Limerick FC face champions Dundalk in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division at Oriel Park on Friday night (Kick-off 7.45 pm). Neil McDonald will be hoping his side can produce a much better display than last week’s 3-0 away defeat to Derry City in Donegal. Limerick conceded after just 30 seconds as a mistake by defender Joe Crowe allowed Barry McNamee to knock the ball past Brendan Clarke. Rory Patterson and Ben Doherty added further goals to heap the misery on Limerick.
Local midfield pairing Lee-J Lynch and captain Shane Duggan gave honest appraisals of the team performance and stated that the display was “miles off” the required standard. Worryingly for Limerick, the chasing pack of Finn Harps, St.Patricks Athletic and Sligo Rovers are picking up important results as of late. However, the Shannonsiders are only seven points adrift of fourth placed Shamrock Rovers in a tightly contested league.
A visit to the champions would not have been the fixture that Limerick wanted following such a poor performance. However, promising young striker Chiedozie Ogbene believes his teammates must react positively to the set back. Speaking to the club’s official website, the striker said:
“Hopefully we can pick up points against Dundalk if possible. We are just going to put Derry behind us, train as hard as we can and carry on with the season.”
Ogbene admits that it will be extremely difficult to get a result at the home of the reigning champions.
“It will be very difficult. Obviously Dundalk are a very strong team who competed in the Champions League. It’s never easy going up there. We have to be positive. We are just trying to prepare as best as we can to go up there and get a result.”
The former Cork City man appeared to be irritated when relegation was muted as a possibility.
“I think its too soon to be talking about relegation. One result doesn’t mean you are going to get relegated. I am a positive guy and I believe if we keep working hard it will change. If we can correct our own mistakes, we will be a very difficult team to beat.”
Last weekend, McDonald deployed winger Stephen Kenny in a central midfield role. Ogbene reverted to a left wing role. McDonald has preferred to play a narrow 4-4-2 throughout his tenure with little threat from wide positions. At the home of the champions, McDonald will have to be cautious in his approach and may need Ogbene closer to striker Rodrigo Tosi in order to occupy Dundalk defensively.
Otherwise, he risks the Brazilian becoming totally isolated, which had happened a lot before the partnership with Ogbene. The introduction of natural midfield player Bastien Hery to partner Shane Duggan may be an option chosen by the manager with Lynch and Cameron on either side. Henry Cameron has not looked comfortable since his arrival, although it is early days for the former Blackpool player.
Two individual errors cost Limerick dearly at Maginn Park and there will be no room for error at Oriel Park tomorrow night. Limerick have no fresh injuries or suspensions ahead of the crunch clash.
Dundalk enter the game after being held to a 1-1 draw by struggling Sligo Rovers at the Showgrounds last week. Niclas Vemmelund gave the Lilywhites the lead but Benny Igiehon earned a share of the spoils for the Bit O’Red. Manager Stephen Kenny has a full squad to choose from after the return of Patrick McEleney from injury. Centre-back Paddy Barret joined Waterford on loan for the rest of the season during the week.
The Lilywhites sit 17 points behind Cork City in the league table and barring something of a miracle, will not retain their crown. However, they will be determined to finish second and see off the challenge of 3rd place Derry as well as closing the gap on Cork.
Stephen Kenny wants his side to maintain their performance levels and is aware of Limerick’s need for points.
“We have a fully fit squad to choose from on Friday. It’s important to maintain a high level of performance on Friday against a team who are scrapping for points. We want to get back to winning ways at Oriel Park.”
Match stats: Limerick have won just one of their previous ten meetings with Dundalk in all competitions.
The last meeting between the sides at the Markets Field in May, ended 0-3 to Dundalk with goals from Dave McMillan and Sean Gannon. Brendan Clarke was sent off early in the first-half for Limerick in what was Neil McDonald’s first official game in charge.
Dundalk won the first fixture at Oriel Park 1-0 thanks to a superb strike from Patrick McEleney.
Referee: Derek Tomney