Limerick FC make the long trek to Derry to take on Derry City at the Brandywell on Friday night in the Airtricity League Premier Division (7.45).
Limerick have endured a difficult two month period which culminated in the departure of six players in the last week. Former key players Conor Clifford and Brendan Clarke joined St. Patrick’s Athletic while centre-back Tony Whitehead also left the club. Daniel Kearns, Henry Cameron and Mark O’Sullivan have also departed as the club look to work under a more realistic budget following recent financial problems.
The Shannonsiders have been heavily linked with signing Longford Town goalkeeper Jack Brady and Cobh midfielder Darren Murphy to replace the departed six. However, neither player has been confirmed as a Limerick player. Tommy Holland will make his second competitive appearance for Limerick in goal to replace Clarke.
Centre back/midfielder Eoin Wearen is doubtful for the trip as he has been struggling with shin splints for the last number of weeks. As a result, 17 year old centre-back Tomas O’Connor has been called into the squad as cover. While it is a great opportunity for O’Connor, it also shows how stretched Limerick’s squad is.
Defender Shaun Kelly will miss out through injury and young forward duo Will Fitzgerald and Colm Walsh O-Loughlen remain doubtful ahead of the game.
The Super Blues are searching for their first back to back wins in 15 months following last week’s 2-1 victory over Bray Wanderers. Goals from Cian Coleman and Barry Maguire sealed a vital win. Tommy Barrett knows that Friday night’s clash will be much more difficult for his side. Speaking ahead of the game, Barrett said;
“Derry are a good side who have beaten us well twice. They have good attacking players and play good attacking football. We want to keep it as tight as possible, for as long as possible, but we also want to play positively and impose ourselves on the game.”
Limerick are looking for their first goal against Kenny Shiels team this season as they have been beaten 5-0 and 3-0 on both meetings in 2018. In March, Derry returned to the Brandywell in style by defeating Limerick 5-0. Rory Hale grabbed a hattrick during the victory. The second victory at the Markets Field was a more competitive fare. Rory Patterson gave Derry the lead before a late brace from Aaron McEneff confirmed the victory. Limerick will need to be better defensively in order to achieve a result from this fixture.
Killian Cantwell, Killian Brouder and Billy Dennehy will almost certainly feature in defence for Limerick fitness permitting. Eoin Wearen and Killian Brouder may be the centre back pairing of choice should the Dubliner overcome his fitness issues. Shane Duggan, Cian Coleman and Barry Maguire will complete a midfield three while Danny Morrissey and Conor Ellis continue to improve their fitness but Barrett will be forced to play both players on Friday due to squad constraints. If Will Fitzgerald is ruled out, Karl O’Sullivan will keep his place on the wing regardless.
Derry City have been on a poor run of form lately and have received plenty of criticism. Manager Kenny Shiels is desperate for his side to re-create the positive atmosphere surrounding the club a few weeks ago. Speaking to the club’s official website, Shiels stated;
“Yes, we know it’s a game we really need to win in terms of that top three or four places but just as importantly we want to get our positivity back. You could see six weeks ago just how big a difference that positive energy made to the team and the players individually and we need to re-discover that. There has been quite a bit of negativity in recent weeks but everybody is aware that it’s up to us to change it.”
Shiels son Dean, who signed for the club last week, will be unavailable as he is serving a suspension he picked up in Scotland last season. However, new signings Ben Fisk and Danny Seabourne are expected to feature. With one eye on the Europa League tie with Dinamo Minsk next week, Tommy Barrett will be hoping Limerick can capitalise on the pressure Derry appear to be under locally.
Referee: Derek Tomney