The race to succeed Dundalk as the Airtricity League champions might be wide open, but the preseason odds on offer from Paddy Power would suggest that for Limerick FC, simply avoiding relegation would be a big achievement. Martin Russell’s men might feel that they aren’t oo far off the pace after their Munster senior cup win over Cork City last week, but odds of 300/1 to lift the title and 5/2 favourites to finish bottom would suggest that the bookies aren’t getting carried away by that performance.
Powers have also issued a season long handicap and Limerick have been given the biggest head start of all on this market, receiving a forty point head start from favourites St Patricks Athletic, who are the market leaders.
Overall, our gut feeling is that while Limerick might pick up a few decent results early on, the lack of depth in the squad is likely to pose a huge problem as time goes on. Once a couple of injuries and suspensions start to come along it’s highly likely that the team’s dependence on young players is likely to be stretched and at the top level, it’s just not possible to maintain a challenge without fielding a solid core of experienced footballers week in and week out. Drogheda United look short of real quality and Bray Wanderers are another side that could easily struggle, but right now no team in the top flight looks as “light” as Limerick.
The opening round tie against Bohemians at Jackman Park sees Limerick on offer at 8/5, ever so slight favourites over Bohs at 13/8 with the draw an 11/5 shot, and here a draw would be a very decent result. Bohemians have struggled in recent years but manager Keith Long proved his worth when he came agonisingly close to saving Athlone Town’s season last year, having taken over when the midlanders had lost their first ten games in a row, and he’s brought a few very handy players from Athlone up to Cabra for the new season.
Bohs still might lack that cutting edge up front but they will be very solid defensively and supporters who make their way to Jackman Park this Saturday evening might not see a lot of goals. Bohs (+32pts) is one of the selections that we’d keep an eye on in the season handicap betting market and even if Limerick are able to stay on par with them this week, we suspect that they’ll eventually fall more than eight points behind them. For now though, take the draw as your bet, with 0-0 at 13/2 the obvious correct score call.
by Kevin Egan of PaddyPower