Limerick FC's Neil McDonald
LIMERICK FC winger Chiedozie Ogbene insists the Blues would love to finish the season off with a six-game unbeaten run in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division.
Limerick FC secured their top flight status for 2018, thanks to a nail-biting 2-2 draw with Galway United at the Markets Field on Friday night when Ogbene was among the Blues goalscorers.
Limerick complete their programme of Premier Division fixtures this Friday when Neil McDonald’s men face Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght Stadium, 7.45pm.
The Blues, with 10 wins this season, sit in seventh place in the Premier Division table ahead of the final series of games this Friday night.
Ogbene’s excellent debut season for Limerick FC – when he chipped in with eight Premier Division goals – hasn’t gone un-noticed with a number of cross-channel clubs said to be interesting in securing his signature.
No formal bid has been made for the 20-year-old and Ogbene is signed through 2018. As a result, a transfer fee is required, should he depart.
Speaking about his first season at Limerick since his move from Cork City last winter, Ogbene said: “I am pleased with the season. I scored a total of eight league goals. At the start of the season, I didn’t think I would score that much.
“Eight goals in my first professional season is good and hopefully I will set the bar higher for next season trying to push on, but the main thing is we scored the goals to get the team over the line.”
Limerick, unbeaten in their last five league games, will look to finish the season on a high in the end-of-season clash with the Hoops.
Ogbene said: “We still want to go out with a positive attitude and try and get a result. You cannot just drop the head because you are over the line.
”You want to push up the table and let teams know that we had a few bad results at the start of the season, but that doesn’t show a true reflection of what the team is.
”I think the team has picked up. It has stayed strong mentally to go through this rough patch and we have come out the line today which is great.
“It’s obviously good to stay up in the Premier Division competing with the best teams in Ireland and hopefully qualifying for Europe.
”That is everyone’s ambition, so to stay in the Premier League is a goal well achieved.
”The fans are always great, week in and week out when we needed them most.
”It is great. We got over the line. It wasn’t the way we wanted to do it but we did it.
”A point is a point and it got us through and we are delighted to book a place in the Premier Division for next season.
”I think it was hard work. Over the past 10 games there have been ups-and-downs, but we have faced the challenge and got over the line against Galway United.”
Limerick FC manager Neil McDonald said the planning for 2018 has started already with the Blues securing their SSE Airtricity League Premier Division status for next season on Friday night.
McDonald admitted he faces tough decisions in relation to the make-up of his squad for 2018.
McDonald said: “The planning has already started (for 2018). The board and myself will plot together. We look forward to the new season with a lot of confidence. We’ve battled our way through and the players need a huge pat on the back.
”I’ve sat down and had a think about who’ll be here next year. Once I sit down and talk to the players and explained my reasons why – good or bad – I’ll let you know. There are some tough decisions, but that’s part of being a manager.
”We need to improve the squad and sometimes players get left behind. If they do, we wish them well, and if they stay – they’ve to strive to improve.”
“The basics are there – we’re trying to get them into the players. When we’ve got the ball, we look to express ourselves and that will improve.”
Limerick FC are in discussions with Derry City star Barry McNamee about bringing him to Shannonside for 2018, the Limerick Leader has learned.
Twenty five-year-old McNamee (25) has been a key player for the Candystripes since 2013 and would be a real coup for manager McDonald should he land the midfielder.
The Blues will have to overcome interest from St Patrick’s Athletic and Shamrock Rovers to sign the Donegal native, but it’s understood McNamee is open to a move to the Markets Field if the terms are right.
Along with Ogbene - Brendan Clarke, Freddy Hall, Tony Whitehead, Barry Cotter, Killian Brouder and Henry Cameron are all contracted to play with Limerick FC next season.