Limerick FC face Shelbourne in final league game

Limerick FC travel to Tolka Park on Saturday night to take on newly crowned champions Shelbourne in the final game of the Airtricity League season (7.45).

Shelbourne won the first division title last week when they defeated nearest challengers Drogheda at United Park, proving the bookmakers right in making them title favourites at the start of the campaign. Limerick cemented their 6th place position following a 4-1 win over Wexford, despite Monday night’s 3-2 loss away at Galway United.

Limerick travelled to Eamon Deacy Park with a youthful side and were once again able to name just four substitutes. Midfielder Darren Murphy left the club before the Wexford game last week to join Ringmahon Rangers in his native Cork while Shaun Kelly and Tomas O’Connor were also unavailable.

It resulted in seasoned left-back Shane Tracy lining out next to Robbie Williams at centre-back for the first time in his career.

In truth, Galway dominated the first half in terms of chances with the likes of Donal Higgins and Conor Barry looking particularly dangerous.

With both sides level at the break, there were five goals in the second half and it looked as if Sean McSweeney and Lee Devitt had twice rescued a point for the Shannonsiders but Conor Barry’s last minute deflected strike secured the victory for Alan Murphy’s men.

Limerick manager Tommy Barrett was disappointed with the result but admitted Galway were better on the night.

I thought it was harsh to lose after we came back into it so well. On the balance of play, they were probably better. They created more chances but in saying that we had some great chances that we should have scored.

We had two one on one’s that we have to score and then we win the game. In the second half we were much better and it was swinging from end to end. It was a really entertaining game.

Barrett was pleased that the club managed to secure sixth place despite a late push from Cobh Ramblers and feels that it is a good end to the season given the circumstances and the resources available to the likes of Galway who finished below the Super Blues.

For us to cement sixth place and be eight points ahead of Galway with their resources and their budget is a fantastic achievement. It’s been a difficult year but to finish sixth with the amount of players we have lost is a good finish.

We had a lot of lads out of position and they gave it their all and when they do that you have to be happy. You aren’t happy with the result (Galway) but you have to be happy with the performance and application.

It has been a turbulent season on Shannonside for Barrett, his squad and the supporters with slim play off hopes also ending in July. Barrett’s contract is up once the season has concluded and the former Limerick player was unsure about what the future held for him following two years in charge.

“You never know. My contract is up at the end of the season and I had a two year contract. You never know in football and we will have to see what happens.”

When asked to summarise his time in charge of his hometown club in the last two years, unsurprisingly, Barrett stated that it was extremely difficult with many unexpected challenges popping up again this year.

It’s been difficult. I have been thrown in at the deep end really. Its been difficult from the start. When I first came in, the budget was cut. The resources weren’t there. We had to go back to Hogan Park to train because we couldn’t afford UL and that all has an impact. You then lose players in 2018 halfway through the season. At the start of the season, I though it was going to be better.

There was an expectation from the club that we would try to finish in the top four and I thought I put a good enough team together and used the budget wisely to finish in the top four. Again, we lost a lot of professionals. We lost Connor Ellis, Will Fitzgerald and Killian Brouder.

You add to that the players we have lost in the last few weeks and I am disappointed that it turned out like last year again. We didn’t learn from our mistakes by the looks of it. Limerick has been like this for 25 or 30 years and it has to change and the sooner the change comes the better.

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