European hopes fading as Limerick FC face Derry City

Neil McDonald's side in must win Sunday fixture

David Byrne

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David Byrne

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sport@limerickleader.ie

European hopes fading as Limerick FC face Derry City

Joe Crowe, Limerick FC's new signing in action against St Pats last weekend

LIMERICK FC travel to Donegal this Sunday to take on an in-form Derry City side in a fixture that starts a run of difficult games for Neil McDonald's side. (kick-off 5pm)

Sixth-placed Limerick will be looking to produce an improved performance in front of goal following their scoreless draw last Saturday when a lacklustre display at home to Sligo Rovers frustrated the Shannonsiders.

With upcoming ties against three of the top four sides, Limerick face a tough run of games as they continue to look over their shoulder following disappointing results in recent weeks.

The Super Blues have been dealt a huge setback in their chase for European football next season following an inconsistent run of form which will be difficult to improve on with upcoming fixtures against Derry City, Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers.

Saturday's draw sees McDonald's side sit just six points clear of the relegation zone and despite having a game in hand over clubs at the bottom the Limerick manager will be hoping to claim three valuable Premier Division points on Sunday.

Despite Limerick's failure to find the back of the net at the Markets Field against a resilient Sligo Rovers side, Neil McDonald was adamant to point at the positives from Saturday's game.

"The back four have worked hard over the last few weeks to try and keep a clean sheet and we have done that.

"So, well done to the team for keeping a clean sheet but we can do better in finishing and in scoring," said the upbeat Limerick FC manager.

Following Saturday's stalemate, questions were asked whether Limerick’s European ambitions were a realistic aim this season but McDonald was optimistic following the game.

"It’s always a point gained, without a shadow of a doubt. We are disappointed that we didn’t get the three points to move further away (from the relegation zone) and closer to the top but that’s a point further away and a point closer.

"We are closer to the top than we are to the bottom. I’m disappointed that we didn’t score at least one of the chances we created," added McDonald.

The Englishman will plan for Sunday's vital clash with The Candystripes without the services of midfielder Ian Turner who has left the club to join relegation threatened St. Patrick's Athletic.

Turner's search for more regular first-team football has left question marks over Limerick's squad depth coming into a tough run of fixtures.

With the open transfer window due to close on July 31, McDonald will have August to potentially sign out of contract players as he continues to put his stamp on the squad.

In the build-up to Sunday's game, Limerick played Pike Rovers in a friendly on Tuesday which featured three trialists and squad members who didn't appear against Sligo last weekend.

Two goals from one of the featuring trialists, the first a penalty, shared the spoils in a 2-2 draw at the Pike Field.

Turning to underage news, Limerick welcome Bray Wanderers for an important SSE Airtricity Under-19 Southern Elite Division clash at UL on Saturday afternoon, kick-off 2pm, as Tommy Barrett's side look to maintain their quest for a top-four finish.

Maginn Park in Buncrana will be the venue for the senior side's vital SSE Airtricity League Premier Division clash with Derry City on Sunday with three precious points up for grabs for the European spot hopefuls.

Limerick's last trip to the County Donegal town, which will host Derry City games for the 2017 season, resulted in a 1-1 draw against Kenny Shiels' team.

McDonald will make the long trip north with a couple of injury concerns as he prepares without Shaun Kelly, who remains on the sidelines with an ankle injury. Defender Barry Cotter is also doubtful as he recovers from an injury picked up in May.