The Limerick footballers meet Waterford in a crucial Allianz Football League Division 4 game in Dungarvan at 7pm on Saturday.
THIS time last year the Limerick footballers were also in upbeat mood. They had won the first two games of their Allianz Football League Division 4 campiagn and were favourites for an immediate return to Division 3.
But in a typically hectic schedule of games in March, Maurice Horan’s men played four games on successive weekends and won just one of them: against Kilkenny.
By the end of the month, their league season was in ruins. Losses to Waterford, Wicklow and Clare ensured that.
“The Clare game on this exact weekend last year killed us,” says Horan ahead of this weekend’s trip to Waterford.
“Division 4 is massively competitive and I know if you went around to fans of each of the counties in Division 4, they’d be adamant they should be higher up in the leagues.”
This weekend Horan brings his side to Waterford for a game between the only two unbeaten sides in the division.
Horan’s point about the competitive nature of the league is highlighted by Limerick’s scoring difference. After two games, they’re plus three. Waterford are plus six. They meet in Dungarvan under lights on Saturday with Limerick trying to stop a run of three defeats to Waterford in successive league campaigns.
Limerick eventually got the better of them in the championship last year and they’ll need to be at their best again to get the better of a side high on confidence. Under former Kildare selector Niall Carew, Waterford look extremely organised and motivated and wins over Clare and Tipperary in their opening two rounds have them in a good place.
Limerick pulled through impressively against Leitrim and Offaly in their opening two games and they will be boosted this weekend by the return of Seanie Buckley, Damien Quaid and Andrew Lane to the squad.
Lane and Quaid will offer additional options in defence while Buckley can slot in at midfield or in the half-forward line. He’s likely to be held in reserve for now as he comes back from injury but there’s no doubt Limerick will need his class at some stage in the coming weeks. Stephen Lucey and Stephen Kelly continue to be ruled out with injury as do long-term injury victims John Galvin, John Cooke and Jim O’Donovan.
Saturday night’s game kickstarts a frantic month for Horan as they’re at home to Carlow on Sunday, March 10, at home to Tipperary six days later and then finish off the month with a trip to play a decent London side.
At the very least they’ll be hoping their league hopes are still alive when they travel to Milltown Malbay to play Mick O’Dwyer’s Clare in the last round of games. Ideally they’d like to be assured of promotion and a league final appearance before then.
There’s a lot of football to be played before they get that far though. Waterford will provide a serious test on Saturday but Limerick are more than capable of getting the result they need.
They can’t afford to let the month play out like it did a year ago.
March 3 - away to Waterford
March 10 - home to Carlow
March 16 - home to Tipperary
March 24 - away to London
April 7 - away to Clare