LIMERICK FC, hovering just two points above the relegation zone in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division, face a critical fixture in their fight for survival when runaway leaders Cork City visit the Markets Field this Friday, 7.45pm.
On the back of their 1-1 draw with Bray Wanderers a week ago, Neil McDonald's Limerick side lie just two points clear of Finn Harps who occupy one off the three automatic relegation positions in the Premier Division.
The five clubs between seventh and 11th position in the table are separated by just three points, emphasising just how crucial each of the remaining fixtures are.
There are now just five series of games to go in this season's top flight. After the visit of Cork City to the Markets Field on Friday, Limerick FC, face away dates with St Patrick’s Athletic and Shamrock Rovers, on the last day of the season, with home fixtures with Drogheda Utd and Galway Utd sandwiched in between.
Should Cork City defeat Limerick FC on Friday night and second-placed Dundalk lose at home to basement side Drogheda, then the Leesiders will be crowned champions at the Markets Field.
Limerick FC have already suffered 3-0 and 4-1 defeats against Cork City in the Premier Division this season.
Limerick FC manager Neil McDonald said: “Anybody below Bray in the league table are looking over their shoulder which makes it very, very interesting for the league and the neutral.
”Even though our form hasn’t been brilliant the last probably seven games, we have won four of them, lost two and drew one, our form hasn’t been too bad.
”Some of those game have been FAI Cup games, but we have still beaten Premier Division teams in Finn Harps and Galway Utd. It is the league consistency we are looking for.
”We are creating lots of chances and we are not really being clinical in front of goal. Even though we have conceded a few goals, our defending has been a lot better.
”There has been a vast improvement in certain aspects of our play and we are looking forward to the game because all of the pressure is on Cork really more so as I see it.
”They are trying to win the league and if we can get anything out of the game, it is an extra bonus for us really given that they have already beaten us three times this season (league and EA Sports Cup) and scored a lot of goals.”
“Friday night is a huge game for both teams, isn’t it. Cork are favourites to carry on what they have been doing, but we will give them a good game.
“We will be right at them and we will be up for it. Hopefully there will be a big crowd there in front of the TV cameras. We have to give it our best shot to put some points on the board and hopefully there might be an upset around the corner.
“Cork are very, very close to winning the league and they are coming to our place. Everyone is expecting Cork just to turn up and win, but we will be doing our best to spoil the party and make it difficult for them.
”We need the points ourselves. That makes it exciting for everybody.”