AFTER three defeats in as many outings in the National Football League, Ray Dempsey’s Limerick will desperately be seeking the points on offer against Cork at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday (throw-in 3.45pm).
Cork, with one win to their credit, are also playing for Division Two survival.
In fairness, Limerick were never likely to gain much from the likes of All-Ireland Championship title contenders Derry and Dublin in the early rounds, but were a bit unlucky not to pick up a league point or two against fellow-promotees Louth in Ardee last Sunday.
The teams were level at the interval: Louth 1-6, Limerick 0-9. Not much separated them in the closing-half, with Limerick being helped greatly by a goal from the returning Brian Donovan, until Louth replacements Tommy Durnin and Conal McCaul kicked timely late points to earn home outfit Louth a 1-15 to 1-13 win.
On the Limerick front, there was some class point-taking on the part of James Naughton, Colm McSweeney, and in particular Hugh Bourke, a welcome re-addition to the attack. McSweeney was forced off injured near the finish and is rated doubtful for the trip Leeside.
On the same afternoon, Cork were pipped at home by Dublin (0-18 to 2-10).
If Limerick are to prevent Cork bagging goals this weekend, it would put the visitors in a strong position for victory. Here it will necessitate close-marking from the likes of Brian Fanning, Seán O’Dea, and Cillian Fahy.
Brian Hurely, who kicked eight points against the Dubs, is the one player Limerick will have to watch closest.
As the pennant competition arrives around to its mid-mark, there are still genuine opportunities for the Shannonsiders to achieve results against Cork, Meath (home), Kildare (home), and Clare (away) over the next few weeks.
Survival in an ultra-competitive Division Two will probably hinge on Limerick collecting a minimum of two wins from their next four outings.
To win at the weekend will require another improved performance from Limerick.