Limerick FC face Waterford Utd this Friday night
AFTER Limerick FC went down 1-0 to St Patrick's in Inchicore on Friday night the story of the Airtricity League Table began to unfold.
Readers of this column will know my opinion was always that a points gap would open up between the top five and bottom five in this league and it now seems even more likely. The teams occupying the places in the bottom half are as expected, bar one, as I feel Derry City will move up at least one more place in the current rankings as the season progress.
Despite Limerick’s decent start to the campaign, the goals scored column is the one alarming factor. Four goals scored in eight games is not enough and is a plight worsened by Mark O’Sullivan’s injury.
Without the bustling marksman O'Sullivan, young Conor Ellis has been asked to play the same role as the Waterford man was and in the same formation which really looks a little unfair at times.
Ellis is slight in stature but technically good and is a very intelligent player who makes excellent runs off the ball. He is known for his high rate of finishing, but has been feeding off scraps of late. He has not received the type of service he requires to show his full potential.
People will have seen my suggestion of a 4-4-2 midfield diamond shape a couple of weeks ago which was in an effort to double our attacking options and provide Ellis with a partner. Killian Brouder's performance against Shamrock Rovers highlighted that he is capable of playing at this level.
Brouder, alongside Darren Dennehy and Tony Whitehead in a 3-5-2 formation (with Killian Cantwell another option as a left sided centre back) this could be worth considering for a team that really hasn’t shown enough attacking variations to date.
Moving Billy Dennehy to left back was a master stroke by the manager and even with a change of formation there would be no moving Billy, if anything this formation would allow him a bit more freedom. Playing as left wing back we could see more goals like the beauty he smashed in against Cork.
Shaun Kelly, man of the match against the Rebels, would also remain as first choice right wing back. Kelly is a player who gives everything and is only returning to full fitness.
In the middle, captain Shane Duggan and Cian Coleman are now automatic choices in the side as both have put in some fantastic performances so far this season which leaves one spot in the engine room to fill.
Between Barry Maguire who Tommy Barrett seems to want to play but doesn’t look fit enough just yet, Killian Cantwell, (if not playing as a centre back) and Eoin Wearen, when fit, there are plenty options with this formation.
Up front we know Conor Ellis needs a partner, so one from Danny Morrissey, William Fitzgerald, Colm Walsh O’Loughlin, Adam Foley, Jeff McGowan and Daniel Kearns would definitely help.
Although there is no one as physically imposing as Mark O’Sullivan, a partner is needed up front. A second striker would help to press when out of possession, to cover the second centre back if the opposition have the ball in their own half and to link with if the ball is played into feet.
This is what Ellis craves and what the 3-5-2 system could offer if implemented.
Aswell as increased attacking options, this formation still allows the three players in central midfield to provide defensive cover and should not make us easy to break down when out of possession.
As the defence and Brendan Clarke continue to gel, Barrett can feel happy so far with his points tally.
The coach is understandably cagey with team selection but with newly promoted Munster rivals Waterford FC up next, a team who are flying high and sure to bring a large crowd, the Markets Field faithful will be hoping for more punch in the final third.