Russell sets five-win target in Limerick’s bid to beat the drop

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Martin Russell Appointment (5 of 6)LIMERICK FC manager Martin Russell is targeting five wins from the club’s final 10 matches of the 2015 SSE Airtricity League Premier Division season as they aim to avoid relegation.

Without a win in their first 21 games and seemingly doomed to their fate, victories in their two most recent outings have closed the gap on 11th-placed Sligo Rovers to four points and breathed new life into a season that was threatening to peter out miserably.

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Russell admitted that the Super Blues still have the toughest task of any of the teams at the wrong end of the table, but he remains optimistic that survival is achievable.

“[Five wins], that’s the type of target we’ve got to aim for and that’s why we’ve got the hardest task. Others don’t need as much going into the run-in but we’ve just got to try and maximise each game.

“I think there are teams above Sligo who will have to work hard to get results. They might not get those and Sligo and ourselves can get closer. It’s still all to play for and the fact that we’ve all got to play each other is another factor. There’s no doubt that we’ve still got the hardest job but we’re going to try and give it our best go.

“I said from the start that it’s been a really competitive league. We’ve to try and get as many points as possible and it’s going to be a great challenge, but I do think there’s reasonable hope now.”

Limerick’s next objective in their bid to beat the drop is a meeting with Cork City at Turner’s Cross on Friday night before they welcome Longford Town to Markets Field on Monday.

The Super Blues will be rank outsiders against title-chasing Cork, particularly after their 5-0 hammering on Leeside at the beginning of the season, but Russell felt that the emphatic final score was skewed by “questionable” calls from the officials.

“If you look at the first game in Turner’s Cross, there were two questionable decisions early in the game. For the penalty, I think Conor O’Donnell got a touch to the ball and it shouldn’t have been a penalty and then Duggan’s sending off was ridiculous. They were two critical [decisions] that made the game a non-entity in terms of being 2-0 down to Cork with 10 men after 20 minutes, not really due to our fault.

“The game in Jackman Park was a fairly close affair [Limerick lost 1-0 in May]. We were competitive against them and we weren’t under the cosh for too many long periods. I’d like to think that whatever side we put out on Friday can put up an equally good, if not better, performance.

“We’re trying to focus on the Cork game. It’s a big weekend with Cork away and then Longford on Monday. Our intention is going to Cork and putting in a performance.

“We’ve got a bit of a break after the Longford game. There are one or two who have knocks and for whom the Cork and Longford games might be a bit close, but we just have to see how we come out of the Cork game before we look to the Longford one. There’s a feel-good factor at the moment that we’ve got to utilise, so we’ll go down to Cork first and be competitive there.”