Limerick FC travel to Donegal on Friday evening to take on Derry City in Maginn Park, Buncrana (kick-off 7.45 pm).
The hosts will play all their home fixtures at Maginn Park for the 2017 season as the Brandywell in Derry is undergoing redevelopment. Both sides were victorious on the opening night of the season with Derry defeating Bohemians 1-4 at Dalymount Park, while Limerick impressively beat Sligo Rovers 5-1.
Derry City: The Candystripes will be all too aware of the threat posed by the visitors as Limerick emerged victorious in the EA Sports Cup semi-final clash between the sides at the Brandywell in August 2016.
“They had a player (Tommy Robson) who played in the English Premier League last season, a striker from Brazil (Rodrigo Tosi) who is scoring goals for fun and a French defensive midfield player (Bastien Hery), who sits and accords the style of play.“They have Shane Duggan and Lee-J Lynch, but I don’t want to talk too much about them but these are quality players and they have got the winning habit.”
Unlike Sligo manager Dave Robertson, it appears that Shiels is giving the Shannonsiders the respect they have earned going into this encounter.
Shiels will have to plan without key striker Rory Patterson who is absent through injury. Defender Ben Doherty also misses the game on Friday night. Derry will also have to plan without Aaron Barry, Harry Monaghan and Mikhail Kennedy.
However, Shiels is optimistic about the quick return of the latter three.
“Rory and Ben are out for three weeks, two massive blows for us; Aaron Barry is coming back, I don’t know how soon, Friday could be too early; Alon (Netzer) is getting sharper each week; Harry Monaghan is getting fitter and Mikhail, who was out with a hamstring problem, trained on Thursday, which was good.”
It will be interesting to see how both the hosts and visiting teams will adjust to the change of scenery at Maginn Park which is the home of the Inishowen League Junior side. Derry had made the Brandywell somewhat of a fortress under Shiels and may find it difficult to adapt.
Limerick FC: Martin Russell’s men made a fantastic start to the season in front of a packed Markets Field with a 5-1 drubbing of Sligo Rovers. The style of victory would have pleased the home support along with the start made by Brazilian striker Rodrigo Tosi who netted a well-documented hatrick.
Limerick’s overall dominance owed largely to good displays by midfielders Shane Duggan, Bastien Hery and Lee-J Lynch. Wingers Dean Clarke and Ian Turner both provided superb crosses for Tosi and were lively all evening which will encourage the Limerick faithful.
Club stalwart Shane Tracey misses out through injury along with veteran striker John O’Flynn. Apart from those two, Martin Russell has no new injuries to contend with. It is unlikely that the Limerick manager will make any changes after such an emphatic win considering the positive performance of the whole team.
However, Limerick may pay respect to their hosts, who finished third last season, by altering their style. With the likes of Clarke, Turner and Lynch in the team, Russell can afford to play a counter-attacking style rather than a possession based game.
In order for such a switch to work, Limerick would have to be incredibly disciplined and the defence would have to perform particularly well. The style of play Limerick choose to adopt for the trip remains to be seen.
August 1st 2016: Derry City 0-1 Limerick FC
October 17th 2015: Limerick FC 0-2 Derry City
July 17 2015: Derry City 0-0 Limerick FC
April 20 2015: Limerick FC 0-2 Derry City