Limerick FC travel to Wicklow on Friday evening to take on Bray Wanderers at the Carlisle Grounds (7.45). The game will be crucial for both clubs in their bid to avoid the automatic relegation place.
Limerick will be aiming to bounce back from a heavy 5-0 defeat at the hands of Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght last week. Ronan Finn (x2), Greg Bolger, Dylan Watts and Roberto Lopes accounted for the Shamrock Rovers goals.
It was a very disappointing defeat for the Shannonsiders despite Rovers league position of third as Tommy Barrett was able to field a substitutes bench with the likes of Cian Coleman, Karl O’Sullivan and Conor Ellis to choose from. It is a luxury not often afforded to the management team.
In truth, it is a must win game for Bray on Friday night. The Seagulls are currently nine points behind their opponents with just five games remaining. Limerick enter the game knowing that a point will almost certainly secure a promotion/relegation playoff against a first division side in October.
The Super Blues will be confident that they can achieve the required result as they have beaten their rivals in all meetings so far this season. However, all games have been tight affairs which were decided by one goal on two occasions. The last meeting between the sides at the Carlisle Grounds was in April as Limerick won 0-1 thanks to a goal from captain Shane Duggan. Although Gary McCabe missed a penalty for the Seagulls before half time.
Personnel changes will be expected as the Markets Field outfit look to gain their first victory in four games since the FAI Cup second round victory against Cabinteely. Defender Killian Cantwell returned last week and will be expected to regain his place in the starting team at either right-back or centre-back.
Furthermore, Tommy Holland may be recalled as the first choice goalkeeper along with midfielder Cian Coleman who was introduced as a second half substitute last week. Striker Danny Morrissey has looked sluggish in recent weeks while his main rival for the lone striking role in Conor Ellis, has looked much sharper.
It will be interesting to see if the management team set up with a diamond midfield of Coleman, Darren Murphy, Shane Duggan and Barry Maguire which has occurred a couple of times this season. However, despite needing just a draw, a cautious setup against Gary Cronin’s side may be ill advised.
Limerick must use the recent league performance against Dundalk as a yardstick for future improvements. Karl O’Sullivan and Will Fitzgerald were exceptionally dangerous on the break that night and the ball retention from Barry Maguire and Shane Duggan was impressive. With Bray needing to win, the space for both young wingers will be there to exploit.
In addition, the Shannonsiders must avoid conceding early like the previous two meetings. Goals are generally hard to come by with Limerick managing just 22 all season.