LIMERICK FC midfielder Jason Hughes is pleased with his form in the opening weeks of the season, having been one of few players to start every league game for the Super Blues thus far in 2014.
The 23-year-old has been one of the club’s most impressive performers of late and, having only returned to senior football nine months ago, he is pleasantly surprised at the amount of game time he is currently being given by Limerick manager Stuart Taylor.
Hughes said: “It’s great. I personally didn’t think I was going to play as much as what I have. I’m just hoping to do well in every game and take each game as it comes so that hopefully I get the start for the next week.
“The fact that I’m starting week in week out shows that I must have done something right, so I’m hoping to just keep going and keep doing what I’m doing because that seems to be working for me and seems to be keeping me in the team, so I’m happy.”
He made a vital contribution for the Super Blues in the 1-1 draw away to UCD recently, scoring a last-minute equaliser at Belfield, and it was significant strike given Limerick’s disappointing start to the season.
They won their first league game at the sixth attempt last Friday, defeating Bohemians at Dalymount Park, and Hughes revealed that there was a quiet sense of confidence in the away team dressing room before kick-off.
“We were all buzzing at training. I could tell by the warm-up before the game. I’m going to say I knew we were going to win, but I knew that it would have been hard to beat us. We were all buzzing and we were confident because we had been playing well. It’s just that we hadn’t been getting one or two things going our way, but I was confident and we were all happy. The mood was decent and I was really looking forward to the game.
“It was great to get a goal and to draw with [UCD]. The gaffer has being saying that we battered them so if we didn’t draw I really think it would have put a damper on us, but the fact that we got something out of the game was great.”
Hughes rejoined Limerick FC from Ballynanty Rovers in July 2013 and he was at Jackman Park last weekend to witness his former team-mates progress to the FAI Junior Cup final after beating Dublin club Collinstown on penalties.
He added that the pace of League of Ireland football, compared to that at junior level, literally took his breath away when he began his second spell as a Limerick FC player.
“I was at the [Ballynanty] game. I was finished work at half 6 so I went straight from work to the game. During the penalty shoot-out my heart was in my mouth. The keeper for Balla pulled off three great saves and the second that they scored [the winning penalty], we all invaded the pitch. It was crazy. Lads that I would have played with and lads that I love the bones of; the fact that they’re in the final is crazy. I’m hoping that we don’t have any game so that I can go up and watch them.
“It’s huge for everyone. Hopefully people will go up and support them because it’s been 1983 since the last time Balla got to the FAI final. It’s massive and the people involved with the club are 100 per cent true and die hard. I hope that Balla get the support they really deserve.
“I think the tempo [of senior football] is really high. You probably won’t get more than two or three touches when the ball comes to you. Everything has to be sharper and everything is upped so much, even the training that we do. When I signed last year from Balla, the training that we did there was decent and then I went up to the first [Limerick FC] training session in Pike Rovers.
“I had just signed with the club and I was just trying to get my breath. The tempo was so high; it was crazy but it was great to be back in it. For me, the biggest thing has to be the tempo being so high.”
The jubilant scenes at Jackman Park undoubtedly brought back happy memories for Hughes, but now his focus is on the near future rather than the past, with a busy weekend of action for Limerick FC as they aim to put further daylight between themselves and the bottom of the Premier Division table.
The Super Blues are at home to Athlone Town on Good Friday and then head north to take on Derry City three days later, a challenging schedule but one that Hughes is anticipating with positivity.
“It is going to be tough; first we have to look at the game on Friday and hopefully pick up three points there. After that then we’ve to get our bodies right, travel up to Derry and hopefully pick up something there. Hopefully we can then start pushing up the table a bit because we have been playing well.
“The more wins that we get, the better it’s going to be for us. We obviously do want to push away from the bottom teams in the league and hopefully push up the league ourselves.”