LIMERICK FC CEO John O’Sullivan would be forgiven for having a wry smile on his face when the fixture list for the opening weekend of the Airtricity Premier League season was announced.
Limerick FC, on their return to top flight football after 19 years, will host Cork City, the club O’Sullivan helped rescue from liquidation in 2010 through his involvement with the Foras Supporters Trust.
O’Sullivan served as Chairman of Cork City FC through the 2010 and 2011 seasons, overseeing the club’s promotion back to the Premier Division in 2011.
Having spent a time as CEO of Athlone Town more recently, O’Sullivan was unveiled as Limerick FCs CEO in January.
O’Sullivan said: “To be honest, there was something inevitable about it (getting Cork City first up). My first reaction was ‘oh no’, but it is actually a great fixture to be honest.
“I have great friends in Cork and know the fans well. I am looking forward to it.
“From a TV point of view, a Munster derby in Thomond Park, that made RTE’s decision to show it live very easy, given you have two teams who will play good football and have strong support.”
It may take Limerick FCs new look team time to find their feet in the lofty heights of the Premier Division, but O’Sullivan says he has no fears about the ‘Super Blues’ falling straight back down to the First Division at the end of the season.
O’Sullivan said: “On the field, there is no team in the League that scares me or one which will come down to Thomond Park and give us a hiding. I think teams are going to be intimidated by the atmosphere here and by playing at Thomond Park.
“We are going to scare an awful lot of people. I am not worried about us being relegated, not at all. If anything, we will be surprising people with how well we do in the Division.
“That is where our focus is. We are betting on ourselves and I think it is a very easy bet to make.”
The Limerick CEO’s enthusiasm is infectious, with O’Sullivan insisting European club football may not be far away for the club.
“Qualifying for Europe over the next few seasons is a realistic ambition for the club,” John O’Sullivan said.
“You have to strive for something. If we come up this season and consolidate, you have to improve year on year. The following season you want to knock on the door. Cork City came up last season and finished sixth. They will be looking to get into Europe next season. There is no reason Limerick cannot have the same kind of trajectory in mind.
“It will be a competitive League. Five or six clubs will be vying for the top position. They will take points off of us and we off of them. In a couple of years’ time, that is where we want to be, to be the best club in the country.”
The Limerick FC CEO is confident sports fans from the city, county and wider Mid-West region will come out and support the side.
“After 19 years out of Premier football, people are excited by it and that should be reflected in the crowds,” O’Sullivan said
“I don’t think there is a huge expectation on us to be challenging for the title this season. I think people understand that even though we have added a lot of new players to the squad, the lads who got us promoted so well last year will take time to settle to the new standard as well.
“Stuart (Taylor) would probably say he would have preferred to have been in place as manager before Christmas. From the club’s point of view it was important we got the right man in and I believe we have. In the time Stuart has been at the club he has attracted the right quality of player to play Premier Division football.”