|Full name||Limerick Football Club|
|Nickname(s)||"The Blues" and "Lims"|
|League||LOI First Division|
|Website||Club home page|
Limerick Football Club is an association football club based in Limerick, Ireland. The club currently play in the First Division of the League of Ireland. The first Limerick FC was founded in 1937 and has had a number of guises through its history, known at different times as Limerick FC, Limerick United, and Limerick City. Under UEFA regulations, the club failed to acquire a licence to compete in the First Division in 2007. A separate entity, Limerick 37, was formed to replace Limerick FC in the league and competed under this name for two seasons. Limerick 37 has been renamed as Limerick FC for the 2009 season and has successfully obtained a licence. Although the current Limerick FC and Limerick 37 are technically a different club to the original Limerick FC, each manifestation of the club has been the sole representative of senior football in Limerick City since 1937.
Limerick FC won the League of Ireland title twice, in the 1959-60 and 1979-80 seasons, and the FAI Cup twice, in 1971 and 1982. They also won the League of Ireland Cup three times, 1976-77, 1992-93 and 2001-02. The club has competed in European competitions on six occasions, meeting such notable opponents as Real Madrid and Southampton FC.
Limerick FC has used a number of venues around the city as their home ground over the years, including The Market's Field in Garryowen, Jackman Park on Carey's Road, Hogan Park in Rathbane, Thomond Park and Pike Rovers ground at Crossagalla. The Market's Field has always been considered to be the spiritual home of football in the city as the club enjoyed considerable succes at the venue and moving from there to Hogan Park heralded a serious decline in the club's fortunes. The club is currently using Jackman Park, which belongs to the Limerick District League (LDMC), for home games. It has a training base at Knocklisheen, on the north side of the city.
The team is being managed by Pat Scully for the 2009 season.
Limerick got its first taste of senior soccer in the early 1930s when the Limerick District Management Committee (LDMC) arranged a number of friendly matches between senior clubs such as Waterford and Bray and a local junior selection. The success of these fixtures prompted the LDMC to form a senior side and attempt to gain entry to the Free State League. Their application was accepted in June 1937 and a Limerick senior team replaced Dolphins of Cork who had withdrawn from the league. On 19 July 1937, a new, private company, Limerick Association Football and Sports Co. Ltd., was registered to manage the affairs of the club.
On 22 August 1937, Limerick FC played its first match. It was against Shamrock Rovers in the Dublin City Cup, a prominent competition that ran from the 1930s to the 1970s, and won 1-0. They ended the 1937/38 season in 10th place out of 12 teams, but managed to capture their first trophy when they beat Cork United 1-0 in the replayed final of the Munster Senior Cup at The Market's Field. During those early seasons, Limerick lined out in red and white sriped jerseys and white shorts. When Waterford United resigned from the league in 1941, the club purchased their blue jerseys and would wear blue and white for the next 40 years.
The 1940s saw Limerick make some big improvements on the playing field and they were twice runners-up in the League of Ireland (1943-44 and 1944-45), were beaten in two FAI Cup semi-finals (1942-43 and 1946-47) and were runners-up in the League of Ireland Shield in 1945/46. The latter was the forerunner of the League Cup, the third most important competition after the League and the FAI Cup. They won the Munster Senior Cup again in 1948-49. It was not until the 1950s that Limerick captured their first national title when they won the Shield in 1953. They added to this when they captured the Dublin City Cup in 1958-59, beating Drumcondra FC in the final.
Limerick captured their first League of Ireland Championship in the 1959-60 season under the management of Limerick man Sonny Price, who had played for Glentoran, LImerick and Waterford United. Although they lost their last match 3-2 to St. Patrick's Athletic on Sunday, 17 April 1960, they still managed to win the league by 2 points from Cork Celtic. Unlike other years, when the majority of the sides were local, this team had a nucleus of Dublin based players who supplied six to the panel, with five from Limerick, two from Cork and the remainder from junior circles.
