Russell seeking protection from officials for Limerick's style
Limerick manager Martin Russell feels that the match officials could have done more to protect attacking trio Vinny Faherty, Dean Clarke and Ian Turner in the first leg of their promotion/relegation play-off with Finn Harps.
He hopes that will change in tonight's decider in front of a partisan Donegal crowd, although he has concerns over all three players after knocks sustained in the Markets Field leg curtailed their involvement in preparations.
A stunning goal from Shaun Kelly has given Limerick a narrow lead heading into the final 90 minutes of a remarkable campaign where they came back from the dead in the Premier Division to earn this potential get-out-of-jail card.
Russell's side made the long trip yesterday so they can be as ready as possible for what should be a tense affair. Their manager feels that a strong performance from the refereeing team will also be essential to their mission.
"As well as asking for big players, you ask for big officials," said Russell. "We're trying to create a better product. There were a few challenges the other night that were let go and yellow cards not given which hinders attacking play. I'm hopeful that whoever the official is (Dubliner Derek Tomney) is big enough for the occasion.
"Vinny, Dean and Ian have all suffered bad knocks. It's touch and go, but we're hopeful they come through. Physicality is part of the game in the right way but when you're getting silly fouls and players not playing the ball and stopping attacks then you have to look at that."
Russell's opposite number Ollie Horgan is doing his best to stress that his team are underdogs. Before the Limerick leg, he was at pains to point out that UCD had been the better side in the First Division play-off. And his message on the eve of this clash was again from the glass-half-empty category.
"The Limerick result could have been a lot worse on the amount of chances they created," observed Horgan, who looks set to be without Nathan Boyle. "It will be very difficult to overturn Limerick with the quality they have. We have to score and try to keep a clean sheet, something that very few Premier Division teams have achieved against Limerick recently."
One suspects he will be peddling a different message behind the dressing room door.
Meanwhile, Derry City have announced the appointment of experienced Northern Irishman Kenny Shiels as their new manager.
Shiels, 59, has just returned from a spell managing in Thailand and had been linked with the vacant post with Irish League side Glentoran.
However, Derry moved quickly to appoint him after caretaker boss Paul Hegarty indicated he was not interested in the role. Shiels has managed north of the border and in Scotland where he was an opinionated presence in the SPL with Kilmarnock.