LIMERICK FC’s dismal home record against the First Division’s promotion chasing sides is threatening to derail their bid to return to top flight football.
Limerick have now managed a miserable return of one point from a possible nine against fellow promotion contenders, Shelbourne, Cork City and Monaghan United at Jackman Park this season.
And Friday night’s bitterly disappointing 2-0 home defeat to a convincing Monaghan United outfit- before 870 paying customers at Jackman Park- means the ‘Super Blues’ have also failed to score a single goal against the League’s top three sides at home this season.
Manager Pat Scully may be secretly happy that Limerick’s remaining three fixtures against Shels’, Monaghan and Cork City this season are all away from home!
The poor return of League points at home last season was a major factor is Limerick failing to get involved in the promotion shake-up. Then, Limerick secured just one win- taking just five points from a possible 21- at Jackman Park against the four sides which finished above the ‘Super Blues’ in the First Division table.
Following Friday night’s defeat to Monaghan, only Limerick FCs second in 16 competitive games- manager Pat Scully admitted it had been a ‘huge setback’ to their promotion hopes.
First Division leaders Shelbourne are now 13 points clear of the Shannonsiders in the table with 11 series of regular season games to go.
The top two sides will gain automatic promotion to the Premier Division, with the third-placed side playing off with the bottom side in the top flight to decide the final make-up of the Premier Division next season.
Monaghan were full value for their latest win, secured thanks to a 35th minute goal from impressive midfielder John Reilly and sealed with an injury time strike from substitute Davy Byrne.
In contrast, Limerick lacked any real creativity and composure in the final third of the pitch and were reduced to lumping long balls into the penalty area for three quarters of the game. Limerick’s sense of desperation was highlighted by the decision to deploy centre half Pat Purcell in a centre forward role for the final 15 minutes.
A frustrating night for Limerick ended on a sour not when new signing Joe Gamble was sent off on his home debut after picking up a second yellow card in stoppage time. Gamble protested his innocence to match referee Graham Kelly, but to no avail.
As the Airtricity League takes a break next weekend, Limerick FC’s next fixture is a crucial away game with Waterford United at the RSC on Friday, August 5.
Scully’s men travel to Turner’s Cross to face Cork City in the semi-final of the EA Sports Cup three days later on Monday, August 8.
Limerick FC: Barry Ryan, John Frost, Brian McCarthy, Pat Purcell (Capt), Corey Treacy (Shaun Kelly 71 mins), Jeffrey Judge, David O’Leary (injured, Andrew Bhandarkar 12 mins), Joe Gamble, Sean O’Connor (Sean Brosnan 56 mins), Denis Behan, Paudie Quinn.
Monaghan United: Gabriel Sava, Paul Whelan, Shane Grimes, Alan Byrne, Aidan Collins, Eric Foley, John Reilly, Keith Quinn (Jason Marks 76 mins), Declan O’Brien (David Byrne 54 mins), Sean Brennan, Jordan Keegan (Michael Isichei 76 mins).
Referee: Graham Kelly (Cork)