Limerick FC face potential banana skin against Munster rivals Cobh Ramblers in the FAI Cup.
Limerick FC take on Munster rivals and Airtricity League First Division club Cobh Ramblers in the Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup at St. Colmans Park on Saturday night (kick-off 7.45 pm). St. Colmans Park was the venue where Cobh became the first side to defeat Limerick in the first division last season and ended the Shannonsiders bid to go unbeaten for the season.
Stephen Henderson’s Cobh also defeated Limerick at the beginning of the 2016 campaign in the Munster Senior Cup at St.Colman’s Park. Limerick beat Ramblers in the same competition and at the same venue this season. However, it was later discovered that Rodrigo Tosi was ineligible to play after the Brazilian striker replaced Chris Mulhall at half-time and resulted in Limerick’s expulsion from the competition.
The hosts are flying high in the first division as they lie second, seven points behind Waterford United. However, with no play off system in place this season and only five games remaining, it is highly unlikely that Cobh will overtake the Suirsiders and claim the title and promotion.
Neil McDonald’s Limerick side are currently on a poor run, picking up just one point from a possible twelve. Last weekend, the Super Blues were comfortably beaten by Dundalk at Oriel Park. Limerick made it difficult for Dundalk in the first-half only to be undone by a superb Patrick McEleney free-kick. Limerick’s set -piece defending has been abysmal this season and Dundalk profited from this weakness as Brian Gartland and Robbie Benson scored in quick succession from two corners. It is certainly an area which could be targeted by Stephen Henderson.
Limerick midfielder Lee-J Lynch recognises how difficult the task is and insists that his side must have the right attitude before and during the game.
“We need to go down there with the right attitude and make sure we get the job done because we’re not on a good run at the moment – I think we if we got the win down there it would boost confidence going into the Shamrock Rovers game. It would also be another step forward in the FAI Cup where everyone wants to go on a good run. We have to go down there, look after ourselves and get the job done.”
When questioned about the effect of the rule change which states that the game must finish on the day with extra-time and penalties if necessary, Lynch was adamant that Limerick are totally focused on the win and not affected by the rule change.
“We need to stay focussed. We wouldn’t go down there for a draw anyway. We’d go down there for the win and make sure we’d come away with it. We have to play well down there, it’s as simple as that – it’s a hard place to go.”
Travelling supporters will be nervous ahead of the clash as Limerick have failed to score in their last three games as well as conceding six in the process. Limerick will be without captain Shane Duggan who misses out through suspension having picked up five yellow cards. In the absence of Duggan, it will be largely expected that Bastien Hery will come in as a straight replacement.
The Shannonsiders record in the FAI Cup has been poor in recent seasons. The city hasn’t seen success in the competition since 1982. The FAI Cup will provide a welcome distraction from league action.
The pitch at St. Colmans Park is tight which may suit McDonald’s narrow 4-4-2 shape if Ogbene was to partner Tosi. Leadership from set-pieces is imperative and the visitors must be more adventurous in their attacking play to emerge victorious. Stephen Kenny will feel he has done enough recently to earn a wide role.
If the Corkman is selected against his former club, his delivery to Rodrigo Tosi could be the difference. With the recent signing of Hungarian striker Peter Berki, Tosi will be aiming to consolidate his position in the team.
Cobh have won eight of their twelve home games this season. However, Limerick have beaten Cobh in five of the last seven meetings in all competitions. The Super Blues will certainly be expected to advance but will be well aware how tough it will be due to the contrasting form of the two teams.
Referee: Ray Matthews