Limerick FC welcome Cobh Ramblers to the Markets Field tomorrow night in the Airtricity League First Division (7.45) It will be the first of two meetings in four days for the sides.
Tommy Barrett’s side will be searching for their first goal of the season as their struggles in front of the net continue. Limerick have failed to score in their opening three games and the Limerick manager admits that the squad is short on a proven goal scorers.
It comes down to have we any lads who are proven goal scorers at this level. Goal scorers are hard to come by.
We haven’t got any proven goal scorers at this level in our squad. The highest scorers in our squad at this level are Shane Tracy and Robbie Williams and they are defenders.
Limerick were not helped last Friday by the withdrawal of striker Conor Ellis who failed a late fitness test due to a hamstring issue. It meant that the Shannonsiders fielded a starting 11 without a recognised striker in the team, with Sean McSweeney playing up front.
When striker Kieran Hanlon was introduced at half time in place of Darren Murphy, he made a decent impact similar to that against Longford Town.
In fact Hanlon had Limerick’s best two chances with a header and a late strike which went over the bar. If his fitness levels improve, Hanlon could be pushing Ellis for a starting place.
Experienced defender Robbie Williams had a superb game against Drogheda and was leading from the front. The former Galway man was composed on the ball and started a number of attacks from deep in defence. Also, his reading of the game and defensive headers eased defensive worries.
The visitors Cobh have endured a mixed season so far as they lost their opening two games against Drogheda and Athlone before beating Wexford last weekend.
It is hard to read too much into the Drogheda and Wexford games as Cobh had well documented issues on their journey to Drogheda and basement side Wexford are struggling massively and are likely to be stuck to the bottom for the season.
Stephen Henderson has achieved promotion with the club before in 2007 which is no mean feat. Also in 2017, when there was no playoff system, his side were 2nd behind champions Waterford. Reaching last year’s EA Sports Cup final was another milestone for the club.
Cobh will have former Limerick FC players Ian Turner, Stephen Kenny and Shane O’Connor in the team so they will be a threat to a relatively solid Limerick defence this season.
One of the main reasons for Limerick’s solidity has been the performances of goalkeeper Jack Brady who came up with the answers to many long range efforts against Drogheda, particularly from Sean Brennan and Chris Lyons. Brady’s distribution has also given Limerick defenders confidence to use him in tight situations.
Barrett is hoping to have Conor Ellis and Shane Tracy back for the game but says that Will Fitzgerald could be a long term casualty.
Will is probably a long term injury but we aren’t too sure yet.It will definitely be three to four weeks before he can start running again.
Conor Ellis is just a small hamstring tweak and we will monitor it. It’s Shane Tracy’s knee and we are hoping he will be back.
Limerick’s back five looks like one of the strongest in the division and will be strengthened by the return of Tracy. It will also allow Sean Russell to move up the field, either to central midfield or on the left wing.
It remains to be seen whether Barrett selects a midfield three of Russell, Hughes and McSweeney who started the second half against Drogheda.
By his own high standards, Darren Murphy was below par last week which led to his half time departure, although it is likely that he will be offered a chance to put things right this week against his former club.
After Friday night’s league encounter, Limerick will travel to Cobh on Bank Holiday Monday (March 18th) to face the same opposition at St. Colman’s Park in the EA Sports Cup. The game was re-arranged having fallen foul of heavy rainfall last Tuesday week.