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Ballynanty and Pike meet in top of the table clash

There are a full set of fixtures in the Limerick District League Premier Division set for Sunday morning (10.30). The biggest tie will see the division’s top two side’s meet at Limerick Institute of Technology as Ballynanty host Pike Rovers.

Both sides are unbeaten so far this season and it promises to be a mouth watering clash. Ballynanty will be hoping that new striker Connor Ellis can maintain his form which saw the former Limerick FC and Cork City man net two hattricks in his first two games against Mungret and Nenagh.

There is no doubting that Pat Mullins, Wayne Colbert or Eddie O’Doonovan, if that is the chosen two, will have a tough day at the office. With his pace, O’Donovan may be tasked with trying to quell the influence of Ellis. Both sides have been free scoring thus far with both looking to end their respective title droughts this season, with Pike’s being significantly lesser than the northsiders.

With two of the meanest defences in the league also, the winner will receive a big psychological advantage despite how early the fixture is into the season.

Another big fixture sees third placed Regional United face fourth place Fairview Rangers at Dooradoyle. Both sides have had decent starts to the season but given the difference in squad depth, Regional will be the happier with their steady opening.

Last weekend, Shane O’Donoghue’s side got back on track following a surprise 2-0 defeat to Connagh when they defeated struggling Prospect 4-2. Outside of a narrow 3-2 loss to Janesboro at Dooradoyle, it looks like Regional will be reliant on good home form again this season to keep them in touch with the leaders and it makes Sunday a very important game.

Regional have benefitted from introducing players from last year’s successful minor squad and youngster Ewan O’Brien bagged a brace against Prospect while impressing since joining the junior side. Also former Charleville striker Shane Dillon has proved an asset with his blistering pace.

Jason Purcell’s Fairview are just three points off the top of the league despite enduring a relatively slow start. The squad underwent a huge overhaul in the summer with no fewer than eight first team players joining the club.

With many of those players being seasoned Premier Division players, expectations went through the roof as the Fairgreen outfit were tipped as joint favourites for the league title. By and large things have gone to plan outside of two slip-ups against an understrength Ballynanty side and Aisling Annacotty. A home draw with Pike can never be scoffed at in any season.

With a front line consisting of Daragh Rainsford, Ross Mann and James Fitzgerald/Eddie Byrnes, it is no surprise that Fairview are the second highest scorers in the division and also boast a mean defence with just six conceded. Purcell’s side need to send out a real statement by beating a big team in the division and will need the win in Dooradoyle to build on last week’s 1-0 success over Janesboro.

Geraldines dropped from third to fifth place following a 3-3 draw against Coonagh last week but manager Derek Hannon will certainly be happy with the start his side have made after seven games. Geraldines have only been defeated on one occasion against Regional and secured four wins and two draws.

Geraldines welcome basement side Kilmallock at the Garryowen Green on Sunday and will be confident of earning victory. Kilmallock are in deperate need of a first victory this season and suffered a major setback in their battle against relegation with a 3-1 home defeat to Mungret last weekend. Derek Hannon and Bobby Tier will be hopeful that if they can play to their potential, Geraldines will continue to keep pace with the sides at the top.

Janesboro entertain Coonagh at Pearse Stadium following a tumultuous two weeks for the club with the departure of club stalwarts Shane and Thomas Clarke to Aisling Annacotty as well as the resignation of Aidan Ryan just two days before the game.

The resignation of Ryan came as a surprise to the Limerick soccer community and the former Geraldines manager had given an interview to Sporting Limerick just one week before his departure. However, following three league title victories in a row and the Oscar Traynor Trophy win coupled with the loss of so many experienced players, it’s likely that Ryan felt he couldn’t take the club any further.

Shane O’Hanlon will now take sole charge of the side as they bid to put up a stern defence of their title. ‘Boro were defeated 1-0 by Fairview on Saturday evening.

With such a young squad available to him, experienced players like Aidan Hurley, Stephen Bradley and Lee O’Mara will be crucial as O’Hanon looks to rebuild his side after losing no less than 13 of his squad from last season. Eight of the side that started last season’s Oscar Traynor Trophy Final victory have departed for pastures new.

Coonagh will see Sunday’s game as an opportunity to take a big scalp against illustrious Premier Division opponents. Coonagh will test the defence of the Pearse Stadium outfit with striker Ger Myles in good goal scoring form.

Nenagh make the trip to Mungret as both sides look to propel themselves further away from the relegation zone. Mungret moved out of the relegation places following a 3-1 away victory over Kilmallick with Evan Barrett, Yakouba Yabre and Keelan Sexton scored the goals for Eddie Storan’s men.

Prospect Priory face Aisling Annacotty at Priory Park with both sides in differing form. Clarke brothers, Thomas and Shane will feature for their new club as Annacotty look to extend their unbeaten run to four games following three consecutive defeats at the beginning of the campaign.

Prospect appear to be suffering from second season syndrome but are just three points off Sunday’s opponents.

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