Limerick FC make the short trip to Turners Cross for the second time this season to face Cork City in the Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup Semi-Final. The Super Blues are aiming to reach their first FAI Cup final since 1982, where Limerick defeated Bohemians 1-0 to lift the cup. Cork City are the holders of the trophy as they overcame Dundalk in extra-time in 2016.
Limerick enjoyed a surprise 2-1 victory against the Leesiders at the Markets Field in the league last weekend as two superb goals in the first ten minutes courtesy of Rodrigo Tosi and Shane Tracy provided the platform for victory. However, Neil McDonald’s well organised side were very disciplined which helped contain Cork’s attacking threats. The Shannonsiders did rely on luck and goalkeeper Brendan Clarke on certain occasions in the second half but overall McDonald’s men managed to keep clear cut chances to a minimum.
McDonald believes that the victory will give his side confidence for the cup game and was delighted with his sides “game management”.
“Well it certainly gives us confidence for the run in. The three games previously played against Cork they scored ten goals to our one. So there has been a massive improvement in game management. That gives us confidence moving forward to the cup game, knowing that we have already beaten them once in the league.”
Limerick’s standout performers last Friday were former Cork City player Chiedozie Ogbene and midfielder Bastien Hery. Hery managed to make many vital interceptions and tackles to halt City attacks as well as remaining calm in possession to ease the pressure on the Limerick rear-guard. Ogbene received some rough treatment from his ex-teammates and astonishingly all four Cork City bookings came as a result of fouls on Ogbene. The pacey winger was a threat all night on the break and won the all important free-kick for the second goal.
However, young right-back Barry Cotter endured a torrid first-half at the hands of one of the leagues best players Kieran Sadlier. It was a steep learning curve for the recent U19 graduate who has shown a lot of promise since joining up with the first team on a regular basis. The introduction of Dean Clarke in Cotter’s place at half-time looked to improve little in the first minute as Sadlier beat him with ease. However, Clarke did a great job on the winger for the rest of the game and nullified his attacking threat. Recently converted to right-back, Clarke made two crucial blocks at the back post as well as forcing Sadlier to face his own goal as he aggressively tackled the former Peterborough man.
Limerick have no fresh injury concerns ahead of the big game. It is likely that McDonald will bring Dean Clarke into right-back from the start this week in what will almost certainly be the only change for the Shannonsiders. Limerick supporters will be hoping for a similar performance to last week.
Cork played a massive league game at a sold out Turners Cross on Monday night against Dundalk. The Rebels looked nailed on to secure their first premier division title in 12 years as they led through a Brian Gartland own goal. However, a late Robbie Benson equaliser denied Cork for the time being. With an 11 point lead with four games to go, it is only a matter of time before John Caulfield’s side secure the league title.
However, the league will take a back seat tomorrow night as they look to take a step closer to retaining the FAI Cup. Caulfield feels that the home draw as well as the lessons learned from last Friday night will stand to his team.
“Last Friday night will have no bearing on this game. It is a cup game, a one-off with a trip to the Aviva for the winners. We know the team they will play and we know what they are about. If we concede and let them play on the counter-attack, we will be in trouble. We need to play like we did on Monday, with our intensity and trying to get ahead. I think Monday will give us confidence, as will being at home; it’s a semi-final, it’s the cup we won last year and it is a chance to go to the Aviva.”
John Dunleavy and Alec Byrne remain on the treatment table for Cork while there are slight concerns over the fitness of Kieran Sadlier, Alan Bennett and Stephen Dooley. However, all three are likely to feature.
Both Cork and Limerick have met on four occasions this season. Cork have won three of those, scoring ten goals and conceding one in the process. However, Limerick avoided a clean sweep with a 2-1 victory in the league last week.
Limerick’s recent record at Turners Cross is poor. The Shannonsiders have won two of six league games since 2013. However, they have lost the other four games by heavy margins.
Referee: Ray Matthews