Limerick might hold all the aces when it comes to the race for Premier Division survival, but St Patrick’s Athletic will hope to show a strong hand of their own when they welcome The Super Blues to Richmond Park on Saturday evening. Kick off is at 5pm.
As the final few hands are played in the coming weeks, it is Neil McDonald’s charges who currently hold the highest stack, sitting pretty in seventh place on 35 points. However, with just four separating them and Sligo Rovers in the relegation zone, a win is vital if his troops are to keep their distance from the dreaded drop zone.
Their opponents too are in dire need of three points, coming into the contest two points behind Limerick in eighth place, knowing a win would see them leapfrog the visitors and put them in prime position for survival with just four games remaining.
The Treaty men will be full of confidence for this crucial league contest coming off the off the back of two very solid performances against the league leaders Cork City, a rare 2-1 victory in the Munster Derby at the Markets Field a fortnight ago coupled with a gallant 1-0 loss in the FAI Cup semi-final at Turners Cross last Friday night.
Speaking to Limerickfc.ie, McDonald was in a confident mood and despite falling at the penultimate hurdle, the Englishman was keen to stress the positives of their FAI Cup run.
“The Cup run has been very good for us. It has taken the pressure off, to a certain extent, and enabled people to get into good form. We’ve got plenty of the team in good form at the moment, which is excellent.”
The former Newcastle United midfielder stressed that if his side can live up the standards set against Cork, they should be able to get points out of what is fast becoming a must win game.
“Our league form isn’t too bad. We have to go into the game still trying to do the things we’ve done against Cork in the two games, which is attack really well, create chances, and defend as well as we have. If we do that then hopefully we’ll come out with some points on the board.”
The Saints come into the contest off the back of some mixed league form of late, wins over Shamrock Rovers and Finn Harps either side of defeats away to Bohemians and Dundalk, but what will be of real concern to McDonald is their superb run of form at home.
Liam Buckley’s charges are unbeaten in their last five league games at Richmond Park, winning their last four while scoring eleven and conceding just three, while Galway United’s win in the FAI Cup is their only defeat on home soil since early June.
McDonald will take solace in the fact his side were comfortable 2-0 victors when the sides last met in Richmond Park back in April, as goals from Tony Whitehead and John O’Flynn secured the win in their first outing following the departure of manager Martin Russell.
However the team did let a two goal cushion slip under McDonald’s leadership at the Markets Field when the sides last met, second half goals from veterans Ian Bermingham and Conan Byrne earing the Saints a vital point.
Limerick boast a clean bill of health for the crucial relegation clash, and with no players suspended McDonald will have a full squad to work with, as he looks to further solidify the Super Blues spot in the top flight with just four games remaining.
Betting odds: St Pats 11/10; Draw 13/5; Limerick 23/10.