In an earlier blog I looked at how ex Accies assistant manager Stuart Taylor was getting on in his first managerial position with Limerick FC of the Irish Premier League. With the close season upon us and the Irish League playing summer football I took the opportunity last weekend to travel to Limerick to watch Stuart’s team in action against Dundalk who are managed by the ex Dunfermline manager Stuart Kenny.
Limerick is Irelands 4th biggest city with a population of just over 57,00 and in 2011 was nominated European City of Sport. Not surprising when you find they are home to Heineken Cup rugby team Munster, two other senior rugby union teams, a Gaelic football team, a hurling team and Limerick FC. Oh and don't forget the racecourse and brand new greyhound stadium. With all that competition, Limerick struggle to get a crowd and on Saturday night I found myself along with 1248 other hardy souls sitting in the 26,500 capacity Thomond Park, home of Munster Rugby and where Limerick are currently playing while a new stadium is being developed for them. What the crowd lacked in number they made up for in noise with both sides fielding drums but funnily enough no flutes.
The view from the Home Stand
Stuart oversees the warm up
A local commentator in his pre match analysis noted that “Despite their very positive start, Stuart Taylor's brand of good football hasn't produced enough points to see Limerick bother the top teams in the Premier Division. In fact, Limerick currently sit just two points ahead of the bottom three. “ Stuart in his programme notes commented that while the team was playing well they lacked goals. And so it transpired in the first half at least. Despite creating 5 or 6 chances Limerick went in at half time 2 goals down to a Dundalk side that took its chances. Refreshed by a gourmet burger at 5 Euros, I resumed my seat fearing the worst for Limerick and it nearly did get worse with their defender Shaun Kelly miss hitting a pass back that saw the Limerick keeper pull of a superb one handed save to turn the ball round the post for a corner. However after that the game was turned on its head with Limerick scoring first from a free kick, grabbing a headed equalizer 10 minutes later and then nicking the winner with about 5 minutes to go. The Limerick Post described the game as one of the best games of the season and a tremendous advert for League of Ireland football. I wouldn’t disagree with any of that. Even my good lady who accompanied me enjoyed the game. Afterwards Stuart told the Post that “ to come from 2- 0 down against the on form side in the league, its probably one of the most pleasing games that we have had up until now”.
The win puts Limerick into the top six of the league and well placed to progress further or at least consolidate their position in their first season back in the top league after 19 years. Off the park progress is also being made in developing the club’s youth academy with a link up with the local Technology College giving access to the College’s sports facilities including artificial pitch. If this keeps up I rather suspect we may see Stuart back over the Irish Sea sooner rather than later. In the interim if you get the opportunity Limerick city and football club are well worth a visit.
To follow Stuart’s progress here is the link to Limericks’ official site http://www.limerickfc.ie/