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Hall targets European adventure

Freddy Hall has backed Limerick to push for European qualification this season after insisting they have “unfinished business” in the SSE Airtricity Premier Division.

Limerick returned to the League of Ireland's top flight at the first time of asking last season, storming to the First Division title with 75 points from 28 games, finishing 23 points ahead of second-placed Drogheda.

It was a career highlight for Hall who suffered relegation in his first season at the club — having joined Limerick when they were bottom of the league in July 2015 — losing 2-1 on aggregate to Finn Harps in a promotion-relegation play-off.

The Bermuda goalkeeper believes that Limerick can be a top-half team this season and should at least be battling for the Europa League qualifying-round spots, which are awarded to the second to fourth-placed teams.

“I wouldn't say we have a point to prove, but, more so, we have unfinished business in this division,” Hall told The Royal Gazette.

“From the way that relegation season ended, going on a great run, we knew we had a good core group and we know we're more than capable of playing with the top teams in the league.

“Last season we showed that we're a Premier Division team and when we played top-flight sides in the cup we often played them off the pitch.

“I think with the team we have, and the pieces we have added, we should be in the top half of the table pushing for the European spots.”

Limerick start their league campaign at home to Sligo Rovers on Friday, with Hall eager to stress that his team-mates are anxious to make a strong start to the season.

“Last season was a good one for us,” said Hall, who previously played for Northampton Town, Burton Albion, Chester and Toronto FC.

“We all enjoyed it because we only had one aim at the start and that was to win promotion. We knew the league wasn't going to be as tough as the Premier Division, but we still went about things the right way.

“We're excited and a little anxious to get started, but we know the task in hand and it's going to be hard work to achieve the goals we have set to accomplish this season.”

Hall, 31, extended his contract before the start of last season, despite having offers to remain in the top flight after Limerick dropped down to the second tier.

The Bermudian insists that he was never tempted to leave Markets Field and immediately felt at home at the Munster club and has built strong relationships with his team-mates and coaches.

“Before I extended my contract at the start of last season there were a few offers on the table from some of the top teams in the country,” the former St George's Colts player said.

“But I have always felt comfortable and secure here and get on well with the goalkeeper coach Eddie Hickey.

“The group of guys we have are very close and will go to war for each other on and off the pitch.

“It was always easy to stay and be a part of building something bigger at Limerick.”

Hall describes the latest chapter of his footballing story as a “great experience and adventure” and has encouraged other Bermudian players to consider Ireland as an option.

“It's a tough league with some good players and pushes you more than I had envisioned,” Hall added.

“The fans out here are some of the most loyal and passionate I have experienced. They travel coast to coast with us and to have their admiration is something I definitely cherish and don't take lightly.

“I think this league could be a way in for Bermudians. If they're good enough it can open major doors and give them an opportunity to play in a competitive league while living out their dreams.”

On the up: Hall, the Limerick goalkeeper, is eager to get the new Irish season under way when his side take on Sligo Rovers at home on Friday

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Published February 21, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated February 20, 2017 at 9:44 pm)

Hall targets European adventure

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