There are two massive games taking place in Limerick this weekend involving two Limerick District League sides who are competing for a place in the final of the 2019/2020 Munster Junior Cup. Firstly, Fairview Rangers entertain holders St. Michaels at Jackman Park at 5pm on Saturday, August 8th.
Fellow Limerick District League outfit Aisling Annacotty will face Waterford Crystal at the same venue at 3pm on Sunday, August 9th.
Once again, there will be a maximum attendance of 200 which includes players, management, and officials. Clubs will be allocating any extra tickets available, but these are extremely limited.
In normal circumstances, Jackman Park would be taking a well earned rest having hosted all divisional cup finals among other competitions but it will be the first time that a game has taken place at the Carey’s Road venue in many months due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
On paper, Fairview Rangers have the tougher task as they renew rivalries with renowned Tipperary side St. Michaels. Fairview manager Jason Purcell will be very familiar with his opposition on Saturday having led the club to FAI Junior Cup success in 2014 when they ended a long wait at the Aviva Stadium against Ballynanty.
In recent years, St. Michaels have become accustomed to breaking the hearts of Limerick sides in this competition as they have also beaten both Geraldines and Pike Rovers in the final deciders at Jackman Park in 2014 and 2019.
Both Fairview and Michaels have also contested two FAI Junior Cup Finals since the turn of the millennium with the Limerick side coming out on top in 2002 and 2010.
Former Irish junior international James Walsh is now the manager of the current Munster Junior Cup champions and he saw his side beat Regional United B 3-0 at Cooke Park, followed by a 3-0 victory over Abbeyfeale to reach the last four.
Although it is a long time ago now, the Fairgreen outfit had a very satisfying win over local rivals Pike Rovers in the quarter-final stage with a last-minute Ross Mann header providing the victory in March.
Purcell’s charges will be well prepared for the game as they endured a tough penalty shoot-out victory over Killarney Celtic in the FAI Junior Cup Quarter-Final two weeks ago.
There will be at least one change to the Fairview line-up as AJ O’Connor is suspended for Saturday’s game. It is likely that John Mullane will be drafted in to replace the Newcastle West native.
The backbone to Fairview’s success thus far this season has been the assured performances of goalkeeper Aaron Savage and centre-back partners Mark Slattery and Clyde O’Connell. All three will be needed once again on Saturday.
Aisling Annacotty will be hoping to reach their first ever Munster Junior Cup Final on Sunday when they entertain Waterford Crystal. Crystal reached the last four after beating Doolans Cow 2-4 last weekend while Annacotty defeated Cork side Coachford 0-1.
Since, then, Annacotty have had a change of management with Michael Aherne stepping down for personal reasons and former Janesboro manager Shane O’Hanlon taking over.
O’Hanlon knows what it takes to win the Munster Junior Cup having led his former club to provincial glory in 2012 with victory over Nenagh AFC. He also suffered heartbreak in 2018 as Pike Rovers defeated his side on penalties in the final.
Annacotty will certainly prove a formidable opponent at this stage with a good mix of youth and experience. Clarke brothers Shane and Thomas, have both won the trophy with O’Hanlon at Janesboro while Shane Tracy has won the Munster Senior Cup during his time with Limerick.
Conor Coughlan could prove the key to unlocking the Waterford Crystal defence on Sunday and has performed well in the lead up to the game. Waterford Crystal will be hoping to be the first Waterford side to win the competition since Carrick United in 2015.
It is also important to note that any new players signed by clubs for the 2020/2021 competition cannot compete in this competition as it is from the previous season.