Considering the absences that the Limerick team had to deal with, the performance against a poor Shamrock Rovers side was as good as could have been expected. A draw was about the limits of Limerick’s ambitions, and they came close to that goal, and could well have gotten there but for some very questionable refereeing. As it is, Limerick can hopefully take many positives from the Rovers game, get some confidence in the run-up to the big contest away to Longford on Saturday coming.
Going out of the cup is a negative though, but that is just the way the thing fell: Shams away as the first game was always going to be a steep slope to climb. Limerick still have the quarter finals of the League Cup, away to Bray, to contemplate at the end of next month, a game that is much more winnable.
With Longford also going out – to substantially worse opposition then Shamrock Rovers, in the form of Cherry Orchard – the stage is set for the First Division’s top of the table clash in Flancare Park. This is a tipping point for both clubs. A draw will leave things up in the air, a win for Longford will firmly cement their new favourite status for automatic promotion, a win for Limerick could well signal the turn of the tide in terms of the way things have gone this season. Limerick’s away form – winning five games played at other grounds with one defeat – is decent but is matched by the general form of Longford, who have dropped only five points all season so far (to Limerick’s nine).
Moreover, this is the fourth “big game” of Limerick’s season, as defined by the standings of last year (the “big clubs” of the First Division being Longford, Limerick and Waterford). Limerick have lost the previous three. A win is required here, not just to cut the gap at the top but to make a statement about Limerick’s current status – they should be capable of getting results in big games.
Elsewhere in the League of Ireland, it’s Monaghan that are making plenty of headlines, grabbing a point at home to Shamrock Rovers last Monday before besting Sligo Rovers, winners of the last two editions, in the second round of the FAI Cup on Friday. Mons remain bottom of the Premier Division, but only by a point. Freefalling Dundalk may yet crash into the wooden spoon spot, with the departure of manger Sean McCaffrey being almost certain at some point in the next while, though the club might be more worried about the financial issues that are currently plaguing them.
The city of Galway played host to a FAI Cup derby on Friday, as Mervue bested Salthill. But despite the wonderful weather and lack of any other real sporting distractions, a scant 228 people turned up at Terryland Park to watch, probably less when season ticket holders are removed from the equation. This is a woeful indictment of the state of Galway soccer, which has seen attendances plummet to record lows. The absence of Galway United has clearly not resulted in fans of that club turning to SD Galway or Mervue, a not unexpected state of affairs.
With SD Galway and Mervue rooted to the bottom of the First Division (SD yet to win a game this season) and unable to improve interest in their clubs from local sources, it is becoming clear that neither has much of a future in the League of Ireland. Mervue were improving last season but have now taken a step back in terms of development, while Salthill are, simply out, undeserving of league status. The solution to the Galway problem will probably entail:
– A merger of Salthill/Mervue/Galway United into one Galway club.
– If that is rejected, the revocation of SD Galway’s license
– Possibly the same treatment for Mervue, pending on further performances this season
– The re-instatement of Galway United/GUST as its own entity, at Terryland Park, as the sole Galway club in the LoI.
Regardless of how we get to the point, the end goal must be for Galway City to have only one club in the League of Ireland.