Saturday 17 March 2018

Russell eyes Cup glory to cap Limerick's stellar season

Limerick FC manager Martin Russell. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Limerick FC manager Martin Russell. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

While there is a certain degree of expectation on the streets of Limerick ahead of this evening's EA Sports Cup final, the defending champions arriving in town means that optimism is of the cautious nature.

It's been 14 years since the Shannonsiders last lifted the trophy and St Pat's aren't about to pass it up without a fight.

Regardless of the outcome of today's decider, this season has already been a resounding success for Limerick as they sealed promotion back to the top flight at the first time of asking.

Behind the scenes, it was no more than the club's hierarchy demanded of Martin Russell's side but adding a cup to the trophy cabinet would be the icing on the cake.

Pat's have endured an indifferent season to say the least. The Saints are also going through a transitional period and while their sixth place league position will not sit well with the Inchicore locals, they have the chance to regain the League Cup today, with an FAI Cup semi-final against Cork is to come next month.

Limerick's return to their spiritual Market's Field home has coincided with the club's resurgence on and off the field.

Russell, too, has played his part, particularly in the way that he managed to keep the majority of the squad together after last season's relegation.

Limerick remain unbeaten in the league and having already wrapped up the title and the promotion that comes with it, there is a sense that the pressure is off today.

As impressive as Limerick have been however, they came unstuck against Pat's in the FAI Cup last month and Russell was eager to stress the gap that exists between the First Division and the top flight.

"What we've done this year in the First Division, it is the First Division and we have to improve if we are going to be a force in the Premier Division," the Limerick manager insisted.

"You only have to look at the recent history of where Dundalk were for example, three or four years ago and where the teams who were on top three or four years ago. Limerick was always going to have as much potential as the clubs that were in the Premier Division.

"Going back to the Market's Field inspired people to come out.

"We were seeing grandfathers coming back to the ground bringing their grandchildren and the new supporters in.

"We knew that if we worked hard this season, we would bounce straight back but that is not going to stop here.

"We have to keep on doing things to try and make ourselves as competitive and be a real force, which is what we want to do."

Limerick v St Pat's, Market's Field, 5.30, EirSport

Irish Independent

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