Friday 24 January 2020

FAI green light for Rovers 'B' as Limerick 2021 plan develops

Tommy Barrett. Photo: Sportsfile
Tommy Barrett. Photo: Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

The FAI have approved the contentious plan to allow Shamrock Rovers field a second-string side in the First Division.

Second-tier clubs remain opposed to the idea and are considering their options amid talk of a possible legal challenge to the proposals.

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First Division officials held a conference call last night and have reverted to their clubs before considering the next step after being told the Hoops would take the slot vacated by Limerick FC's exit.

It should be confirmed today that the new Limerick United grouping will be allowed to play in the national underage leagues in the coming season with a view to restoring a men's senior side by 2021.

That has led some unhappy First Division clubs to query if the 'Shamrock Rovers II' solution will be for one year only.

No decision has been made, and it's understood that other leading Premier operations are considering whether to follow suit.

That would further antagonise the nine existing First Division sides who are furious with the approval of the idea given they are unanimously against it.

Limerick United currently operate in the Women's National League and a number of interested parties have come together under that umbrella to try and save football in the region. Last season's Limerick first-team boss Tommy Barrett is set to take over the U-19 side and is lined up for a broader role overseeing coaching across the various age groups.

Proposals were submitted to the FAI after talks over Christmas and the grouping have received a positive response from the Abbotstown hierarchy this week - although Limerick FC owner Pat O'Sullivan has continued to fight to save that entity and even attended the recent meeting between League of Ireland clubs and Minister Shane Ross.

But the FAI view the new operation as the solution to the problems facing the game on Shannonside.

It means there will be a Limerick side in the U-13, U-15, U-17 and U-19 leagues in addition to the Women's National League and U-17 League.

Further details of the Limerick United plan are set to be outlined next week. The group working on the project includes Conn Murray, the former CEO of Limerick City and County Council.

And the Irish Independent understands that former Limerick player Seán Russell - who needed to fundraise to pay for an operation on a serious knee injury he sustained while paying for the club - has been earmarked for a coaching role within the United structure.

The 26-year-old has since retired from football.

Irish Independent

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