The Limerick board decided they wanted to develop an all-local team and so they brought in Ewan Fenton, then aged 29, from Wrexham FC to implement their plan, starting for the 1960-61 season. He was an immediate hit with staff, players and fans and his quiet and undemonstrative personality ensured he became very popular. He also helped build on the success that Sonny Price had gained with the team and introduced a great number of talented local players to League of Ireland football.
Limerick lost FAI Cup finals in 1965 and again in 1966 to Shamrock Rovers before they finally captured the title in 1971, beating Drogheda United 3-0 in a replay. That team included Andy McEvoy, Richie Hall, Kevin Fitzpatrick, Al Finucane, Sean Byrnes, Tony Meaney, Joe O’Mahony, Hughie Hamilton and Paddy Shortt. Fenton also advanced the careers of other notable Limerick players such as Dessie McNamara, Gerry McCarthy, Mick Doyle, Dick O’Connor, Johnny Walsh, Pat Nolan and Ger Duggan. Limerick had captured a further two Dublin City Cups under Fenton, in 1967 and 1970.
Ewan Fenton left Limerick in 1967 to talk up the managerial position with Linfield, and enjoyed considerable success with that club, winning seven titles in three years. The early 1970s saw some turbulent financial times for Limerick coupled with diminishing fortunes on the field. Fenton returned as manager for the 1975-76 season and introduced a number of young players, without much success in the league, but won the League Cup that season, beating Sligo Rovers 4-0 in the final. Frankie Johnson took over as manager for the 1976-77 season and Limerick were beaten 2-0 by Dundalk in the FAI Cup Final, but this was again coupled with a poor league performance.
Eoin Hand arrived as player-manager from Portsmouth FC for the 1979-80 season and guided the club to its second League of Ireland Championship. Tony Meaney scored a penalty in the ultimate game, a 1-1 draw against Athlone Town FC, to finish one point ahead of Dundalk. Hand was still in charge when Limerick won the FAI Cup again in 1982, defeating Bohemians in the final at Dalymount Park. This marked Kevin Fitzpatrick’s final game in goal after 22 seasons.
Limerick appeared in European competitions on six occasions in its history. In 12 matches they scored 7 goals and while the club never won a European game, it drew twice. One of those draws was achieved at The Dell against a Southampton team that included former European Footballer of the Year Kevin Keegan and Mick Channon.In the home fixture famous rugby international Tony Ward gave Yugoslav international defender Ivan Golac a roasting. Limerick first competed in 1960 in the European Cup against Young Boys Berne, but suffered their heaviest aggregate defeat. Limerick moved their 1965 Cup Winners' Cup home leg to Dalymount Park - one of only two 'home' games played outside of Limerick. Interestingly, Pat Nolan is the only player ever to have scored for Limerick in Limerick in a European game.
The most famous European game was the 'home' match against Real Madrid in the European Cup in 1980. The match was played at Lansdowne Road where Dublin football fans stayed away en masse. Only 6,000 people saw a Limerick team under Eoin Hand almost beat the aristocrats of European soccer, the final score 2-1 to Madrid. Des Kennedy scored twice in the tie, one at home and one away. English born Left winger Johnny Matthews had a 'goal' disallowed. Had it been given he would have completed a unique treble, as he had previously scored in European competition against Manchester United and Celtic while at Waterford United.
