Limerick FC welcome Bray Wanderers to the Markets Field

Limerick FC host Bray Wanderers on Friday night at the Markets Field as they continue their Airtricity League First Division campaign (7.45).

Limerick were on the end of a narrow 1-0 defeat to Longford Town last weekend as a Dean Byrne goal settled the contest in the home side’s favour.

The Shannonsiders failed to take an opportunity to take the lead when trusted penalty taker Shane Tracy saw a spot kick saved by Lee Steacy after Connor Ellis was hauled down.

The big turning point came on the hour mark when Sean McSweeney received a straight red card for an innocuous tackle in the middle of the pitch.

Leading up to the game, the main talking points involved problems off the pitch. It had been revealed last week that Limerick FC players and management had not been paid wages owed on April 1st.

The payment was three weeks overdue and the team received the payment before they departed for the Midlands for Saturday night’s game.

However, the next payment is due at the end of this week which is a worrying development.

Earlier in the week, a group of private investors who had expressed an interest in buying the club from current owner Pat O’Sullivan, released a statement through spokesperson Donal Magee, stating that takeover talks had broken down due to the significant difference in valuation between O’Sullivan and the group.

It is the second time in three months that takeover talks have stalled with consortium’s both at home and abroad. In February, Limerick appointed Breifne Earley as the new Chief Executive Officer but once takeover talks with an overseas consortium stalled, Earley left just four days later.

It is a bitter pill to swallow for Limerick FC supporters after last season’s troubles. It was believed that due to significant budget cuts and the fact that the vast majority of the squad are amateur, that the recent financial struggles were behind the club.

It is worrying to see the same problems arise again so early into the new season.

On the pitch, Limerick are just six points from the top of the league despite two recent defeats to the leading two sides Shelbourne and Longford, both away from home.

The club’s home form has been encouraging with two wins and three draws so far. Furthermore, only two goals have been conceded in those five games.

On Friday, Bray represent a big test for the Super Blues. At the start of the campaign, the Seagulls were hotly tipped to be automatically promoted following relegation last season.

Gary Cronin’s side recruited well in pre-season with the likes of Waterford player Paul Keegan and Longford Town player of the year Dylan McGlade joining the club.

Bray and Limerick already met once this season at the Carlisle Grounds where Limerick’s recent good record against the Seagulls came to an end thanks to goals from Joe Doyle and Paul Keegan. Connor Ellis had missed an earlier penalty for the visitors.

If Limerick can secure their third home win of the season, they will leapfrog their opponents into 5th place but could potentially finish the night in fourth depending on Drogheda United’s result.

Unfortunately, Sean McSweeney will now be suspended due to last week’s red card. Coupled with Sean Russell’s season ending injury, Barrett’s options appear to be limited.

For tomorrow night’s game, it is likely that Shane Tracy will start in midfield with Aaron Fitzgerald starting at left back.

Colm Walsh-O’Loughlen missed last weekend’s game through injury but if fit, he will almost certainly feature.

With suspensions mounting which was to be expected throughout a long season, the return of Will Fitzgerald is eagerly anticipated.

However, it is believed that the winger is a long way from a first team return as of yet.

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