LIMERICK FC manager Martin Russell says there is “belief” within his group that they can score goals in Donegal, but he hopes the referee is “big enough for the occasion” having been left disappointed with the physical nature of Finn Harps’ approach in the first leg.
The Shannonsiders set out on the long trip north on Thursday afternoon ahead of their SSE Airtricity League Promotion / Relegation Playoff Final decider at Finn Park on Friday night (kick-off 7.45pm).
Russell’s side carry a one-goal advantage into the game thanks to Shaun Kelly’s 34th-minute thunderbolt at a packed Markets Field on Monday, but the match came at a cost as forward trio Ian Turner, Dean Clarke and Vinny Faherty are doubtful after picking up knocks.
That front three contributed 59 percent of Limerick’s 46 goals in the Premier Division this season, but Russell is “hopeful” that they will be able to shake off their injuries. And he also hopes such tackles and cynical play will not go unpunished this time.
“Our attacking trio from the other night have all suffered bad knocks, so it’s touch and go with them,” Russell told LimerickFC.ie. “We’re hopeful that they’ll come through.
“I’m just disappointed. We’re trying to create a better product and when it comes down to this I think as well as big players you ask for big officials, to protect the attacking side of the game and to reward that if they can.
“I’m hopeful that the lads manage to come through but there were a few challenges the other night that were let go and yellow cards not given when they should have been. It hinders attacking play. I hope whoever the official is, is big enough for the occasion.
“Physicality is part of the game, in the right way. But when you’re getting silly fouls and players obviously not playing the ball and stopping attacks, you have to look at that. Some of our players didn’t train this week. It has to be looked at.
“We’re very much looking forward to the game. It’s the final day now. We know we’ve got a tough game on our hands but we go there in good spirits, going there with a one-goal lead.
“We have belief in ourselves. We’ve gone to big grounds like Turner’s Cross, The Showgrounds, and the big game in Drogheda where we had to win, and won. We scored a number of goals in those grounds, so we do believe we’ve got goals in us if the attacking players are right.
“But we know that Finn Harps, equally, have a big prize to play for, and we’re going to have to play well.
“We’re trying to do the right thing by travelling up on Thursday. It’s a long trip and staying overnight is another cost factor for the club. We’ll be prepared as well we can be and if we can get the strongest possible side out hopefully it will be good enough.”
Monday was Harps’ first defeat in ten games, going back to a trip to Wexford in August. They remain unbeaten at home in eight games (six wins, two draws) going back to a home defeat by the Youths in June.
Limerick are unbeaten away in five games, their last loss on the road coming at Shamrock Rovers in late July. Since then, they have had four wins and a draw, scoring 15 goals, with their last away outing a 3-2 win at Sligo Rovers last Friday.
Team News: Limerick have doubts over forward trio Ian Turner, Dean Clarke and Vinny Faherty who picked up knocks in Monday’s first leg.
Officials: Referee for the game is Derek Tomney, his assistants are Damien MacGraith and Robert Clarke with the fourth official Paul McLaughlin.