Limerick FC host Shamrock Rovers in a massive game in the Airtricity League Premier Division at the Markets Field on Tuesday night (kick-off 7.45). The visitors sit in fourth place on 35 points and Limerick are seven points worse off in seventh place.
Neil McDonald’s Limerick have been on a well documented poor run lately, picking up just one point from their last four league games. However, the Shannonsiders defeated Cobh Ramblers convincingly in the FAI Cup on Saturday and will be hoping that the victory will provide a much needed confidence boost despite it being against inferior opposition.
McDonald may have a few selection headaches ahead of the Rovers game due to the performances of Bastien Hery, Garbhan Coughlan and John O’Flynn, who were introduced to the team in place of the suspended Shane Duggan, Dean Clarke and Rodrigo Tosi. Furthermore, new signing Peter Berki made a positive impression after he was introduced from the bench.
It is likely that Limerick will line out with a similar 4-4-2 formation with both wide players tucking in to create a narrow four. Both wide players will have a big job in nullifying Trevor Clarke and Brandon Miele who operate effectively from wide postions for Rovers. However, two from Shane Duggan, Lee-J Lynch and Bastien Hery must communicate with centre-backs Joe Crowe and Tony Whitehead as Rovers key player Graham Burke will look to drift between the lines while also supporting expected starter Gary Shaw as a second striker.
It is a crucial game for the hosts as they sit just three points above Galway United who currently occupy the final relegation place. Limerick have a chance to create some breathing space between themselves and the relegation zone if they can pick up a victory as it is the Super Blues game in hand on their rivals. Neil McDonald has no new injuries or suspensions to contend with ahead of the game.
Shamrock Rovers arrive in Limerick off the back of a 1-0 win over non-league Glenville in the FAI Cup. Rovers manager Stephen Bradley was pleased to get through the game.
“It could have been a lot more in terms of the scoreline but it wasn’t. We did what we had to do to get through which was the main thing.”
The Hoops are desperate to close the gap on Derry City following defeat to the Candystripes in their last league outing. Bradley feels that his side can turn the heat up on Derry before Kenny Shiels side next take to the field.
“We’ve got two away games before Derry play on Sunday and we need to win them. If we do that it makes it a lot tighter so it’s an important game for us tomorrow.”
Stephen Bradley will be well known to Limerick supporters as he had a two year spell with the club in 2012 and 2013 and was part of the title winning side in the first division. The Dubliner has heaped praise on Limerick, both on the pitch and behind the scenes while also admitting that their style of play has altered since the last meeting between the sides in April.
“Limerick have changed a little bit since the new manager came in. I know they’ll be up for it and they’ll want to put on a performance in front of their fans. We’ve got to be ready for that and be ready to go and battle. They’re a really good club with some really good people behind the scenes. They try and do things the right way like ourselves. When I signed there their whole ambition was to get back to Markets Field. They’ve done that now and they’re building on it. It’s a great place to go and play, it’s a big pitch.”
Bradley reckons that he will be without centre-backs Roberto Lopes and Same Bone, while the Hoops will definitely be without left-back Luke Byrne. New signing Cameron King will go straight into contention for a place in the team.
Limerick have failed to win in their last five meetings against Shamrock Rovers, dating back to 2014. There have been two draws and three defeats.
Rovers and Limerick played out a 1-1 draw at Tallaght Stadium in April. Roberto Lopes had given the Hoops the lead before Rodrigo Tosi netted a last minute equaliser.
The clubs have faced eachother on 130 occasions in the league with Rovers coming out on top in 67 games to Limerick’s 32 wins. There has been 31 draws.
Referee: Graham Kelly