Limerick FC make their second visit to Maginn Park in 2017 as they take on 3rd place Derry City in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division on Sunday evening (kick-off 5pm). Limerick came away with a point from the last meeting between the sides at the venue in April.
A super Shane Duggan strike gave the Shannonsiders the lead before a Barry McNamee free-kick levelled matters. in the return fixture at the Markets Field just three weeks later, a last minute Chiedozie Ogbene goal rescued a point for Limerick after Aaron Barry had given Derry the lead.
Limerick have picked up just one win in six against the hosts since the beginning of 2015, albeit the 2016 season was spent in the first division. The victory came in last season’s EA Sports cup semi final when a first-half Stephen Kenny goal sent the Shannonsiders in to the final.
It has been a turbulent week for the Super Blues as matters off the field have produced many talking points. In a week where centre-back Tony Whitehead and goalkeeper Freddy Hall signed new contracts, the club announced that midfielder Paul O’Conor and defenders Robbie Williams and Shaun Kelly were available for transfer.
Within two days Williams had completed a move to champions elect Cork City despite being a mainstay for Limerick since arriving in 2013. O’Conor and Kelly are not expected to be included in tomorrow’s match day squad. Supporters have been left slightly bemused by the decision on social media. With the transfer window closing in three days, it is unlikely that replacements will be arriving.
Limerick have no new injuries or suspensions to contend with following the 0-0 home draw with Sligo Rovers last weekend. Stephen Kenny will certainly be pushing for a starting berth following his impressive cameo appearance last week which earned the winger the man of the match award despite playing just 30 minutes.
With the possible departure of natural right-back Shaun Kelly, it is expected that Dean Clarke will be converted to that position on a permanent basis. The converted winger struggled during last week’s game and will take time get his positioning right. Although the back five came under pressure on a few occasions, manager Neil McDonald will be happy with another clean sheet, the second in three weeks.
The manager will be hoping his side can replicate the intensity shown in the second on Saturday throughout the whole game against Derry.
Derry City currently occupy one of the European places as they sit third in the table heading in to the game. The Candystripes can extend the gap to 4th place Shamrock Rovers to five points with a win. Kenny Shiels side enjoyed a 0-2 derby win against Finn Harps in Finn Park midweek and will be looking for their third victory in a row.
Derry completed the signings of Slovakian Jozef Donly and Mikey Place from Sligo Rovers during the week but both players will not feature against Limerick. Mark Timlin has left the club to join Finn Harps. Shiels recognises the importance of the game against Limerick, especially as results went Derry’s way on Friday evening.
“It’s a pivotal game. If we manage to win the game then we are in a very good position. We will be heading into the game with Shamorock Rovers with less pressure then.”
Shiels has always been an admirer of Limerick and the former Kilmarnock boss is expecting a tough game on Sunday.
“They’re a very good team. One of the best teams in the league in terms of how they play. I think they might have changed slightly but they are a very good team.”
Derry have no fresh injury concerns but Shiels has stated that there may be a few changes to the side who emerged victorious from the derby during the week.
Referee: Damien McGraith