PREVIEW: Limerick face Wexford in National League return

After a 231 day wait, the Limerick footballers will be back in competitive action this Sunday when they face Wexford in Mick Neville Park in Round 6 of the Allianz National League.

Limerick’s last outing in the competition was on March 1 where they were beaten comprehensively by Antrim in Portglenone by 2-27 to 2-12.

However, that result was an outlier as Limerick came into the game having won their first seven outings of 2020 that saw them claim the McGrath Cup with a 0-20 to 0-16 win over Cork before going four from four in Division 4 of the League.

McGrath Cup Final, LIT Gaelic Grounds, Co. Limerick 11/1/2020 Cork vs Limerick Limerick’s Iain Corbett and Donal O’Sullivan with the McGrath Cup Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ken Sutton

Billy Lee’s side were arguably the form team of the year prior to the lockdown as they accounted for Clare, Waterford, Cork in the McGrath cup before overcoming Waterford, London, Carlow, and Wicklow win the league prior to the Antrim setback.

After several years in the doldrums, the trajectory of Billy Lee’s side is certainly on the up with the Newcastle native stressing the importance of continuing their promotion bid on Sunday, despite the unprecedented disruptions.

Limerick are currently clear at the top of the Division 4 table with eight points from their five games, a point ahead of Antrim.

This weekend’s opponents Wexford are a further point behind on six, level with Wicklow and Limerick’s final round opponents Sligo.

Limerick’s Seán O’Dea in action against Wexford’s Conor Carthy. 24 June 2017: All Ireland Senior Championship Round 1B, Limerick V Wexford. Limerick, Gaelic Grounds,Co Limerick.

A win this weekend for Limerick could be enough to earn promotion to Division 3 for the first time since 2016 if results elsewhere go their way.

Regardless, two wins from the games with Wexford and Sligo will guarantee promotion for Lee’s side.

Limerick’s squad has been disrupted since their last match, with a number of ins and outs in the set up.

The McGrath Cup final Man of the Match Danny Neville will miss the rest of the campaign after suffering a hand injury with Ballysteen in the Limerick Senior Football Championship.

11 January 2020; Danny Neville of Limerick in action against Cian Kiely, left, and Thomas Clancy of Cork during the McGrath Cup Final match between Cork and Limerick at LIT Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Pa Begley and James Naughton will also be unavailable due to other commitments.

There are some boosts for Lee as Darragh Treacy re-joins the panel after returning home from travelling during the pandemic.

He will be joined in the panel by former Limerick FC star Sean McSweeney who was excellent for St Senans throughout their IFC run.

Eoghan Sherlock and Aaron O’Sullivan have been called in as back up to goalkeeper Donal O’Sullivan with John Chawke and Cian Shorten out injured.

Lee will now also be able to call upon the likes of Colm McSweeney, Cian Sheehan, Gordon Browne, Maurice O’Sullivan, and Mike Fitzgibbon as they missed out on the League but have played club championship.

There has been much disruption in the Wexford camp since their last fixture with high profile manager Paul Galvin leaving his post less than a month ago.

Selector Shane Roche is set to take over as interim manager for the remainder of the season.

These sides met in Round 6 of the League last year with the home side coming away from Wexford Park with a narrow 0-14 to 1-10 win over Lee’s team.

In the first round of the league in 2017, Wexford beat Limerick 0-14 to 1-8 in the Treaty side’s first game back in the bottom tier.

Limerick’s last win over Wexford came in their last home League game against the Yellowbellies as they were 1-14 to 1-13 winners in the 2014 Division 3 NFL clash. 

For the clash, Billy Lee has named a strong side with a couple of changes to teh team that lost to Antrim way back in March.

After the results on Saturday, Limerick will also head into the game knowing that a win will see them promoted with a game to spare.

As such, Lee and co will be hopeful of a similar result on Sunday in a game that will be available live on GAAGO with throw-in in Rathkeale at 3pm.

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