Monday 26 August 2019

Jubilant Limerick must cope with different role to seal great escape

Limerick FC manager Martin Russell with Limerick FC chairman Pat O'Sullivan
Limerick FC manager Martin Russell with Limerick FC chairman Pat O'Sullivan
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

On the international stage, October was a month where Irish teams followed the exhilaration of a courageous win with a deflating loss.

Locally, Limerick have to avoid that trap. It would be po-faced to criticise Martin Russell's side for engaging in frenzied celebrations after they escaped the automatic drop in Sligo on Friday.

Given that they went 21 games without a win - only registering a first success on August 1 - they were entitled to share in the moment with their travelling fans in The Showgrounds.

It would have been bottling their true feelings to behave in a different manner; securing a play-off shot is an extraordinary achievement.

They have to quickly re-focus, however, and the roles have reversed heading into their two-legged play-off with Finn Harps which starts tonight at Markets Field.


Limerick embraced the underdog spirit to dig themselves out of a hole, adopting the approach that they had nothing to lose when the expectations were so low.

It also helped that teams that expected to pick them apart left holes that the Shannonsiders were able to exploit when they got their act together.

Harps present a different kind of challenge. They are the outsiders who are expected to come a cropper against a Premier Division opponent that finished the final third of their campaign with a run of results more in keeping with a top four side.

Ollie Horgan's charges dug in to come through a tense 180 minutes with UCD to make it to this stage and they'll be intent on restricting their hosts and keeping the tie alive for Friday's decider in Finn Park.

"It wasn't the tie we were looking for. We might only be hanging on by a thread with the standard that Limerick play at," said Horgan, who has injury problems that has stiffened the task.

Russell's men should know the peril of underestimating a wounded animal.

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