Limerick FC are on the road for the fourth time in five weeks when they face Cobh Ramblers at St. Colman’s Park on Saturday night (7pm).
Limerick suffered a narrow 3-2 defeat away to Drogheda United last week. Drogheda captain Sean Brennan gave the home side the lead before Darren Murphy equalised from the penalty spot when Connor Ellis was brought down.
However, just five minutes later Killian Brouder was penalised for a high foot on Stephen Meaney and Brennan got his second of the evening. Shortly afterwards, Brennan converted a second penalty to complete his hattrick and give Tommy Barrett’s side an almost impossible task with 15 minutes remaining.
There was one bright spark on the night for the Shannonsiders as substitute Adam Foley grabbed his first senior goal for the club in the final ten minutes to ensure a nervy ending for the Boynesiders.
However, Tim Clancy’s men hung on for victory and leapfrogged Limerick into fourth place in the process.
It has been a difficult few weeks on Shannonside with Limerick facing four of the pre-season promotion favourites in a row.
On a positive note, the team’s home form has been superb and is the main reason for the club’s current top half position.
In recent weeks, the Super Blues have suffered three away defeats in a row but two of the those were also against Shelbourne and Longford Town.
Given the issues off the field, the team is certainly playing above expectations so far this season.
For the second consecutive week last weekend, Barrett was forced to name just four substitutes for a league match due to his threadbare squad suffering suspensions and injuries in recent weeks.
There have been no further developments on the possible investment from a group headed by former League of Ireland manager Sean Connor.
However, last week’s revelation from Limerick player Sean Russell that the bill for his operation has not been paid by the club has added to supporters discontent.
Russell revealed that there is an outstanding bill of €4500 for the operation and the clinic have tried to contact the club to no avail.
Later in the week, Jamie Moore of Off the Ball League of Ireland podcast revealed that Russell had not been paid his expenses for the month either although that appears to the same situation for the whole squad.
Due to circumstances off it, it makes Saturday’s trip to Cobh even more crucial. The players are in desperate need of a morale boost similar to that achieved with the recent 1-0 home victory over Bray Wanderers.
St. Colman’s Park is a notoriously tough place to gain a victory. Limerick have already played at the venue this season as they exited the EA Sports Cup on a 3-1 scoreline.
Sean McSweeney grabbed the goal for the Shannonsiders and he will return from suspension this weekend along with Jason Hughes.
The fitness of both Robbie Williams and Aaron Fitzgerald will be assessed ahead of the game although Barrett will be eager for Williams to return following the concession of three goals last weekend.
Limerick have been strong in defence all campaign and the former Blackpool man was key.
Colm Walsh-O’Loughlen was named on the bench last week but was unused after struggling with an injury during the week.
With O’Loughlen and O’Sullivan returning along with McSweeney and Hughes, Lee Devitt and Ger Barry may be afforded rest after the youngsters played a big part against Bray and Drogheda.
Limerick and Cobh have already met once in the league this season with the Super Blues picking up a 3-1 victory with Kieran Hanlon playing a starring role with a brace.
Connor Ellis also scored a superb solo goal but Cobh showed a lot of quality in attack on the night and with the likes of Jaze Kabia and former Limerick duo Ian Turner and Stephen Kenny among their ranks, the visiting defence will have to be back to their best.
Shane Tracy will probably revert to left back as he has been used in midfield in recent weeks.
There are six points separating both sides and Stephen Henderson’s men enter the game off the back of a 2-2 draw at Ferrycarrig Park against Wexford.
Ramblers were twice in front but were pegged back by goals from Jack Doherty and Danny Furlong.