Limerick open their League campaign this Saturday night in Portlaoise against a heavily fancied Laois side who will be hoping for an immediate return to Division 3. Manager Billy Lee couldn’t have asked for a more difficult start as he tries to embed a number of new players into the panel.
For varying reasons, there are 16 players from last years panel that are no longer available to Lee. As a result, nearly half the squad are without any inter-county experience. Yet, with so many new faces eager to impress, it could be a positive year for the footballers.
Last year Limerick, got their campaign off to the worst possible start with three losses from three. However they recovered well to win their remaining four games and finished a respectable fourth in the group. In a rebuilding period, fourth wouldn’t be the worst scenario for Limerick.
However, if Limerick were to come away from Laois without defeat, then promotion would be a very realistic possibility to this young side. Below we have a look through the other teams battling for promotion in Division 4.
Laois will be hoping to improve drastically from last years league performance as they were relegated to Division 3 after only picking up four points across the league campaign. It has been some turnaround for the Leinster men as just six years ago, they were plying their trade in division 1. They will be encouraged by the fact that they beat Armagh away last spring, who would go onto the All Ireland quarter final. For Laois this year, nothing less than promotion will be deemed a success and they will enter the league as favourites to retain Division 3 status.
Vs Limerick– Saturday January 27 in Portlaoise @7pm
Carlow will rue last years League as a missed opportunity for promotion. They were undefeated against the two promoted sides, Westmeath and Wexford but were shocked by London and Leitrim ending their hopes of promotion. They gave a brilliant account of themselves in the Championship, putting it up to All Ireland Champions Dublin in Leinster, before eventually succumbing to Monaghan in the Qualifiers. Will be one of the favourites to secure promotion to Division 3.
Vs Limerick– Sunday February 4 in Newcastlewest @2pm
Last year London only picked up a solitary win in Division 4, but that was against the highly ranked Carlow and they will look to build on that this year. They will have the advantage of home comforts in all of their games this year after traveling to each game last year on account of renovation work in Ruislip. They have finished bottom of the League in each of the last four years and Limerick should look to their trip in London as must win.
Vs Limerick– Sunday February 11 in London @1pm
Leitrim are dark horses for promotion. Last year they picked up four wins from seven and were only two points behind the promoted Wexford. Their win against Carlow last year shows their potential. Yet, the loss of their best player Emlyn Mulligan once again dampens their expectations. Last year Limerick had a once point victory over Leitrim in Newcastlewest and a similar result this year will be vital for the Shannonsiders.
Vs Limerick– Sunday February 25 in Carrick-On-Shannon @2pm
The only other Munster side in Division 4. Waterford have improved in recent times as shown by their display against Cork in the Munster Championship last summer. Last Spring, Waterford’s only wins came against Wicklow and London arguably the worst sides in the division and they will try to improve that this year. However, Limerick will also look to this fixture as a must win, especially as it is to be played in Newcastle. Yet, they should not be taken lightly as they have proved troublesome for Limerick in the past.
Vs Limerick-Sunday March 4 in Newcastlewest @2pm
Wicklow are another side who will be hoping for improvements in 2018 after picking up just one win last year between the League and Championship. Will be buoyed by the Rathnew contingent who shocked the country by beating Dublin kingpins St Vincents in the Leinster championship. However, if Limerick do have promotion aspirations, they will once more be looking to come away from Aughrim with full points.
Vs Limerick– Sunday March 18 in Aughrim @2pm
Like Laois, Antrim were relegated from Division 3 last Spring. Antrim will count themselves unlucky to find themselves in the bottom tier as they finished level on points with Longford but with a worse points differential. Antrim will see Laois and Carlow as their biggest threats, but the Treaty men will be confident of picking up a win in the Gaelic Grounds on the final day.
Vs Limerick-Sunday March 25 in Gaelic Grounds @2pm