|Year||Comp||Versus||Results and Limerick Scorers|
|1960||European Cup||Young Boys Berne||(H - Thomond Park) 0-5 (A) 2-4 Leo O'Reilly & George Lynam|
|1965||CWC||CSKA Sofia||(H - Dalymount Park) 1-2 Dick O'Connor (A) 0-2|
|1971||CWC||Torino||(H- Thomond Park) 0-1 (A) 0-4|
|1980||European Cup||Real Madrid||(H - Lansdowne Road) 1-2 Des Kennedy (A) 1-5 Des Kennedy|
|1981||UEFA Cup||Southampton||(H - Markets Field) 0-3 (A) 1-1 Tony Morris|
|1982||CWC||AZ Alkmaar||(H - Markets Field) 1-1 Pat Nolan (A) 0-1|
The club had changed its name to Limerick United in 1977 and won a League of Ireland Championship and FAI Cup under this name. Affairs at the club began to detoriorate after the FAI Cup win in 1982 and the beginning of the 1983-84 season saw High Court action with a battle for ownership of the Limerick senior soccer team. Soccer in the city was suspended for eight weeks pending a decision, which went in favour of Pat Grace, who had the Irish franchise for Kentucky Fried Chicken. Grace changed the name of the club to Limerick City and also changed the colours from blue and white to yellow and green. Limerick City won the revived League of Ireland Shield and the Munster Senior Cup in its first season. They moved out of the Market's Field to a new home in Rathbane for the start of the 1984-85 season. This move proved ultimately to be unpoular with the fans and heralded a decline in the club's fortunes. The 1985-86 season saw the League of Ireland being divided into two divisions for the first time - the Premier League and Division One, with Limerick being granted Premier League status.
Billy Hamilton was brought in as player manager in 1987. Hamilton had enjoyed considerable success as a player at Burnley FC and Oxford United F.C. and played in two World Cup Finals with Northern Ireland. He stayed at Limerick for two seasons, guiding the club to a third place finish in the League in his second season in charge. However, the only trophy won during that period was the Munster Senior Cup in 1988. He resigned in September 1989 and Pat Grace followed soon after. The club changed its name back to Limerick FC, the colours back to blue and white and Fr. Joe Young became the new chairman.
Limerick were relegated for the first time in 1990-91, a year which also saw them lose a League Cup Final to Derry City. Sam Allardyce was appointed as player manager for the 1991-92 season and immediately brought the club back to the top flight. Allardyce only remained for one season before departing to take up a coaching role at Preston North End, scoring three times in 23 appearances. Limerick finished a respectable sixth in the Premier Division the following season and also won the League Cup, beating St. Patrick's Athletic in the final. Relegation was to follow the following season and a long period of mediocraty and disappointment was to follow.
Financial problems plagued the club and they had to rely on the goodwill of a local junior side, Pike Rovers FC, for a home ground for the 2000-01 season. Fr. Joe Young departed as chairman and the new chairman, Danny Drew, took the club back to Rathbane in an attempt to revive their fortunes. The 2001-02 season saw another League Cup victory, this time over Derry City in the final, but no improvement in the league followed over the coming seasons.
The necessity for a new League of Ireland franchise in Limerick first became apparent in December 2006, when the FAI Club Licensing Appeal Board rejected Limerick F.C.'s appeal against its prior failure to attain the UEFA license necessary for admission to the League of Ireland's First Division for the 2007 season.
The FAI's decision effectively disenfranchised the incumbent Limerick F.C. and its chairman Danny Drew, although the organisation remained receptive to the continued participation of Limerick within senior football. To this end, FAI chief executive John Delaney openly solicited approaches from other interested parties within the city of Limerick even as he announced the rejection of Limerick F.C.'s appeal: "We want a healthy Limerick based club in the new Eircom League of Ireland and if interested entities seek a licence, we would assess them carefully for their suitability to meet the criteria required to play in the league."
On January 3 2007, the FAI confirmed that its appeal for Limerick-based applicants to the league had garnered interest from a number of parties, one of which identified itself as Soccer Limerick, a consortium purporting to represent the entire spectrum of Limerick football, from schoolboy to Junior (amateur) level, and operating under the auspices of the Limerick Sports Partnership.
Eight days later, Soccer Limerick confirmed that its constituent committees had approved the submission of a formal application for a UEFA club license, with a view to gaining entry to the First Division of the National League for the 2007 season. Soccer Limerick spokesman Ger Finnan confirmed that Limerick 37 planned to stage home fixtures at Jackman Park, headquarters of the LDMC, and would announce the appointment of a first-team manager on Monday January 15 2007. Paul McGee was subsequently appointed manager of Limerick 37, and signed 11 players before the start of the season.
As of 5 September 2009
Note: Flags indicate national team as has been defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
see also Cat:Limerick F.C. managers
see also Cat:Limerick F.C. players