Limerick FC -v- Waterford UnitedThu, Aug 30 2012
The Shannonsiders sit on top of the league at the moment; four points to the good and also have a massive goal difference in their favour. With just six games to go, most teams would claim to have one hand on the trophy. However. due to a past filled with cruel fate and misfortune, the Limerick faithful dare not dream just yet, especially with the visit of Munster rivals Waterford United this weekend.
Pat Scully’s men have won the most games, lost the fewest, scored the most goals and conceded the fewest this year in the second tier, making them worthy of lifting that trophy on the last day of the season, but football can be a cruel game and Scully is more than aware of his side’s need to be professional and disciplined for the run-in.
Shamrock Rovers knocked Limerick out of both cups this season; their first, coming in the FAI Cup back in June. Due to this elimination, the Blues had a bye-week of sorts, but Pat Scully awards no holidays, and the players were training in the early hours of Sunday morning. Finn Park was the scene for Limerick’s last league outing. The result ended with a scoreline of 1-1 – a result both sides might have taken in the end.
Limerick are almost at full strength ahead of this tie with only Dave Ryan being absent due to an injury sustained in the glamour tie against Manchester City. David O’Leary and Cian Collins are recovered, and should be available for selection. Limerick have no suspensions for this Munster derby.
Paul O’Brien will be hoping his side can make it four wins from four against league leaders Limerick FC when they make the trip to Limerick to face their bitter rivals in a season defining clash. While the home side will be favourites for this one, they already have been on all three occasions, and Waterford certainly know how to unsettle Lims.
Seven points is a huge gap to make up with just six games to go, but games against Limerick and Longford to come, Waterford’s title challenge isn’t on its last legs just yet. While their last league game ended in defeat, they also went through a bad spell in the opening few weeks of the season; still managing to beat Limerick in the process.
Like their opponents, Waterford haven’t featured since their last league game, despite having an FAI Cup fixture, however both the original tie and the rescheduled meeting failed to pass pitch inspections due to torrential rainfall in the south-east. Waterford will be hoping the break will benefit them.
Manager Paul O’Brien insists that their defeat to Wexford can be used as a learning curve and that everything is still to play for. “The first thing I want to say is I'm proud of the players during the past few months which saw us lose only one game in sixteen. It [the Wexford defeat] brought to an end a great run, but gives us an opportunity to reflect on how to maintain and extend the high levels of performance in players over a long period of time. Injuries and suspensions are a big part of this and avoiding both is something we have to strive towards. When you are in contention at this stage of the season it's hard enough to battle for the points with 11 players, but to play most of the game reduced to 10 is a real handicap. Anyway it's all in the past now and with Limerick drawing at Harps it still leaves seven points covering the top three clubs, and with us all to play each other we will regroup and refocus for the remaining six league games. Our ambition is still the same and we will do all in our power to achieve it."
Waterford will be without a host of players for this crucial tie. Daragh Walshe and Gary Dunphy are confirmed as out by the club, while Paul Phelan and Craig Burns will face late fitness tests. Seamus Long and Willie-John Kiely are both suspended for the clash.
Referee: James McKell.
If Waterford complete the clean sweep of Limerick this year, it will be a direct reversal of results last season, where Limerick won all the games between the sides.
In the seventeen meetings since the clubs renewed the auld rivalry for the 2008 season, there was eight penalties awarded in the first eight games - four in 2008, three in 2009, and one in the first game of 2010. Since that match, there has not been a single penalty in a further nine meetings.
Sean Maguire has also scored twice against Limerick this year, including the winning goal at Jackman Park in April, and Peter White and Dylan Mernagh have one apiece.
Limerick FC 8/13; Draw 5/2; Waterford United 9/2
Limerick 1-0 Waterford United
Limerick FC Injury News: David Ryan.
Limerick FC Suspension News: None.
Waterford United Injury News: Daragh Walshe, Gary Dunphy.
Waterford United: Suspension News: Seamus Long, Willie John Kiely.
Andrew joined Extratime for the 2010 season and covers all the on-goings down in Limerick. Having first experienced the League of Ireland in 2002, Andrew became hooked, even at such an early age. He is currently studying English and New Media at the University of Limerick. You can contact him via Twitter @Cunneen92.