Kaleem Simon, Athlone Town, in action against Shane Tracy, Limerick FC when the sides met earlier this season
LIMERICK FC return to action in the SSE Airtricity League First Division this Friday night with a second round Extra.ie FAI Cup tie away to Sligo Rovers looming large. Limerick’s clash with Athlone Town at the Markets Field this Friday, 7.45pm, is the ‘Blues’ penultimate home league fixture of the season.
The ‘Blues’ learned earlier this week that they will face SSE Airtricity League Premier Division side Sligo Rovers at the last 16 stage of the FAI Cup.
Those Extra.ie FAI Cup fixtures will be played on the weekend ending Sunday, August 25 with dates and kick-off times set to be confirmed at a later date.
Limerick secured their place in the second round of the Cup with a hard fought 1-0 victory away to Munster Senior League side Cobh Wanderers at St Colman’s Park on Friday night last.
Substitute Edmond O'Dwyer proved the Limerick FC hero as he came off the bench to fire Blues to a hard fought win thanks to an 80th minute winner.
O'Dwyer, back to full fitness after recovering from a broken nose, came off the bench in the 62nd minute and popped up with the winning goal in a tight Cup tie when firing home superbly from Karl O'Sullivan's cut-back.
Limerick’s second round FAI Cup opponents Sligo Rovers currently sit in sixth place in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division.
Sligo’s squad currently includes Limerick-born midfielder Sam Warde, who has joined Rovers from Colchester United.
Twenty one-year-old Warde had originally joined Sligo on a loan until the end of June, but the deal was extended and he will remain at the Showgrounds until the end of the 2019 campaign with Liam Buckley’s side.
Former Mungret Regional schoolboy star Warde joined Colchester from Huddersfield in 2017 where he featured regularly for the Under-23 side.
Rovers also include Limerick-born striker Ronan Coughlan in their squad. Twenty two-year-old Coughlan joined Sligo from Cork City before the start of the season.
Coughlan joined Cork City from Bray Wanderers, having also previously played for Huddersfield Town after moving from Limerick in 2014.
Rovers secured thier place in the last 16 of the Cup by thumping Leinster Senior League side Glebe North 8-0 in their first round tie at the Showgrounds on Friday night. It was the Bit O’Red’s biggest victory in the competition, beating their previous 82-year-record.
Limerick had lost their four previous league outings prior to Friday's Cup success in Cobh.
That run of results have effectively ended Limerick’s hopes of securing a promotion play-off spot in the SSE Airtricity League First Division come the end of the season.
Limerick FC are now sit in sixth place in the First Division table, 11 points behind fourth-placed Cabinteely with now just those four league games remaining.
Limerick’s opponents on Friday night, Athlone, are currently second-from-bottom in the table with just four wins from their 23 league games to date.
Limerick FC have not won a game in the First Division since their July 5 victory over Longford Town at the Markets Field.
The ‘Blues’ will be anxious to get back to winning ways at home on Friday in the wake of their disappointing defeat to struggling Cobh Ramblers in their most recent fixture at the Markets Field.
Then, Limerick's third home league defeat of the SSE Airtricity League First Division season was a hammer blow to the sixth-placed Shannonsiders' hopes of hauling themselves into the promotion play-off positions.
Tommy Barrett's charges left themselves with a mountain to climb after a sluggish first half display had the Blues trailing 3-0 to the visitors in their Munster derby. There simply looked to be no way back for the home side.
However, to their credit Limerick rallied superbly after the break and goals from substitute Sean McSweeney, Karl O'Sullivan and Lee Devitt brought the Blues to within a whisker of pulling off the great escape.
Ultimately, Cobh's fourth goal of the night from a Dave Hurley penalty proved the difference between the sides as Ramblers recorded just their second away league win of the season.
Following Friday’s game, Limerick travel to Galway on August 30, before hosting Wexford on September 13 and finally facing leaders Shelbourne on Saturday, September 21.
Meanwhile, in was confirmed last week that Brian O'Callaghan and current Limerick FC defender Robbie Williams will take charge of the Pike Rovers junior side for the 2019/2020 season.
Williams has been involved with another local junior side, Aisling Annacotty in recent times.
Williams' Limerick FC side have just four games remaining in their SSE Airtricity League First Division season.
Pike Rovers start their programme of fixtures in the Premier Division of the local junior league with a mouth-watering home game against Janesboro on this Thursday, August 15 at 6.30pm.
Pike earlier confirmed the departure of manager Mick Shiel, just a few weeks before the start of the new local junior soccer season.
Shiel, who has now had two stints as manager of Pike, guided the Crossagalla side to 2 FAI Junior Cup finals as well as winning local league and Munster Junior Cup titles.
Originally from Dublin, Sheil spent four years working on the coaching staff at Limerick FC during Pat Scully’s time in charge and won the SSE Airtricity League First Division before leaving when Scully was sacked in 2012.
Sheil then took over Pike for the first time and secured the league and cup double, but stepped down after just one season.
Meanwhile, in the SSE Airtricity U19 League, Limerick FC enjoyed an excellent 3-1 win over Bray Wanderers last weekend. First half goals from Jack Joyce and Mark McInerney had the Blues 2-0 up, while Ed O'Dwyer added a third goal after the break.