The Bit o’ Red come into this new season with renewed confidence, following a disappointing season last year.
Sligo narrowly avoided relegation, finishing in ninth place, and had two underwhelming cup runs.
This renewed confidence comes from their off-season transfer activity, where boss Gerard Lyttle has been a busy man.
The signing of 23-year-old ex-Liverpool striker Adam Morgan looks a shrewd investment, particularly if he can get his head down and concentrate on his football.
Eduardo Pincelli is another signing that made people stand up and take notice. The 34-year-old Brazilian midfielder is well-travelled, and after a decent pre-season for Sligo, may offer the experience and guile that was often missing alongside Rhys McCabe last season.
David Cawley, Caolan McAleer and Adam Wixted know the league from their exploits with Galway United, Finn Harps and Drogheda United respectively, and may prove to be shrewd signings. Alistair Roy has signed on till June from Hearts and the youngster netted in pre-season.
Lyttle has gotten a host of key players commit for the campaign. Captain-for-the-season Kyle Callan-McFadden, McCabe and Regan Donelan have all signed on and were all big performers last year.
Tobi Adebayo-Rowling (Cork City), Daniel Kearns (Limerick), Omar Haughton, Chris Kenny (Wexford), Mick Leahy (St Patrick’s Athletic) and Jamie McDonagh (Derry City) have all left the club.
“We’re looking forward to it,” Lyttle told the club's official website.
“All the hard work we have put in during pre-season- that’s over with – and the hard work of the season starts now.
“The boys have been great in terms of their attitude and work ethic. Hopefully now we will be rewarded with a good campaign in the league.
“People think Limerick are going to be an easy one because they are tipped to be one of the teams to get relegated this year.
“I do not buy that. I believe they have a really good starting eleven”
To read extratime’s season preview for Rovers, view here.
The Shannonsiders begin their season with a trip up the country, with many LOI fans predicting another season of battling relegation in the offing.
One of the reasons for this prediction is the fact that Limerick have lost their three best performers for last year: Rodrigo Tosi, Chiedozie Ogbene and Lee J Lynch.
After a poor start to the season last year, Martin Russell left as manager early on and was temporarily replaced by Willie Boland, who had been manager of the underage teams.
A permanent replacement in Englishman Neil McDonald was secured shortly thereafter, and the club finished in seventh, as well as making it to the FAI Cup semi-final for the first time since1994.
However, McDonald left the club unexpectedly in January to take up a coaching position at Scunthorpe United.
Under-19 coach Tommy Barrett was named as first-team manager. The 38-year-old Limerick man is an ex-player for the club.
He oversaw a number of departures, including Ogbene (Brentford), Barry Cotter (Ipswich Town), John O'Flynn (Finn Harps), Lynch, Tosi, Dean Clarke (St Patrick’s Athletic) Stephen Kenny (Released), and Bastien Hery (Waterford).
Although it was looking doom and gloom as a result of those departures, he did bring in Eoin Wearen (Bohemians), Daniel Kearns (Sligo Rovers), Mark O’Sullivan (Waterford), Billy Dennehy (St Patrick’s Athletic), Darren Dennehy (St Patrick’s Athletic), Cian Coleman (Cobh Ramblers) Danny Morrissey (Finn Harps), Killian Cantwell (Finn Harps), Conor Ellis (Cork City) and Shaun Kelly (Ballynanty Rovers) over the last few weeks, which has boosted the optimism around the air at Market’s Field.
Barrett told The Limerick Post on the eve of the campaign that he is not searching for mere survival in his debut campaign.
“You have to try and get off to a good start. There is no point in being downbeat about things and saying that we are going to be in a relegation battle.
“If we go in with an attitude like that, it sends out a message and everyone feels down about themselves.
“We will take it game by game and we’ll try to win as many games as we can. We will try to finish as high as we can possibly finish. I think that’s the only way to approach sport.”
Limerick have not released any team news at the time of writing.
To read extratime’s season preview for Limerick, view here.
Referee: Tomás Connolly
The three league meetings between the pair last season saw contrasting fortunes.
Limerick won the first game 5-1 at Market’s Field. A 3-0 win for Rovers followed in May at the Showgrounds and a 0-0 stalemate in Limerick at the end of July was the final game.
Sligo’s top scorer from last year was current Cork City man Kieran Sadlier, who netted eight league goals in 28 appearances before departing in mid-season for Leeside.
Limerick’s top scorer from last year was the aforementioned 35-year-old forward, Rodrigo Tosi. He notched 14 goals in 32 appearances last season, all in the league.
He netted three of those on his debut against tonight’s opponents in a 5-1 win for the Super Blues in the opening night of the 2017 season, except that one was in Market’s Field.
Tonight’s fixture is the 3,000th game in the hosts' history.
Sligo Rovers evens; Draw 11/5; Limerick 5/2.
Sligo Rovers 2-1 Limerick
Subbed Off: 65'
Subbed Off: 74'
Subbed Off: 81'
Subbed On: 81'
Subbed On: 74'
Subbed On: 65'
Subbed Off: 67'
Subbed Off: 90'
Subbed Off: 86'
Subbed On: 67'67'
Subbed On: 90'90'
Subbed On: 86'86'
|Colm Walsh O'Loghlen