Neil McDonald says “there is pressure on both teams” as Limerick look to take a big step towards securing their top-flight status when they face a Saint Patrick’s Athletic side chasing the same goal at Richmond Park on Saturday evening (kick-off 5pm).
Listen to Neil’s pre-match thoughts, below.
The teams are currently separated by just two points in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division standings with Limerick holding the advantage for now. But the boss knows they would be leapfrogged and dragged back into danger if they fail to leave the capital with a result.
Limerick – four points above the dropzone – come into the game on the back of a FAI Cup semi-final exit to Cork City at Turner’s Cross last Friday, but still high on confidence having beaten the runaway leaders in their last league outing at the Markets Field a fortnight ago.
Now, they tackle St Pat’s, having already taken four points from the two meetings to date this season. And McDonald says while the Cup run has ended, it helped to boost the Blues in their bid for survival.
“We’re looking forward to the game. We’re in decent form and the confidence is quite high,” Neil told LimerickFC.ie. “We’ve just come off the back of beating the Champions-elect, and only getting beaten in the Cup semi-final, which we were all disappointed with.
“Our league form isn’t too bad. We have to go into the game still trying to do the things we’ve done against Cork in the two games, which is attack really well, create chances, and defend as well as we have. If we do that then hopefully we’ll come out with some points on the board.
“The Cup run has been very good for us. It has taken the pressure off, to a certain extent, and enabled people to get into good form. We’ve got plenty of the team in good form at the moment, which is excellent.
“We look forward to a very difficult game, with a lot on for both teams. There is a lot of pressure on both teams, but it’s certainly a game that we can come out of with something away from home.
“St Pat’s have obviously got a very, very good team. They have some excellent players and the way they play their football is excellent as well. I’m quite surprised to see where they are in the league. I thought that they were one of the better teams that we’ve played this season, since I’ve been here.
“But they are where they are because of certain reasons and we have to make sure that we keep them below us by picking up a result.
“A win would be a long way forward to safety, but we’ve still got another three games after that. The league is close down at the bottom and we’ve got to make sure that we keep picking up points to get to that total where nobody can catch us.
“The shape has always been good. We’ve got partnerships now that have played together for quite a while. We have changed the shape into a 4-3-3 and the partnerships are working really well at the moment. Everybody is in decent form, so it’s a good way to move forward.”
Limerick have taken four points from their last two league outings, with a 1-1 draw at Bray Wanderers followed by that 2-1 home victory over Cork. They are, however, without a win on the road since beating Drogheda United 2-0 at the end of June.
St Pat’s, meanwhile, come into the game on the back of an impressive 2-0 win over Shamrock Rovers at Richmond Park, where they are on a four-game winning streak in the league and unbeaten in five – that run also included full points against Derry City, Bray and Finn Harps.
The teams have met twice this season with Limerick winning 2-0 in Dublin in early April thanks to goals from Tony Whitehead and John O’Flynn. In the return on Shannonside in June, Limerick led 2-0 through Chiedozie Ogbene and Rodrigo Tosi but the Saints battled back to earn a draw thanks to goals from Ian Bermingham and Conan Byrne.
Team News: Neil McDonald has again reported a fully-fit and suspension-free squad for Saturday’s trip.
Officials: Referee for Saturday’s game is Derek Tomney, his assistants are Robert Clarke and Darren Carey with the fourth official Adriano Reale.
Preview Date: Thursday 5 October 2017