Limerick FC are hoping to advance to the quarter-final stage of the Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup at the expense of Finn Harps who they face at the Markets Field on Saturday evening (6.30 pm kick-off).
Limerick recorded their first league win in six matches last weekend when they defeated Bohemians 1-0 courtesy of a Rodrigo Tosi penalty. Finn Harps endured a tough four days as they were comprehensively beaten 4-0 away at St. Patricks Athletic before eventually succumbing to a 0-1 defeat at home to Cork City on Monday night in front of the RTE cameras.
Limerick moved four points clear of Finn Harps in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division following last week’s 1-0 home win. In truth, the Shannonsiders could have won by a more substantial margin. Chiedozie Ogbene put in a tireless shift for Neil McDonald’s men but unfortunately he failed to finish one of five chances created.
Perhaps more importantly, Limerick were better defensively. Furthermore, full-backs Dave O’Connor and Barry Cotter were much better in possession and in support of the midfield. The manager was vindicated in his selection of Bastien Hery over captain Shane Duggan. The Frenchman put in a man of the match display partnering Lee-J Lynch in midfield. Hery broke up a lot of Bohemians attacks and his distribution was much improved.
It is likely that McDonald will select the same side to face Finn Harps in the cup. The partnership of recent arrival Peter Berki and Brazilian Rodrigo Tosi looked threatening all evening and McDonald will be hoping for the same work ethic from Berki in particular in this cup game.
Limerick have no fresh injury concerns ahead of the game with John O’Flynn working his way back to fitness after a short spell on the sideline.
Finn Harps manager Ollie Horgan wants his side to show character in the wake of their recent league form and is aware of the challenge facing his side. Speaking to the club’s official website, Horgan said;
“We’re under no illusions about the scale of the challenge against Limerick who are coming into the game after that crucial victory over Bohs last weekend. But, we’re going to the Markets Field to get a result and that’s all our lads have been focusing on this week. We had a couple of downs with the league defeats against Pat’s and Cork but that is football and we want to get things back on track and a good result against Limerick would be a lift”
Horgan has been tactically successful against Limerick in recent times. In the first fixture of 2017, Harps pressed the Limerick defence from the front which Sean Houston benefited from for their goal after a poor clearance from Freddy Hall. However, that was a Martin Russell managed Limerick. McDonald’s Limerick do not play the ball in defensive positions and therefore it would seem foolish for Harps to adopt the same shape and pressing style.
In the recent league meeting with Cork on Monday night, Finn Harps defended deep in the hope of sneaking a draw. However, that was against the runaway league leaders.
Finn Harps remain without centre-back Packie Mailey while experienced midfielder Paddy McCourt is rated as doubtful. Striker Eddie Dsane is still suspended due to the red card he picked up against St. Patricks Athletic last Friday night.
Match Stats: Limerick and Finn Harps have met in competitive league fixtures twice this season. On the 18th of March, the sides drew 1-1 at the Markets Field in a game which the Donegal outfit will feel they should have won having taken the lead. In May, Finn Harps triumphed over the Super Blues 3-2 at Finn Park.
Finn Harps have won just two competitive matches in 11 attempts against Limerick dating back to the 4th of March 2011. Albeit the clubs did not face each other for three seasons as they both had different spells in the first division.
Referee: Anthony Buttimer