PREVIEW | Limerick welcome Kildare to the TUS Gaelic Grounds needing a win to stay alive in survival hopes

It’s a tall order for Mark Fitzgerald in his first game in charge but the hope will be for the new manager bounce to be enough for Limerick.

The permutations for Limerick are simple this Sunday as they know if they fall to another defeat then their stay in the second tier will come to an end at the first time of asking.

In their sixth game since returning to Division 2, Limerick need a first win or face the possibility of relegation as their clash with Kildare throws in at 3.45pm in the second part of a TUS Gaelic Grounds double header with the hurlers hosting Wexford in the opener.

However, preparation for such a crucial game have been far from ideal for Limerick who have parted ways with manager Ray Dempsey since their previous outing.

In that game, there were huge signs of life in the Limerick charge after they ended a run of four successive defeats with a well-deserved draw against Meath in the Gaelic Grounds.

But less than a week removed from the outing, news filtered through that Ray Dempsey had stepped down as manager after just eight games in charge with selector Mark Fitzgerald his new replacement. Fitzgerald was a part of his backroom team and will bring some sense of continuity into the setup over the past week.

While the turbulance in the camp will do little for Limerick’s survival charge, they are possibly coming up agianst the perfect opposition with Kildare in complete disaray so far in the league. Their sole victory came against Clare with a snatch and grab not even coming close to describing the contest.

Trailing by six and down to 14, the Lilywhites launched an incredible comeback late on that remains their only points to date. That followed a heavy defeat to Cork but they failed to build on the win in Ennis.

2 April 2022; Seán O’Dea of Limerick clears a shot from Sam Mulroy of Louth, not pictured, close to the goal-line during the Allianz Football League Division 3 Final match between Louth and Limerick at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

For both, the lowest moment came against Cork, Limerick falling to a 24-point defeat in Pairc Ui Chaoimh while the Rebels left Newbridge with a 13-point victory in round two.

Equally, this Sunday could prove to a turning point for each depending on which side of the outcome they fall. Should Limerick lose then they will be relegated prior to their trip to Cusack Park. Win and Kildare will be in a periless situation heading into a final round clash with Leinster rivals Meath a point behind the Shannonsiders.

A draw opens up the possibility of one surviving but would ensure that the other would face the drop. Clare are the other side in real relegation danger although Meath aren’t out of the clear. Cork and Louth could potentially be caught but it would need a string of results with huge scoring differences made up.

As such, Sunday’s game is the most important of the campaign for both.

5 February 2023; Iain Corbett of Limerick in action against Adam Fearon of Dublin during the Allianz Football League Division 2 match between Limerick and Dublin at TUS Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Prior to the league kick off, few would have envisaged Kildare in the position they are but Limerick will need to find confidence in that as they seek a first league win since the last round of the 2022 campaign where they were impressive against Fermanagh.

And their home league record over the past three league season has been uplifting with Westmeath and Dublin the only sides to come away from the Gaelic Grounds with victory. Louth were victorious in UL last year but the Shannonsiders have beaten Tipperary, Wicklow and Fermanagh in that time with the draw to Meath the other result.

That most recent clash was no doubt Limerick’s best performance of the year to date, as they could have felt aggrived to leave the Ennis Rd with just a point to their name.

It was performance akin to the ones that helped Limerick out of Division 3 last year and to a first Munster final in 12-years and it will have to be repeated this Sunday if Limerick are to bring their survivial hopes to the final round.

It’s a tall order for Mark Fitzgerald in his first game in charge but the hope will be for the new manager bounce to be enough for Limerick.

Time will tell if it will be enough.

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