Limerick Under-19 manager Tommy Barrett says his players are “confident but not over-confident” ahead of this Sunday’s League quarter-final against Shelbourne at Hogan Park (kick-off 2pm).
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The young Shannonsiders qualified for the last eight as Southern Elite Division Champions and now welcome Shels who finished fourth in the Northern section.
Barrett’s side have been in excellent form since returning from the Christmas break, recording eight victories in a nine-game unbeaten run, and they are currently on a six-match winning streak.
Last week’s final-day success over Cobh Ramblers saw them pip long-time leaders Waterford United to the title.
But already deep into bonus territory – with their initial aim being a top-four finish in their own division – Barrett says the group have remained “level” after winning their first piece of silverware.
“I think we have to be confident,” Tommy told Limerick FC TV ahead of this weekend’s clash. “We’re at home. We’re unbeaten in nine games so we’re confident but not over-confident. We know it will be a tough test. Shelbourne are always a good side. We’ll go and try our best.
“We’re looking forward to it. It’s good for the boys to be in the quarter-final and it’s a good venue in Hogan Park. We trained there on Wednesday to get the boys used to the pitch; it will be their first time playing there, for most of them.
“We had been playing on astroturf at home recently. It wasn’t ideal – we’re glad to be back on grass. The aim now is to beat Shelbourne, hopefully. We’ll take it game-by-game. We’ll be going out to win, as we do in every game. Hopefully we can get a result on Sunday.
“I think the boys are fairly level all the time, in fairness to them. We never got too excited when we lost, we never got too excited when we drew and we never get too excited when we win.
“They’re a good level group. Most of them know they have next year and a lot of them have the year after as well to go. The end goal is to get in the first team so we try to keep them as level as possible. They’re a good group of lads and they do that themselves anyway.
“I’ve seen bits and pieces of Shelbourne. We looked at them in a game against Bohs a few weeks back, the same day as we were playing Shamrock Rovers, and they looked a decent outfit in fairness.
“They’ve always been there or thereabouts in the Elite Division for the last number of years. They’ll be a tough team to beat.”
In team news, Limerick could be boosted by the inclusion of midfielder Val Feeney, forward Ross Mann and joint-top scorer Seán McSweeney if they are not involved with the first team against Bray Wanderers on Saturday evening.
Barrett, though, will have to make do without the services of 17-year-old centre-half Paudie O’Connor once again while versatile left-sided player Alan Murphy (foot) is out for the rest of the season.
“I’m not sure what I’ll have until after the Bray game on Saturday because there are a few lads in with the first team, which is what we want,” Tommy explained.
“We don’t really want those boys back – Paudie is up with the first team now. I think he needs to stay there. I’d rather him stay there. We might have Ross, Val or Seán if they don’t get game-time on Saturday. We might have full use of them.
“Alan is out. He has a broken bone in his foot so he’ll be out until the end of the season. Other than that, we should have more or less a full squad, bar Paudie.”
Shels qualified for the quarter-finals by moving above Dundalk on the last day of the Northern Elite Division season thanks to a 2-0 home win over Sligo Rovers coupled with the young Lilywhites’ defeat at Derry City.
Admission on Sunday is €5. Under-16s go free. Get along and support our young Blues!
Preview Date: Thursday 9 April 2015