Limerick is set to receive a large boost to the local economy with the arrival of Premier League champions Manchester City to Thomond Park on Sunday.
Roberto Mancini’s side will take on a Limerick FC selection in a pre-season friendly which is expected to attract a near-capacity attendance at the home of Munster Rugby.
The high profile visit of Manchester City - less than three months after they were crowned Premier League champions - is a huge boost for the city according to Pat O’Sullivan, chairman of Limerick FC:
“It is a fact that a Heineken Cup game brings in excess of €10m to the local area. So what we want to do is to bring a major sporting event here that is on a par with a Heineken Cup match. The intent of it is on promoting the city and utilising this terrific stadium to benefit the region economically,” he said.
According to the organisers, the fixture is being received phenomenally well by the sporting public. “We have sold in excess of 12,000 tickets already with a significant number of them going to Man City fans both in the UK and in Ireland,” Pat explains.
Mayor of Limerick, Cllr Gerry McLoughlin, is excited about the clash and says there is great excitement around the city in anticipation of the game. “I think we’re a sports mad city. I think we’ll have sports mad fans throughout the region coming to attend the game. Limerick are top of the Airtricity League 1 table and will be playing against the Premier League Champions so I think we will be worthy opponents,” he said.
Mayor McLouglin added: “I hope the team can go out there and perform and then hopefully it will be a catalyst for the rest of the season. Tickets are reasonably priced and we don’t have to travel far so it’s really good value for Limerick people to go out and get behind the team for what is probably going to be a once in a lifetime event.”
Pat O’Sullivan says he is also excited about the event. “Sport is a terrific tool to lift this region, particularly our young people. There is great support for the match around the city. This game is an enormous opportunity for Limerick to showcase itself to a worldwide audience and we are expecting a full house in Thomond Park on Sunday.”
Limerick FC will be running buses from Kilkee and Lahinch on match day in association with Kelly Travel for just €5 return to ensure Limerick people staying in the popular holiday destinations can attend the match with ease.
The high profile fixture, which is part of Limerick FC’s 75th anniversary celebrations, will be almost 21 years to the day since a Niall Quinn-led Manchester City team defeated Limerick in a friendly at the same venue.
Setanta Sports will provide live coverage of Sunday’s match.