Shelbourne face off against Limerick this Friday at Tolka Park (kick-off 7.45pm) with the home side having a lot to prove after a patchy start to opening stage of the season.
Only two points separate the teams and it will be a good litmus test for Shels, who won’t want to risk falling too far behind league leaders Longford Town.
Their form is hard to judge with the side earning a loss, draw, and win in their last three games. Players, fans, and management will hope home advantage could help kick start a run of good consistent form.
A scoreless draw away to Drogheda United last week means the Reds remain in fifth place, while they’re now four points behind Longford with an extra game played.
Despite home advantage, they will be without John Ross Wilson and Greg Moorehouse, and target man and top scorer Ciarán Kilduff is a doubt for the game.
Manager Ian Morris spoke earlier in the week about the need for belief in the team and looked at the last two games as positive clean sheet performances.
“The lads have come together, they’re getting to know each other and how we want to play by moving the ball quickly,” he told the club’s official website.
“It’s a fairly new squad and new management team but we’re getting there, slowly but surely.”
Defender Luke Byrne said: “Our shape has been much improved, in and out of possession, pressing at the right times, keeping the right spaces between each other. It comes from hard work on the training pitch.
“We were punished for mistakes previously which we’ve been culpable for, including myself, but concentration is becoming more consistent for the 90 minutes.”
John Ross Wilson and Greg Moorhouse are definitely out, while Ciaran Kilduff, Conan Byrne and Shane Farrell will all face late fitness tests ahead of Limerick’s visit.
Limerick head into the game in a strong league position, one point clear of Shels in fourth, and remain unbeaten in the competition since the 1st of March.
It’s a crucial time in the season for them as they face off against close rivals Longford Town, Bray Wanderers, and Drogheda in their three league games after Friday.
Their last game would be looked on by most as a dissapointing 1-1 draw with strugglers Wexford however manager Tommy Barrett said he saw it differently.
“The lads are disappointed tonight but I’m not disappointed,” he told SportingLimerick.com.
“I feel they have done really well so far so there is no point in throwing the toys out of the pram. As long as you picking up points and staying close to the top, that’s the main thing. The time to be top is at the very end.”
He discussed Limerick’s successful start to the season and their position as an ‘outsider’ among bigger clubs.
“I think you will find it will level out after 10 to 15 games. You might have a surprise team in there but the top four with the more experienced players and bigger budgets will be up there and hopefully an outsider like ourselves can break into that.”
Limerick have not provided team news for this game.
Referee: Andrew Mullally.
The sides haven’t met in the league since 2016, when Limerick won three and drew once with Shels on their way to the First Division title.
Ciarán Kilduff leads the way for Shels with four league goals, while Connor Ellis leads the way for Limerick with three.
Shelbourne’s home league record includes two wins and one draw, with Limerick’s away record being the same.
Shelbourne 5/6; Draw 23/10; Away 11/4.
Shelbourne 1– 2 Limerick
Injured: John Ross Wilson, Greg Moorehouse.
Doubtful: Ciarán Kilduff, Conan Byrne, Shane Farrell.