WATCH: Shaun Kelly “very happy” to return to Limerick FC for the new season.

Sporting Limerick caught up with Limerick FC right-back Shaun Kelly on Friday morning to discuss his return to the club for the 2018 season after a brief six month spell away. Kelly was surprisingly released by former Limerick manager Neil McDonald in July and the decision did not gain a positive reaction from ardent Limerick FC supporters.

Having signed with the club in 2011 under then manager Pat Scully, Shaun spent the next six years with the Shannonsiders except for a brief spell with Derry City in 2015. The tough tackling right-back admits to being “shocked” at the time but realises football can change very quickly.

“At the time it was a shock. When he said he(Neil McDonald) was taking a more youthful direction, you have to accept it and get on with it.”

Shaun spent the last five months playing for local junior club Ballynanty Rovers and although he is disappointed that he couldn’t play more games for the club, he enjoyed his time at the northside club and was surprised by the standard of some players in the league. he stated;

“It was actually surprising as it was quite a good league and there was some good players in the league. I didn’t play too many games. I really enjoyed it as it kept me ticking over and the club were great to me.”

Limerick are the early bookmakers favourites for relegation and with the upheaval in the squad, it is hardly surprising. Chiedozie Ogbene, Lee-J Lynch, Dave O’Connor, Dean Clarke, Bastien Hery and Rodrigo Tosi have all left since the end of the season. When you add the departures of Robbie Williams, Chris Mulhall, Ian Turner and Paul O’Connor in July, the squad is almost unrecognisable since the beginning of last season only for the longevity of Shane Duggan, Shane Tracy, Tony Whitehead and Brendan Clarke. Kelly believes it will be a tough year but the players are aware of how important it is to stay in the division.

“It’s going to be a tough year especially with the reduction to ten teams. We will be fighting to the last to make sure we stay in this league. I’m confident that we can do it.”

Shaun reserved special praise for new manager Tommy Barrett who he feels has shown great courage to take the job in difficult circumstances. “Tommy has been great and he’s got Willie (Boland) and Joe Gamble with so he’s got a great backroom team with him. I think it’s a great appointment.”

Limerick’s first league game of the season takes place at the Showgrounds in Sligo on Saturday week with a 7.30 pm kick-off. Last season, the club were easily beaten 3-0 by Gerard Lyttle’s side. However, on the opening game of last season at the Markets Field, Limerick beat the Bit O’Red 5-1 which was the beginning of the end for then manager Dave Robertson.

Shaun spoke about the tough challenge ahead, the squad’s preparations and the new league format in more detail in the above video with Sporting Limerick’s Adrian Finnin.

Watch the interview in full on the link below.