There are six Limerick sides in Munster Junior Cup 5th round action this weekend with five representing the District League and one from the Desmond League as we enter the business end of the provincial competition. Four of the District League clubs will be on their travels while Abbeyfeale, Aisling Annacotty and Pike Rovers will all enjoy home advantage.
Arguably, the game with the biggest pull will be the local derby on Sunday afternoon between Pike Rovers and Geraldines at Crosagalla (2pm). On paper, it is a much bigger game for the Hoops than their Limerick District League counterparts following their recent loss to Fairview Rangers in the FAI Junior Cup at the same venue a fortnight ago.
In truth, it was a lacklustre display from Pike and Robbie Williams side appeared to miss the attacking influence of Steven McGann, which was commented by many onlookers on the day. Last season, they were beaten in the final by St. Michaels on penalties and recently, former Pike manager Mick Sheil revealed to Sporting Limerick that he felt some of ex-players lacked character on the night which led to goalkeeper Gary Neville taking the deciding penalty.
Whether Shiel’s comments will hold any importance to the players he was critical of is unknown, but there are two or three Pike players who need to perform in order to stave off criticism from their doubters.
Their opponents will arrive to Crosagalla with very little pressure or expectation upon them. Let’s not forget that Geraldines ran Sunday’s opponents close in an earlier league encounter as a late Steve McGann goal was needed to rescue a draw in Garryowen.
Derek Hannon’s men have been hit by injuries recently and influential figure Bobby Tier is still doubtful for the tie after coming off during victory in the last round of the competition. In better news for the Garryowen outfit, Evan Moloney and Karl Turner recently returned from injury and the ‘Dines will be hoping to use last year’s experience of reaching the cup semi-final to their advantage.
It is clear that Pike boast a much stronger squad and have great experience on the substitutes bench. Geraldines will need the likes of Cian Byrnes to have influential games if they are to topple the clear favourites on Sunday.
Aisling Annacotty host Drinagh Rangers of Cork on Sunday afternoon in Annacotty (2pm). Drinagh were formed in 1983 and come into the game off the back of a 2-1 defeat to Dunmanway Town in the West Cork Premier Division.
With the Munster Senior League being the main focus for clubs in Cork, the junior scene is not particular strong in the country’s second biggest city. Evidence of this can be seen in their performances at national and provincial level. For example, Fairview Rangers were 9-0 winners over Cork outfit Castleview just two months ago.
In saying that, Aisling Annacotty certainly cannot take the Cork side for granted and will be disappointed that last week’s fixture with Janesboro was called off due to Storm Ciara’s arrival in Ireland. The arrival of Shane Tracy has lifted the club and manager Mike Aherne hopes to have a fully fit squad available for the tie.
Fairview Rangers will look to continue their almost perfect season thus far when they travel to Waterford to take on Stradbally on Saturday afternoon (2pm). The Fairgreen outfit are expected to bring a large following and will be full of confidence following results this season, particularly the 0-1 victory over Pike Rovers in the FAI Junior Cup two weeks ago.
Jason Purcell’s men will be huge favourites for the game as Stradbally are currently second in Division 1B in Waterford. It is the equivalent of Division 1A in Limerick.
Although it would be hugely disappointing not to emerge from Waterford with progression to the next round and a possible home tie with one of two huge rivals in Pike or Geraldines, Fairview must guard against complacency, which they cannot be accused of so far this season.
Both Regional United A and B sides are in action this weekend and both have been handed away assignments with varying degrees of difficulty on paper. Regional B face a mammoth challenge when they face holders St. Michaels at Cooke Park on Saturday (3pm).
As mentioned above, Michaels defeated Pike in last year’s final at Jackman Park and also won their domestic league and FAI Junior Cup. With players like Jimmy Carr at his disposal, former captain and current manager James Walsh will be hoping his side can bounce back from the disappointment of defeat to Greencastle in the FAI Cup with a win.
Regional B’s squad are flying it in Division 1B and are currently in pole position for the title. However, Sunday will provide a difficult challenge for a young squad, made up mostly of last year’s minor squad. Aaron O’Hanlon, son of current Janesboro manager Shane, is a key player and was largely seen as man of the match in the previous round. Either way, it will certainly be a worthwhile experience for the Limerick side.
Regional A will travel to Leeside where they will face Coachford on Saturday afternoon (2pm). Following a comprehensive win over fellow Limerick side Cappamore in the previous round, Declan Considine and Shane O’Donoghue will be expecting a much stiffer test this weekend.
If Regional A overcome the obstacle, they will face either Aisling Anancotty or Drinagh Rangers at Dooradoyle in the last eight which is a big incentive. Desmond League side Abbeyfeale will host another Cork outfit in Wilton United at home and certainly know what it takes to beat teams from the city after defeating Carrigaline in the previous round.
The reward for Abbeyfeale would be a home draw against either St. Michaels or Regional B although it will more than likely be the Tipperary outfit.