League returns after cup exit

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Limerick v Sligo Rovers - Airtricity League Premier DivisionFOLLOWING their 5-3 defeat in the FAI Cup to Dundalk last weekend, Limerick FC are left to concentrate fully on the remainder of their league campaign to the end of the season.

The Super Blues breached the hosts’ rearguard three times with goals from Axel Bossekota and Rory Gaffney (2), but their defence again proved porous, with Limerick having now shipped 11 goals in their previous three games.

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There was a further blow for Stuart Taylor’s men when Gaffney was dismissed late on for a second bookable offence. The manager was deflated after exiting the cup, although he has quickly turned his focus to league matters, and a visit to Sligo Rovers on Saturday night.

Taylor said: “It was an extremely disappointing night. We said that we wanted a good cup run and we’ve not got it so it’s a sore one to take. It’s really disappointing but we have to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves down.

“We have to make sure we’re ready in preparation for Saturday’s game against Sligo. We know how difficult a game it’s going to be, but all the pressure is on them. They’re challenging to defend their title so there’s a lot of pressure on them.”

Limerick’s cause has not been helped in recent weeks by injuries and suspensions curtailing their defensive options. This has led to Taylor being forced to constantly shuffle his back four, and while Shaun Kelly will be banned for the trip to Sligo, there may be a couple of returnees from injury.

Brian O’Callaghan and Pat Purcell have resumed training and have an outside chance of featuring, while Patrick Nzuzi returns from suspension. Taylor hopes that, with defenders returning to the squad, he can organise a settled, consistent back four.

“What I would like from now to the end of the season is to have continuity. I’d love to have the same back four and play them from now to the end of the season so there’s a consistency there and they get that confidence of playing alongside each other.

“I don’t think it helps when you’re playing players out of position and when they’ve not played there before, when the whole back four is changing in a personnel and a position sense.

“It’s very difficult to move about, especially when it’s unbalanced, having right footers playing left side and left footers playing right side. It’s not ideal but it’s something we’ve had to deal with all season. We’re not making excuses; it’s just facts.”

Limerick make the trip to The Showgrounds this weekend on a back of five defeats in their last six matches in all competitions. With Sligo Rovers, St Patrick’s Athletic, Shamrock Rovers and Dundalk to come in their next four games, the fixture list doesn’t look favourable either, but Taylor has full belief in his players to turn things around.

“Something I don’t have in the dressing room is negativity. You’ve got to be realistic but certainly there’s no place for being negative. The players I have in the dressing room are good characters. They’re good professionals and they’ll be fine. I know they’ll be fine because they’re hurting after every defeat.

“It’s just a case of showing our confidence and belief for the full 90 minutes. I’m sure if we do that, we’ll be fine.”