LIMERICK FC might be favourites for relegation with some bookmakers ahead of the 2018 SSE Airtricity League Premier Division, which begins this weekend, but the club’s new manager Tommy Barrett is not willing to settle for mere survival this season.
The 38-year-old is facing into his debut campaign as Limerick’s first team manager, having led the U-19s in recent years, and he hopes that a good start to the season could see the Super Blues setting their sights towards the upper reaches of the table.
Barrett told the Limerick Post: “You have to try and get off to a good start. There’s no point in being downbeat about things and saying that we’re going to be in a relegation battle. If we go in with an attitude like that, it sends out a message and everyone feels down about themselves.
“We’ll take it game by game and we’ll try to win as many games as we can. We’ll try to finish as high as we can possibly finish. I think that’s the only way to approach sport.”
Limerick’s Premier Division campaign begins on Saturday night when they travel to face Sligo Rovers at The Showgrounds, having beaten the Bit O’ Red 5-1 in their 2017 season opener at Markets Field.
However, Sligo have made some astute additions to their squad in pre-season, not least former Liverpool striker Adam Morgan, and Barrett is targeting a result against Gerard Lyttle’s men on Saturday.
He said: “It will be very difficult for us. They’re favourites and they really strengthened in the off-season, but we’ll go out to get a result in every game and hopefully we can get one. We’ll look to be competitive in every game that we play.
“We’ll try to win every game we play and if we can’t win, we’ll try to draw. It’s all about getting points and hopefully we can get something up there on Saturday.”
Limerick have had an encouraging pre-season, winning three of their four games and drawing the other while keeping four clean sheets in the process. Last Saturday, they defeated Longford Town 1-0, with Billy Dennehy getting the goal.
Barrett insists that pre-season form counts for nothing when the league begins, although he spoke highly of the squad at his disposal, with many of the Limerick players having worked with him previously at the club.
“Pre-seasons can be deceptive. You might have what seems like a great pre-season and then make a bad start, or you could have a poor pre-season and get off to a great start. We have to take it with a pinch of salt but the boys have done well and they’re training very hard.
“They’re a really good group to work with; there’s no big time Charlies. They’re a good bunch of lads and they’ve made me feel welcome.”
Barrett added that he would have no hesitation in promoting players from the underage ranks into the senior squad and first team if the situation requires, saying: “We’d just have to play the younger lads if the more experienced lads aren’t doing well or if they’re injured and I’m confident that those young lads could make the step up, so long as we don’t need to put eight or nine of them at the one time.
“If it’s two or three in at a time, I’d be fairly confident that they could do well. The older experienced lads are good role models for the young lads and they could bring them on. I think we have good enough young players in this region to dip them in and out and put in two or three of them at a time.”