Limerick FC make the long trip to the newly refurbished Brandywell Stadium on Monday night to take on Derry City in the Candystripes first home game at the venue this season (kick-off 7.45 pm). It will certainly be a tough task for the Super Blues as Kenny Shiels’ men will be highly motivated for the game on two fronts. On the one hand, City will be looking to put a crushing 6-1 defeat in Tallaght on Friday night behind them and will be hoping to make it a winning return to their famous Irish stadium.
Limerick earned a hard fought 1-0 victory on Friday night against Bray Wanderers thanks to a late Danny Morrissey headed goal. It was Morrissey’s first goal for the club and the former Cork City player injected life into an otherwise passive game of football. It was clear that both teams were set up defensively in order to avoid defeat. Neither team was willing to take a risk to create an opportunity and a lot of sideward passing was the feature of the first half.
The only shot on target was fashioned by Eoin Wearen but Aaron Dillon in the Bray goal dealt comfortably with it. Limerick captain Shane Duggan’s wayward effort summed up a poor quality first half. Centre-back Darren Dennehy had a goal rightfully disallowed as he bundled the ball and Dillon over the line from a Daniel Kearns corner.
There was little improvement in the second period to excite the 948 hardcore supporters in attendance. The visitors improved slightly and possibly should have taken the lead but former Limerick player Paul O’Conor failed to connect cleanly with a Kevin Lynch cross at the back post. Approaching the last third of the game, Aaron Greene was played through on goal and raced clear of Darren Dennehy and Tony Whitehead before placing his shot straight at the grateful Brendan Clarke in the Limerick goal.
With ten minutes remaining, it was the substitute Danny Morrissey who had been introduced in place of Conor Ellis, who grabbed the winner. Shane Tracy delivered a perfect cross in to the box and the former Cork man planted his powerful header into the far corner to send the home crowd into raptures.
It has been a solid start for Tommy Barrett’s side and it was the perfect response to the Dundalk humiliation. The clean sheet will certainly help to restore confidence as well as the team’s ability to grind out results so far. Outside of the Dundalk game, Limerick have won 1-0 on two occasions and were only denied a third 1-0 win by a late Eoghan Stokes goal. If the Limerick management team and players were offered seven points from a possible twelve before the start of the season, they would certainly have taken it.
Furthermore, a six point gap has been created between the Shannonsiders and the bottom side Bray. Although many believe Limerick should now be looking up the table, gaining stability by preserving premier division football is still the main aim.
Heading into the match on Monday evening, Limerick sit in fifth place while Derry are currently second from bottom after a less than impressive start to the 2018 season. Limerick attacking duo Billy Dennehy and Mark O’Sullivan are doubts once again after missing out on Friday due to calf and hand injuries respectively. New signing Barry Maguire made his first appearance for the club and will once again be available for selection.
Derry slumped to a record 6-1 defeat against Shamrock Rovers on Friday and it was the club’s third defeat of the campaign after losses to Sligo Rovers and Waterford United. The club will look to restore pride at their beloved Brandywell which looks impressive upon first viewing. Derry were tipped to be among the top four once again this season but the slow start will certainly worry Kenny Shiels despite how early it is.
Despite the slow start, the Candystripes have a strong spine to the team with the experienced Ger Doherty in goals and Darren Cole in defence. Also, Nicky Low and Aaron McEneff were two top performers in the league last season and it was a success for Shiels to keep the two midfielders in the North-West. In Rory Patterson, Derry have a proven goalscorer who has struggled for form in the recent past. Limerick must keep their defensive shape as Derry are renowned for their attractive style of football and Ronan Curtis is a big threat on the left wing.
25 April 2017: Derry City 1-1 Limerick
13 May 2017: Limerick 1-1 Derry City
30 July 2017: Derry City 3-0 Limerick
Referee: Ben Connolly