Limerick FC make the short trip to Eamonn Deacy Park tonight to take on relegation threatened Galway United in a crucial match for both clubs (Kick-off 7.45 pm). The hosts are bottom of the league but only two points from safety. Limerick are in sixth place, five points off the European places and ten points from the relegation places.
The sides met once already this season at the Markets Field as a spectacular strike from Galway’s David Cawley rescued a point for the Tribesmen in the 85th minute.
Limerick picked up their first victory since the June break when they defeated Drogheda United 0-2 at United Park last week. Goals from Robbie Williams and Garbhan Coughlan were enough to grab a vital three points even though the game certainly will not live long in the memory.
Limerick were comfortable throughout and kept their first clean sheet for eleven games. On a tight pitch in United Park, Limerick lined out with the preferred narrow 4-4-2 formation with natural centre-back David O’Connor operating as a left-back. The Shannonsiders lacked any clear threat from wide areas which has been an ongoing issue and one which McDonald will hope to improve.
Ahead of the Galway game, Neil McDonald spoke to the club’s official website and was impressed with his side’s control in the victory over Drogheda. “Yes it was (a great win). I thought we dominated from start to finish. On the defensive side, I thought we looked more solid. The attacking side was good as well and that’s the first time we have put them both together.”
McDonald feels that the victory against Drogheda has improved the mood in the camp.
“The win against Drogheda has certainly made us look up the league, which is great.”
The former Blackpool manager is aware of the challenge facing his side on Friday night as Galway battle for valuable points in a bid to avoid the drop.
“It is a tough place to go. They haven’t won in seven but they are the only team in the league to take points off Cork and that was at home. They are only getting beat by the odd goal. It will be difficult but it’s a task that we are certainly capable of coming away with points from.”
Limerick completed the signings of Henry Cameron and Joe Crowe during the week and are hoping that both players will be cleared in time to take part at Eamonn Deacy Park.
Cameron is a 20-year-old winger who has made two appearances for New Zealand and has been a regular in the New Zealand U-20 set up. Cameron previously worked with Neil McDonald at Blackpool.
Joe Crowe arrives on loan from Norwich until the end of the season. The 19 year old center-back will be hoping to challenge Tony Whitehead and David O’Connor for a place in the starting line-up.
Barry Cotter is the only absentee for Limerick with a knee injury.
Galway drew 1-1 at Richmond Park last week despite trailing for most of the second half. Ronan Murray’s late free-kick almost grabbed all three points for Shane Keegan’s side.
The Galway manager praised the Limerick team ahead of the game and reserved special praise for front duo Chiedozie Ogbene and Rodrigo Tosi.
“Limerick will provide our players with a real defensive test. You could argue that Tosi and Ogbene are one of best partnerships in the league. They’re well balanced and the team plays to both of their strengths, so it will be a big test for us.”
However, the former Wexford Youths boss is confident that his team can cause Limerick problems in the attacking third. “If we can handle that side of things, I’d be confident that we can create chances again and get on the scoresheet.
The fact that we’re the home side, there is no reason for us not to start the game at a quick tempo and keep that going. I thought that last week was our best start to a game in a while, we have to carry that forward now.”
Aaron Conway misses out for Galway but otherwise, Shane Keegan has a full squad to choose from for the game.
Referee: Neil Doyle