Limerick FC make the trip to face Athlone Town in Airtricity League Division One on Friday night buoyed by opening up a three-point lead at the top of the table last weekend.
Having gone three points clear after beating SD Galway at Jackman Park on Friday, Longford Town’s defeat at home to Waterford United 24 hours later preserved that gap between first and second.
The Blues’ next game in the hunt for promotion to the Premier Division takes them to mid-table Athlone Town, against whom they have recorded a couple of one-goal victories already this season.
Manager Pat Scully knows, however, that Limerick will be in for another tough encounter as the season’s end draws closer.
He said: “Athlone are always a tough proposition whenever they’re at home. We can expect a tough, tight game against them and they showed how tricky they can be when they drew 0-0 with Longford a couple of weeks back.
“They will be tricky opposition so we’ll have to prepare properly and be 100% ready for the game. There are no easy games in this league, as last week showed, and hopefully the players will show the same desire and ethic as they did on Friday night.”
If Limerick needed a reminder of just how difficult a season run-in can be, it came last weekend when they were made to earn three points at home to bottom club SD Galway through Dominic Foley’s late goal.
Scully hopes that his side can produce a better performance against Athlone while displaying the determination that got them over the line last time around.
“You always want to play well but it might not be possible every single week. There are times when you need to grind out a result and I thought we showed great spirit and camaraderie last week.
“It wasn’t our best performance but I know that if we can perform to our best, we always have a good chance of winning.”
With 10 games remaining in the league, Limerick lead the chasing pack and, while last Saturday’s defeat for Longford left the gap at three points, it also brought Waterford United right into the equation.
However, Scully is happy enough for his side to concentrate on their own affairs and let others do the maths.
“It was nice to improve our lead at the weekend and when you’re top of the league it’s good not having to worry too much about the results of others.
“It’s nice that we can now take a single-minded approach and not have to be looking upwards at the other teams.
“We can just take care of ourselves and hopefully we can finish the season strongly and remain 100% focused.”
Limerick will be without the services of the injured David O’Leary and Cian Collins for the trip to Athlone, while Joe Gamble is suspended for the game.
Scully is also monitoring the fitness of other players in the days leading up to the Athlone match.
“Dave will be out for another three weeks and Cian is still a week or two away from match fitness.
“Stephen Bradley has a thigh problem and Corrie Treacy had a bit of knee trouble, so we’re keeping an eye on them lads.
“We’ll have to wait and see as well on Derek O’Brien. We’ll make a decision on him later in the week.”