Attention Turns to FAI Cup for struggling Blues

Limerick FC will be looking to put a desperate month behind them as they travel to face non-league Cobh Wanderers in the FAI Cup this weekend. Tommy Barrett’s men enter the tie off the back of four consecutive defeats.

Last weekend, Limerick were heavily beaten by Cabinteely 3-0 in Dublin. Two first half goals from Rob Manley, followed by a goal from Keith Dalton ended any chance of a playoff push in the remaining four games.

Tomas O’Connor was sent off in the 52nd minute and a suspension will provide the management team will another headache with the lack of squad depth.

Despite starting with plenty of promise, the month of July has ended any hopes that the Super Blues had of sneaking into a playoff place.

A 1-0 loss to Bray was followed by a 4-1 reverse against Drogheda and another 4-3 defeat at home to Cobh.

The concession of 11 goals in their last three games is very unlike the Limerick team that Barrett has built this year.

Eventually, the constant departure of players and problems off the field have caught up with the club, as we always feared it would.

Sean McSweeney has moved to the United States and will be another big loss for Barrett but the most disappointing transfer will have been Ger Barry’s defection to Fairview Rangers.

Although Barry will now get the opportunity to play on a regular basis which one would assume is the main reason for the move, he is a player that Barrett could have utilised in the final five games as the already threadbare squad becomes smaller by the week.

Limerick could only name four outfield players on the substitutes bench last weekend and it is a terrible indictment on senior soccer in the city when players are now leaving to drop down to local junior soccer as it is becoming more lucrative.

Unfortunately, with the current state of operations, it may become the norm unless there is a change in the club’s fortunes.

Recent recruit Clyde O’Connell also picked up a nasty injury during the game and it looks as though his season may be over which is a bitter blow, considering the impact he made since his arrival which was evident in the recent second half fightback against Cobh.

Over the past two decades, Limerick FC’s performances in the FAI Cup have been relatively poor although just two seasons ago, the Shannonsiders were narrowly beaten in a semi-final against Cork City at Turners Cross, albeit it was the clubs first appearance at that stage of the competition in 23 years.

In 2015, a Martin Russell managed Limerick side met Cobh Wanderers in the Munster Senior Cup quarter final at the University of Limerick.

Cobh provided a stern test, leading 1-0 for much of the game before a late Garbhan Coughlan goal levelled the tie and brought it to extra time. The First Division club eventually ran out 3-1 victors.

19 February 2019; Ger Barry during Limerick FC squad portraits at Hogan Park in Limerick. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

With falling attendances and a general sense of doom surrounding the Markets Field, it is hard to know what the future will hold for the club outside of the last four games. Even the senior players are beginning to look drained from the experience this season.

On some level, it feels like only yesterday that we were conducting interviews ahead of the new season, but on the other hand it feels like one of the longest in living memory, despite being just over five months old.

The late 1990’s and early noughties was a low point for the club with little interest in on field activities. An influx of players from the junior ranks in 2005 lifted spirits and there was a sense of optimism which eventually led to promotion.

However, it appears as if the club are right back to the days of 2001, where next year a whole new squad would have to be recruited, as it is hard to see many sticking around in its current form.

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