Limerick FC travel to Richmond Park in Dublin on Friday night to face St. Patrick’s Athletic in the Airtricity League (kick-off 8pm). Focus will quickly turn to the relegation scrap following a turbulent time for the players, club officials and supporters this week. Furthermore, the crucial match will be live on Eir Sport.
Limerick FC players followed the action taken by fellow players at Bray Wanderers in threatening strike action due to the lack of guaranteed wages for the remainder of the season. As it transpires, the playing staff were owed wages since July 6th and not June 1st as originally reported. However, as of Tuesday, all players were paid all monies due.
It is clear that if the situation occurs again, Limerick players are prepared to go on strike following Tuesday’s ballot. With wages due to be paid in two weeks time, it remains to be seen whether the hierarchy can raise the funds to avoid such a disastrous situation. Operations manager Kieran Judge spoke to local radio station Limerick’s Live 95FM this week and is confident that the club can fulfil its obligations on the next occasion.
Judge re-iterated his belief that the full-time football model is not an option on Shannonside and also feels that the club badly needs a fresh impetus to help it’s survival chances.
Unfortunately, results on the pitch mean that gate receipts are way down on 2017 and 2016 figures, even though the club were in the first division in 2016. Optimism surrounding the club upon the return to the Markets Field in 2015 has quickly dwindled.
One thing is certain, to enable survival or success in the future, Limerick FC need to be competing in the premier division which makes Friday’s game a crucial one. St Patrick’s Athletic are hot favourites to emerge victorious although Derry City struggled to beat a committed Super Blues 11 despite having the same favourites tag two weeks ago. There is plenty of commitment in the side with the likes of Billy Dennehy and Shane Duggan leading from the front.
Limerick manager Tommy Barrett will be without energetic midfielder Cian Coleman which is a massive blow considering the former Cobh man’s contribution this season. Eoin Wearen is also a doubt with a knee injury. Former Limerick players Brendan Clarke and Conor Clifford will line out for the Saints against the club just three weeks after departing due to a necessary reduction in costs.
It is a massive night at the bottom of the Airtricity League Premier Division. With Cork, Derry, Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers all in European action, attention switches to the basement battle. Bohemians and Bray Wanderers is the other feature game on Friday. Limerick are currently six points clear of bottom side Bray and four points adrift of eight place Bohemians. Realistically, a draw between both club’s would suit Tommy Barrett’s men. However, with the current problems off the field, many believe that occupying the promotion/relegation playoff place and taking a chance over the two legged affair may be the most realistic aim.
Despite that popular train of thought, the Shannonsiders will still play Sligo, Bohemians and Bray in a thrilling last round of fixtures.
On their last visit to Richmond Park earlier this season, Limerick were narrowly beaten 1-0 although admittedly St. Pats were the better side on the night. Liam Buckley’s men like to play an expansive style of football which involves building from the back. As a result, Limerick will certainly sit off their more illustrious opponents in a bid to maintain shape and minimise concessions.
If the meeting in May is anything to go by, which ended in another 0-1 defeat, the Shane Duggan led Super Blues will have a chance of earning a result. However, concentration levels will have to be high and that has been an achilles heel for the team all season in all facets of play. The coaching staff will be hoping that Conor Ellis can add to his first goal for the club which he scored in their last outing against Derry at the Brandywell.
With the absence of Cian Coleman, new signing Darren Murphy may make a first start in Dublin alongside definite starters Duggan and Barry Maguire. Conor Ellis is likely to remain up front being flanked by Will Fitzgerald and either Danny Morrissey or Karl O’Sullivan. Although both wingers are likely to be pegged back by the overlapping runs of willing runners Simon Madden and Ian Bermingham from full-back for the Inchicore outfit.