains upbeat heading into the game despite all of the off-field issues. Speaking to the club’s official website ahead of the game, he said;
“Obviously, it will be a more difficult task on Friday. Dundalk are one of the top teams in the country. They play excellent football; they have good players all over the park. But we have good players as well and we’re playing well at the moment, so we’ll go up there and hopefully put in a performance.”
Despite calling for a positive performance, Barrett knows his side are in for a sterner test than last week’s encounter.
“Of course, it will be tough. They have beaten us 8-0 and 3-0. They’re a very good side – they have players that can score from everywhere. It will be a really difficult task for us.”
Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny has urged his players to respect the opposition and prepare properly for the game. Speaking ahead of the game, Kenny stated;
“From our point of view, players are playing really well at the moment. We want to continue to play in that form. We want to continue the good form that we are in. We absolutely respect Limerick and they have had some good results. They are a good side and we have to ear the right to fight hard and earn the right to win tomorrow night.”
The Lilywhites will be without the services of midfield trio Stephen O’Donnell, Chris Shields and John Moutney. O’Donnell is recovering from a broken leg while Shields is suspended.
Meetings so far: The clubs have faced off on two occasions this season. In the first encounter in Louth in February, it was a dismal night for the Super Blues who suffered an 8-0 hammering against Stephen Kenny’s side. The Lilywhites completed a double over Limerick at the Markets Field in a 0-3 win in April. Goals from John Moutney, Pat Hoban and Michael Duffy sealed the victory.
Referee: Neil Doyle