Tommy Barrett - 'The play-off is the best we could have done'

Wed, Oct 24 2018

Tommy Barrett Credit: Michael P Ryan (ETPhotos)

Limerick manager Tommy Barrett spoke to the media following his sides dismal 4-0 reverse to St Patrick's Athletic. The Blues boss was looking back at a difficult night for a make-shift Limerick team, while also looking forward to the play-off with familiar foes Finn Harps. 

"The goals we conceded were terrible, just sloppy," said Barrett. "We can't just turn it on, you have to play well. Even if you get some kind of performance and lose - you have to play well. It's not good enough.

"But with the players we are missing, it is very difficult for us to play against anybody. We've seven out of 24 missing - particularly in the centre-half position - Tomás (O'Connor) did ok, in fairness to him."

Friday evening also saw Finn Harps defeat Drogheda United 2-0 (3-1 on aggregate0, to book a rematch with Limerick. While many will fancy Ollie Horgan's Donegal outfit, Barrett always has belief in his own squad, 

"I always think we are going to win. But I think they (Finn Harps) are favourites, they have the momentum, they have the more experienced staff, they are going well. It will be very difficult for us, but we'll give it our best shot.

"We have to be realistic, we're going to be positive, I'm not going to give Ollie Horgan anything to say, am I? I'm not going to give him anything to stick up in the dressing room" 

Among the coaching staff with Martin Russell in charge in 2015, Limerick succumbed to a 2-1 aggregate defeat to Finn Harps, something which he sees as little relevance. 

"They are two different teams completely, they've gotten stronger and we have less resources, we've a lower budget. I've 24 players, 17 available tonight, I've 8 full-time pro's, two are out long term - Eoin Wearen and Darren Dennehy. I've seven part-time pro's and nine amateur players - that is where we're at.

"I've nine U19s, 11 under 20, 13 under 23 (years of age), that is not an excuse, it is the reality. You might get away with that in the First Division, but when we're down numbers we really struggle. We've really good young lads but realistically are they ready (to play in the Premier Division), a lot of them are not.

"Karl (O'Sullivan) and Will (Fitzgerald) have done well but some of the other lads are not ready. I didn't want to be putting Tomás O'Connor in there but he's not really ready yet. I'm going to have to play a couple of them next week again (against Waterford), that isn't fair on them. 

"We need to try to keep the ball, that is the only way we can nullify Harps, they are probably a bigger team than us, we don't want to be giving away a silly free-kick, corners or anything like that because it will be difficult. 

"Willie (Boland) went up to watch them (against Drogheda United), they're well organised, well drilled. They've only lost to Dundalk since June. They're a good side, they could be doing ok in the premier division this year." 

In 2016 Limerick were able to retain the majority of their key players and secure an immediate return to the top tier, Barrett believes that the such a luxury may not be available this time.

"You have to try and stay in the division, it could be the end of the world (to go down) because, I played long enough in that first division. I played 8 or 9 years, we were 20 years in it and we only got out of it when we had a budget.

"It will be very difficult to get back up if we do go down. Pat and the board are trying to run this club, they get a lot of stick. Even if we had a €5,000 a-week-budget , which doesn't keep you in the division, you'd want €10k-€12k minimum to keep you in the league.

"We're competing against a €2.7m playing budget with the likes of Dundalk - which they deserve. Cork can cut €300k; we'd be delighted with that amount next year. That is what we are up against." 

Having lost the likes of Brendan Clarke, Conor Clifford and Daniel Kearns in a bid to cut their budget, Barrett believes that 9th was a realistic goal. 

"Since June or July, the play-off is the best we could have done. To keep ourselves above Bray, we've done well."

The Super Blues have scored just three goals in eight games, two in their victory over now relegated Bray Wanderers.

Limerick travel to Waterford, a side they've already beaten twice this season, on Friday, before travelling to Ballybofey for the first leg of the promotion/relegation play-off.