Limerick FC return to the Markets Field for the 2018 season with a stern test against Bohemians

Limerick FC welcome Bohemians to the Markets Field on Saturday evening for the club’s first home game of the 2018 Airtricity League season (kick-off 6.30 pm). Both sides began with impressive victories last weekend. Limerick defeated Sligo Rovers 0-1 at the Showgrounds thanks to a second half header from debutant Darren Dennehy. Bohs picked up a comeback 3-1 win over arch rivals Shamrock Rovers courtesy of two goals from Dan Casey either side of a Paddy Kavanagh strike.

The turbulent pre-season preparations appeared to take their toll on the Limerick squad as they were visibly tiring. However, Tommy Barrett’s new look side showed great character and work ethic to keep their hosts at bay. There were some impressive performances from new signings Mark O’Sullivan, Daniel Kearns and Cian Coleman.

The clean sheet was a big bonus and confidence booster for the defence, the majority of which are too familiar with conceding during previous regimes. Manager Tommy Barrett was delighted with the clean sheet to add to the victory. Speaking to the club’s official website in the aftermath of the game, Barret stated;

“That’s down to the lads – they work hard. We’re trying to get them as organised as possible. The group is still forming and I think we can only get better.

The aforementioned Mark O’Sullivan was extremely effective during last weekend’s game and Limerick will have to be alert to the second balls in order for the ploy to continue to be a success.

There may be an expectation for a more adventurous approach at the Markets Field but O’Sullivan’s aerial ability coupled with a midfield possessing plenty of energy, it is unlikely that Limerick will stray too much from the compact and conservative approach which brought so much joy in the north-west.

Fitness permitting, Limerick will be expected to field the same team as last weekend. Conor Ellis is due to return soon after suffering from a minor groin injury. Earlier this week, the popular Freddy Hall left the club for personal reasons. Despite Hall’s popularity among supporters, he had lost his place in goal and the club will be looking to re-invest the money available for wages

Keith Long’s Bohemians arrive at the Markets Field in bouyant mood following their triumph over Shamrock Rovers. Last season, the Gypsies won 0-1 during the same period of the season against a Martin Russell led Limerick side. However, with the obvious change in style from the Russell era, it would prove an ill advised move by Long to adopt a high pressing game on this occassion.

Keith Ward is a key player for Bohemians in the attacking third. His defensive midfield operators Oscar Brennan and Keith Buckley were ineffective for large periods against Shamrock Rovers and it is not a position where Bohs are far superior to their hosts on paper.

One major worry for the Limerick management and supporters will be the dreaded set-piece area. Despite vital clearances from Mark O’Sullivan and Darren Dennehy, Sligo should have profited from slack marking before half-time as Eduardo Pinceli’s header whistled just past the post. The visitors took full advantage of terrible set-piece defending from last week’s opponents and two Dan Casey headers provided the platform for the win.

Limerick centre-back Tony Whitehead has made huge strides in the past 12 months and along with his experienced partner Darren Dennehy, will be tasked with keeping poacher Dinny Corcoran quiet. The lack of service severely inhibited Corcoran’s ability to have an effect on the Dublin derby. Even so, the former Sligo man wasted a glorious opportunity from a Keith Ward corner.

Following last weekends victory, the mood has changed from dread to optimism among Super Blues supporters. With this in mind, a large attendance remains a possibiltity. However, the message from the management and players is clear; it is only the first week of the season and caution is needed with a youthful squad.

Last three meetings:
19 August 2017: Limerick 1-0 Bohemians
23 May 2017: Bohemians 1-2 Limerick
13 March 2017: Limerick 0-1 Bohemians

Referee: Ray Matthews

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