In this weekend’s Limerick FC column, Andrew Cunneen looks at some of the records that the club are chasing in this season’s campaign.
I’ve noted before that Limerick being well clear of the rest in the Airtricity League First Division isn’t a major achievement given the financial circumstances. It is, however, remarkably important that we stand back and appreciate the style in which the sword is being wielded. I had a chat with League of Ireland historian Karl Reilly about the records the Blues can break this season.
Perhaps the most prestigious record is one held by the Bohemians side from 1923/24. They won their first fifteen games on the spin. Behind them are Sligo (1936/37) and Shamrock Rovers (1965/66) on eleven. Should Limerick beat Athlone tomorrow, they’ll match both Rovers’ achievement. Limerick have been through a lot of drama in Tolka Park in the last decade – should they win there on Sunday week, they’ll go a clear second in that table.
The First Division has only had five seasons with 28 games, including this one. Some of the records available to claim there are: total points (Limerick, 2012; 62), goals scored (Wexford, 2015; 63), fewest goals conceded (Longford, 2014; 19), wins (Wexford & Limerick; 20), home wins (Wexford, 2015; 11), away wins (Limerick, 2012; 11) and fewest losses (Longford, 2014; 4).
The overall record for most goals in a season belongs to last year’s Dundalk team. They scored 78 goals on their way to claiming the title in a 33 game season. Limerick have 43 goals after just ten games. That’s looking very achievable. Obviously it must be taken with a pinch of salt given it’s the First Division, but a record is a record. So for a better comparison, Cork City (2011) scored 73 goals in 30 games. They hold the record for most goals in the First Division in general as well as the best goals per game ratio (2.43).
Shamrock Rovers own the best overall average goals per game ratio. Their 1922/23 team achieved 3.50 per game. Limerick currently sit on 4.30.
Whatever about the season being somewhat easy, the fact that cup runs (semi-final in the EA Sports and favourable second round draw in the FAI) are very much alive as well as the possibility of breaking records that are nearly a century old means there’s a lot to be excited about.
It may seem far-fetched to say this, but Limerick are overcoming obstacles on their way to doing this. They’ve had their fair share of injuries. While some of this is down to training on astro-turf - increasing the risk of players struggling with tendinitis - injuries like Seamus Sharkey’s concussion are just rotten luck. They’ve also spent the last two weeks without the services of their two top scorers in Aaron Greene and John O’Flynn.
Perhaps more than any other manager, Martin Russell is viewed as one-dimensional in his approach to football. In a season where some surfaces are very poor, Limerick have shown they can be more direct if needs be. Chris Mulhall has been an invaluable asset - he holds the ball up and brings others into play when the game needs to be stretched.
Limerick are winning games by big margins because they’re a lot better than the opposition. Limerick are winning games away from home on poor surfaces simply because they’re cuter than the Limerick of last year. This is a huge positive. In a season where not a lot should go wrong, Martin Russell has ensured it hasn’t – so far at least.
Feel free to track the records as they fly in. Maybe some people find the lack of competiveness in games boring this year. Just remember that you could be witnessing history.