LIMERICK FC begin life back in the First Division with a home fixture against UCD at Markets Field on Saturday evening (kick-off 6:30pm).
Following last year’s agonising relegation via the play-offs, having rallied so courageously in the final three months of a season that previously appeared to have sunk without trace, the Super Blues are evidently targeting an immediate return to the top flight, beginning with a visit from manager Martin Russell’s former club this weekend.
Although some of last year’s key players have inevitably left during the winter, Limerick still managed to hold on to several key faces such as Freddy Hall, Shane Duggan, Paul O’Conor and Shane Tracy, while also making notable signings including Aaron Greene and John O’Flynn. However, with the likes of UCD, Drogheda United, Shelbourne and Waterford United all eyeing promotion, Russell’s side face stiff competition if they are to be back in the Premier Division in a year’s time.
The manager and supporters would no doubt have been encouraged, though, by last Saturday’s 3-1 friendly win against Premier outfit Galway United at Markets Field. Despite falling behind to an early goal from Vinny Faherty, one of those who left Limerick in the winter, the Shannonsiders prevailed as Seamus Sharkey, Robbie Williams and Duggan all found the net.
Russell stated after the game that the win should set Limerick up nicely for the serious business of league action, saying: “I was happy with most parts and the victory is good leading into the first game. It’s important to go in with a win and for some of the lads to hit the back of the net, but it’s in the past. We’ll work now on getting prepared for UCD. We’ll focus on the first game of the season now.”