Soccer – Limerick FC return to market

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5 June 2015; A general view of Markets Field. SSE Airtricity League, Premier Division, Limerick FC v Drogheda United. Markets Field, Garryowen, Co. Limerick. Picture credit: Ois’n McHugh / SPORTSFILE
5 June 2015; A general view of Markets Field. SSE Airtricity League, Premier Division, Limerick FC v Drogheda United. Markets Field, Garryowen, Co. Limerick. Picture credit: Ois’n McHugh / SPORTSFILE

AMID a celebratory atmosphere at Markets Field last Friday for the reopening of the venue after 31 years, Drogheda United fulfilled the role of party poopers by beating Limerick FC 2-1.
Kick-off had to be delayed by 15 minutes due to the enormous crowds trying to get into the stadium for this historic occasion, with President Michael D Higgins being introduced to the two teams before the match.
Michael Daly headed the visitors into an early lead which they maintained until half-time. Two minutes after the restart, former Drogheda midfielder Paul O’Conor had the distinction of being the first Limerick player to score at the redeveloped stadium, heading to the net from close range.
It was Johnny McDonnell’s team, though, who had the final say, Lee Duffy scoring what proved to be the winner on 53 minutes, and a tenth league defeat leaves Limerick rooted to the foot of the Premier Division.
O’Conor said that it was “a great feeling” to have scored in landmark fashion, but he couldn’t hide his concern at Limerick’s precarious position, adding that the prolonged winless run is affecting the players’ confidence.
“I thought we played well and, from speaking to some of the Drogheda lads afterwards, they thought we were the better team. I think we’ve been the better team in a few games but the problem is that other teams are scoring the scrappy chances and we’re not. We had a chance in the first half where it got scrappy but the keeper saved it. We need to be scoring those and we’re just missing that edge at the moment.
“We’re all human. No matter what happens, it’s going to affect you when you’ve not won in 15 games. It’s hard to even hear it but there’s no magic wand to get us out of it. It’s only us who will get out of it.”
Limerick captain Shane Duggan, whose father Ger scored the last goal at the ‘old’ Markets Field in 1984, is urging the team to eliminate the “sloppy” errors that have characterised their season.
“It’s the story of our season so far. We got back into the game and we were starting to dominate but we gave them a sloppy goal. It’s the basics that are killing us. Not many teams are carving us open or dominating us every week. It’s sloppy goals that we’re giving away and individual mistakes.
“You have to stay positive. We have a very young squad but we know if we can get one or two results, we’ll be right back in the frame again.”
Limerick’s final match before the mid-season break sees them travel to Inchicore on Friday to take on St Patrick’s Athletic at Richmond Park (kick-off 7:45pm), with Martin Russell facing the club he left to take the Super Blues job last summer.
In underage soccer, UL is this week playing host to the Kennedy Cup, with three Limerick teams (County, Desmond, District) in action throughout the week. The final is fixed for Friday at 2pm.