LIMERICK manager Martin Russell says their return to the Markets Field gave “a taste of what could be”, as their Premier Division survival fight continues at his old club Saint Patrick’s Athletic at Richmond Park on Friday night (kick-off 7.45pm).
Over 2,300 people turned out to support the Shannonsiders last weekend as they took to the field at their ‘spiritual home’ after an absence of 31 years.
The vocal backing and family atmosphere – packed with fans young and old – around the Garryowen Stadium has given everyone plenty of encouragement, and Russell’s players will look to feed off that in crucial home tests early next month.
However, in the meantime, they face extremely difficult trips to St. Pat’s and Dundalk, either side of the midseason break, and their manager wants them to approach these games with a positive mindset.
“These are big games when you go and play the likes of Pat’s in Inchicore. It’s a great challenge for our group so we’re looking forward to it,” Russell told LimerickFC.ie.
“We’ll hopefully go there with a game-plan that gives us every chance of winning. It’s a tight league and a competitive league. Hopefully, we can go there and come away with something.
“The whole thing about last week gives you a taste of what could be on a more regular basis. As I said last week, it was a new dawn in terms of giving people an insight into the way the club should be going.
“It’s something that I think everyone has got to keep on working towards, in trying to get the best rewards.”
Limerick are rooted to the bottom of the table, six points adrift of Bray Wanderers. They remain without a league win this season and have not picked up a point since drawing with Sligo Rovers five games ago.
Last week, they lost their opening match at the Markets Field, 2-1 to Drogheda United, having exited the FAI Cup seven days earlier at the Carlisle Grounds. Their last win on the road was at Derry City last October.
St. Pat’s, meanwhile, are in fourth place, ten points off leaders Dundalk with a game more played. Having lost to the Lilywhites last month, they have put together a three-game winning streak, beating Shamrock Rovers in the Cup before seeing off Derry City and Bohemians in the league.
When the teams met at Jackman Park back in March, the Saints won 2-1 thanks to Aaron Greene’s double, with Limerick’s reply coming from Ian Turner. In their last clash in the capital, in August, the Blues won 1-0 thanks to Rory Gaffney’s early second-half strike.
Team News: Limerick are without 17-year-old pair, centre-half Paudie O’Connor and forward Seán McSweeney, who are sitting their Leaving Certificate. Right-back Seán Harding (ankle) remains out with injury.
Officials: The Match Officials are from Malta; referee is Alan Mario Sant with assistants Edward Spiteri and Peter Abela. The fourth official is Ben Connolly.