Limerick FC manager Neil McDonald spoke to the press after a huge 2-1 victory over Cork City on Friday night. The delight which came from McDonald’s voice was evident as he praised the team’s work rate and defensive organisation throughout the night. It is something that McDonald has clearly worked on since his arrival with little reward. However, the former Blackpool manager would have felt vindicated after such a significant victory.
“It was vital to keep a clean sheet in the second half which was great. I thought the defenders and the goalkeeper were excellent. Our work rate on trying to stop the ball coming in to the box and trying to stop the flow. They didn’t really flow that much. That was the most pleasing thing.”
The Cork result certainly doesn’t guarantee safety for Limerick as the Shannonsiders are now five points clear of the relegation zone with four games to play. However, McDonald is hoping that the confidence gained from the victory will aid Limerick in the run in against St Pats, Drogheda, Galway and Shamrock Rovers.
“Well it certainly gives us confidence for the run in. The three games previously played against Cork they scored ten goals to our one. So there has been a massive improvement in game management. That gives us confidence moving forward to the cup game, knowing that we have already beaten them once in the league.”
Limerick scored two superb goals as Rodrigo Tosi capitalised on poor defending from former Limerick player Robbie Williams to chip the ball into the net and Shane Tracy buried a free-kick from 25 yards. McDonald was happy with how clinical his side were on the evening.
“We were very clinical in putting the ball into the back of the net. We’ve been criticised in the past for our defending and not being strong enough but we were all of them tonight, certainly in the second half as we were very strong and very organised.”
McDonald reserved special praise for Chiedozie Ogbene, who received the RTE man of the match award on the night. The former Cork player clearly had a point to prove (as he stated in the post match interview) and worked tirelessly all evening. All four Cork bookings came as a result of fouls on the dangerman and McDonald felt Ogbene was pivotal to the win.
“He was fantastic wasn’t he. My only gripe with some people is he tends to be taken down and nothing gets done about it at times. He is being targeted which is only normal because of his ability. He’s improved since I came here. He’s willing to learn which is great. He’s scoring goals and causing havoc for the opposition and long may that continue.”
Chiedozie Ogbene was superb on the night for Limerick and the former Cork man was delighted to emerge victorious over his former employers.
“We were playing a top team and it was a very physical game. You have to dig deep and work hard. Obviously I am happy because my performance impacted the game and we won. I was willing to do anything possible to get the win.”
Ogbene has come in for criticism in recent weeks due to his lack of end product. However, the winger eased the pressure on his defenders all evening by winning free-kicks and holding the ball up as well as taking on the Cork defence whenever the opportunity rose.
“I thought I won some vital free-kicks which eased the pressure on the defence which allowed us to push up the pitch.”
Ogbene won the Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup last season with Cork and made a late substitute appearance in the game. He is clearly looking forward to the possibility of reaching the final at the Aviva Stadium with Limerick.
“We’ll take it day by day. Hopefully, we go down there and work hard again like we did today and we can hopefully get a result down there. It would be great to get to a cup final with a great atmosphere in the Aviva and its a great experience.”
Limerick travel to Turners Cross on Friday night to take on Cork in the Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup Semi-Final with a 7.15 pm kick-off. If Limerick manage to defeat Cork for the second time in a week, it will be the club’s first appearance in an FAI Cup in 35 years, where Limerick defeated Bohemians to lift the trophy.