The FAI Junior Cup takes centre stage in Limerick this weekend with five games taking place and each team looking to reach the country wide draw. All FAI Junior Cup games will take place at 2pm.
There are two all Premier Division ties taking place with Ballynanty Rovers hosting Pike Rovers at Limerick Institute of Technology and Fairview Rangers hosting last year’s semi-finalists Aisling Annacotty at Fairgreen.
Furthermore, Prospect Priory will be looking to take advantage of a home tie and avoid an upset against Premier A side Newport. Cappamore will take on Regional United at home, with Regional looking to put last season’s controversy behind them and advance. Coonagh United make the trip to Elton to face Division 1A promotion candidates Kilfrush.
Arguably, the biggest game of the weekend is the meeting of two of the Premier Division’s top three as Ballynanty attempt to gain revenge against Pike Rovers, who defeated Donal Magee’s side 3-2 in the league at the northside venue with a last minute Conor Kavanagh header.
Both sides will have aspirations of reaching the latter stages with either team making an appearance in 3 of the last six finals, albeit with no Limerick successes from any of those encounters.
Only one point separates the two teams in the league with Pike having a game in hand. There are many battles which will be key to the winning of the game on Sunday. Striker Connor Ellis is the obvious dangerman and aided by the hard working Kevin Nolan, a probable centre-back pairing of Pat Mullins and Eddie O’Donovan will need to be on guard.
Ballynanty will be looking to prove their credentials on the big occasion after a poor display in a 3-1 loss to Fairview Rangers in the Munster Junior Cup recently. In that game. Ellis was deployed as a number ten but in the recent league victory over Geraldines, Magee appeared to play Nolan and Ellis closer together with Jason Hughes and Derek Daly in the midfield engine room.
With Ronan Ryan limping out of Sunday’s win with a calf injury, it is possible that the returning Dan Lucey will play at left-back. The midfield battle will be of interest with the Pike mainstays of Shane Walsh, Kavanagh and Colin Daly coming up against the aforementioned Hughes and Daly. It remains to be seen whether captain Dave Donnan will be fit.
Shaun Kelly and Kieran Hanlon will once again be available for selection and will provide a dilemma for Magee. However on current form, a change to the front two would not be warranted. However, Kelly could play a part with Mike Guerin shifting to left-back where he recently featured for the Limerick District League.
Hughes will be charged with keeping tabs on Daly, but one of Daragh Hughes or Kenneth Meehan may have to engage Steven McGann higher up the pitch, with one marking Keith Mawdsley, if the Newport man continues to get the nod over Johnathan Grant.
In the other all Premier Division clash, Fairview Rangers will be looking to keep up their great form when they host Aisling Annacotty. The sides already met in Annacotty in the league and played out a thrilling 3-3 draw.
Annacotty have showed plenty of resilience in the competition already as they twice came from behind against Geraldines to win on sudden-death penalties as the game finished 3-3 after extratime. They will need to show plenty more grit and determination if they are to emerge victorious on Sunday.
Fairview enter the game off the back of an 8-1 drubbing of Kilmallock. In recent weeks, Jason Purcell’s side have been free-scoring and the pace possessed by James Fitzgerald and Ross Mann will torment any defence.
Aisling possess plenty of threats of their own with Shane Clarke up front and winger/no. 10 Paudie Walsh in good goal scoring form this season.
In the Munster Junior Cup, Geraldines host high flying Premier A side Murroe and despite the form of their opposition, Derek Hannon’s side will be expected to go through. Now that the Garryowen outfit are out of the FAI Junior Cup, the provincial title becomes even more significant. The game will kick-off at 11am at the Garryowen Green.