Relegation threatened Limerick take on the challenge of title chasing Dundalk in a crucial clash in the SSE Airtricity Premier Division at the Market’s Field on Friday evening (kick-off 7.45pm).
The Super Blues are desperate for a league win to keep their fading hopes of avoiding a relegation playoff alive but it will be a mammoth task against Dundalk who are chasing their second league title in the last three seasons.
This will be the first of back-to-back meetings between the sides with Limerick having been drawn to face the Lilywhites in the quarter-finals of the FAI Cup next weekend. Limerick advanced to this stage courtesy of a hard fought 2-1 win over Cabinteely at the Market’s Field last Friday night.
The Super Blues took a deserved lead just before the half hour with a goal from Connor Ellis and doubled their advantage 12 minutes into the second half through Barry Maguire. It was all hands to the pump in the final half an hour with Cabinteely throwing the kitchen sink at the home side. Limerick held out until the 90thminute when Kevin Knight pulled a goal back but it proved to be too little too late for the men from Stradbrook.
Apart from their FAI cup wins over Cockhill Celtic and Cabinteely, Limerick’s recent league form has been abysmal having lost four of their last five matches with the exception being a 2-1 win over Waterford at home.
A 3-1 home loss to Sligo Rovers and a 5-0 thrashing by Bohemians at Dalymount Park in their last league match have firmly rooted the Shannonsiders to the relegation playoff position.
The Super Blues boss Tommy Barrett is only too aware of the magnitude of the challenge posed by Dundalk but remains upbeat telling www.limerickfc.ie, “Dundalk are a top-class outfit, they’re top of the league, they have players we could only dream of being able to afford, and they’re just off the back of a run of 13 league wins. It’s a huge ask for our players to go out and get a result, but all we can do is go out and try our best, which we will do.”
Limerick have reduced the ticket prices in a bid to increase attendances at the Market’s Field and Barrett is calling on the Super Blues faithful to get behind the team and do their part as the twelfth man.
“I can understand why the attendance was low last week – we are obviously disappointed with it but it was to be expected, in a way, after the hurlers. It would be great if the supporters can come out and get behind us this week. We need all the help we can get.”
Limerick boss Tommy Barrett has a plethora of injuries to contend with Eoin Wearen joining long-term casualty Darren Dennehy on the sidelines after jarring his knee against Cabinteely and Killian Cantwell is also a doubt due to a groin strain. The Super Blues have no suspensions with captain Shane Duggan returning after his ban from last week.
The Lilywhites will make the long journey to Shannonside with the intention of getting their title charge back on track. Dundalk had their 13 match winning run brought to an abrupt end in dramatic circumstances when they suffered a last gasp 2-1 defeat to Shamrock Rovers at Oriel Park on Tuesday night.
Rovers came out of the blocks flying and took an early lead in the second minute with Roberto Lopes on hand to give the Tallaght outfit the best possible start. Dundalk clawed their way back into the match and drew level in the 54thminutes thanks to a goal from Michael Duffy.
The game looked to be heading for a draw until deep into injury time Rovers were awarded a penalty which was duly despatched by Dylan Watts to win the match. The game was marred by ugly scenes at the end which resulted in the sending off of Sean Hoare for dissent.
Despite making several changes Dundalk advanced comfortably to the quarter-finals of the FAI Cup with a 2-0 win over Finn Harps at Oriel Park last Friday evening with goals from Ronan Murray and Georgie Kelly.
The Lilywhites had been in superb form in the league having notched up 13 successive wins including a 2-1 win over title rivals Cork City at Oriel Park and an impressive 4-0 thumping of Europa League hopefuls Derry City at the Brandywell.
Dundalk boss Stephen Kenny is hopeful that his side will pick themselves up and produce another performance away from home telling www.dundalkfc.com, “The players have been in great form over the past few weeks and we want to bounce back with a win on Friday night against Limerick. We are very focused and we want to put in another strong performance and hopefully get another victory away from home.”
The Lilywhites boss Kenny has a few notable absentees with Sean Hoare out through suspension after his red card in mid-week. Stephen O’Donnell remains out with a broken leg and Karolis Chvedukas is likely to be unavailable while recovering from an ankle injury.
Referee: Robert Rogers
Limerick and Dundalk have met each other three times in the league so far this season with the Lilywhites winning all three with 8-0 and 4-0 wins at Oriel Park and a 3-0 win at the Market’s Field.
In their last ten league meetings Dundalk have dominated proceedings with nine wins with the other match ending in a draw.
Limerick 11/1; Draw 11/2; Dundalk 1/6.
Limerick 1-4 Dundalk
Injured: Eoin Wearen, Darren Dennehy
Doubtful: Killian Cantwell
Injured: Stephen O’Donnell, Karolis Chvedukas
Suspended: Sean Hoare
THIS FRIDAY! League leaders @DundalkFC are in town and #LIMERICKFC need YOUR support!— Limerick FC (@LimerickFCie) August 28, 2018
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