SPEAKING to the media at the Clarion Hotel on Tuesday morning, Limerick FC manager Stuart Taylor believed that it was only a matter of time before the Super Blues registered their first league win of 2014.
Friday night’s 1-0 victory away to Bohemians brought an end to their winless start to the campaign at the sixth attempt and the manager stated that it was just reward for his team, who he believes were due a change in fortunes.
Taylor said: “I think it’s been coming to be honest. You look back to the UCD game, the chances that we created and the percentage of the play that we had. We had the offside goal, or the so-called offside goal, called off, which was a poor decision but we’ve moved on from it and the players showed great mental strength to continue the performance that they had from the UCD game on to the Bohs game. They had to work harder against Bohs. I said that to them before the game and all credit to them. They put the working clothes on, went out and got a fantastic result.
“I think we were very comfortable in the game. I watched the video analysis of the game coming back down the road and I didn’t realise that Barry Ryan only had one save to make in the second half, and even that was one from Jason Byrne which was more than comfortable. It was a straightforward shot. I think they had one shot which went past the post and they had a couple of corners, but over and above that they had nothing which caused us any problems whatsoever.”
Two days after that deserved victory at Dalymount Park, Limerick advanced to the final of the Munster Senior Cup after a hard-fought 3-2 win over Rockmount.
Tam McManus scored his first Super Blues goal in the opening half, but the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division side had to come from 2-1 down at the interval. Substitute Ross Mann netted twice after half-time to secure the win.
The game was played at Cork City’s home ground Turner’s Cross, a venue that got the seal of approval from Taylor.
“It was another game and another exercise. For the players who hadn’t been playing, it gave them a chance to have a runout. We’re delighted that the game was on in Turner’s Cross because of the surface that they’ve got. I think if it had been at another venue, it would have been a leveller, so it was important that we took them on at a good surface where we could pass the ball. The boys did that and it let them play their own type of game.
“Without being disrespectful, I’d say that [Rockmount] tried to change the game a little bit and make it a little bit dirty in the sense that it turned more into a battle, but as I said to the players, you’ve got to be professional. You’ve got to make sure you don’t get involved and you just move the ball about. I was disappointed with the first half and the players knew that at half-time. They showed a good response and they acted in the right manner by going out for the second half to dominate the game.”
Limerick’s attention now turns to a quick-fire double header of games over Easter, starting with a home fixture against Athlone Town on Good Friday (April 18, kick-off 7:45pm) followed by a long trip north to face Derry City on Easter Monday (April 21, kick-off 3pm).
Athlone are currently bottom of the Premier Division, having failed to register even one point from their opening seven games, but Taylor is wary that their quest to end that unenviable run will ensure a tough night’s work for the Super Blues.
“I watched [Athlone] the week before when they played against Bohs and they got a goal. They’ve got a goal in them and we must make sure that we’re switched on defensively and we’re solid, but at the same time that we’re open enough to attack and cause them problems.
“They will always be hard workers, aggressive, in your face and they won’t make it easy for anybody. They will always be that way under Mick Cooke and the longer that it goes on that they still haven’t had a win, they’re going to work harder and there’s always going to be some point where they are going to get their first victory.
“We just need to make sure that it’s not going to be Friday night. We just need to make sure that we’re as professional in our job as what we’ve been in the last couple of weeks and go and be positive and try to get three points. That’s nothing different to last week, to get another three points and build on it.”
Finally, Taylor did his best to incentivise Limerick football fans to come along to the Good Friday fixture at Thomond Park: “The Dugout Bar is open so hopefully there will be a bit of a party!”