There are three major cup competitions taking place in Limerick junior soccer this week with clubs competing in the Tuohy, Lawson and Munster Junior Cups.
Firstly, Fairview Rangers take on Aisling Annacotty in the Tuohy Cup tonight at Jackman Park (7pm). The sides have met twice already this season with the pair playing out an entertaining 3-3 draw in Annacotty in the earlier league meeting in September. In the second meeting in November, the Fairgreen outfit were 2-0 victors in the FAI Junior Cup.
Aisling manager Mike Aherne will be desperate to inflict defeat upon tonight’s opponents at the third time of asking as the club look to win the Tuohy Cup for the first time in three years. The success under Mike McCarthy in 2017 was the only major junior trophy that the Annacotty based club have won in recent times.
Both clubs boast incredibly strong youth and underage sides who are direct rivals for honours in several competitions. Fairview have not featured in the Tuohy Cup as of yet but Annacotty did defeat Geraldines 3-1 in the first round of the competition.
If Annacotty are to inflict a first defeat on Fairview in four months, they must deal with the lethal pace of striker Ross Mann, a player we have mentioned many times this season. Mann has been in great goal scoring form recently and caused sever headaches for both the Geraldines and St. John Bosco defences in recent weeks.
Thomas Clarke and Nathan O’Callaghan will have to play to their maximum level to deal with the threat and will need the supply line to the pacey front three of Mann, James Fitzgerald and Eddie Byrnes to be stopped. It puts a lot more onus on the likes of Shane Donegan who must put in an energetic display to prevent Fairview from getting into their usual free-flowing rhythm.
At the other end, Shane Clarke must show his quality when facing against two of the division’s form centre-backs in Mark Slattery and Clyde O’Connell. Slattery and Clarke are well acquainted following full blooded battles between old clubs Carew Park and Janesboro. Clarke is a predominantly physical threat which O’Connell won’t shirk away from.
The winners will make it through to the semi-final of the Touhy Cup where they will face Pike Rovers. In the other semi-final next week, Ballynanty Rovers face Kilmallock.
Fairview will be back in action on Sunday in the Munster Junior Cup when they face Premier A side Atlunkard Villa at home (2pm). Jason Purcell’s charges will be expected to get through and with a tough game three days earlier, fringe players such as Adam Frahill, Brian Fitzgerald and Paul Danaher will almost certainly be afforded the opportunity to start.
Regional United will be looking to bounce back from their FAI Junior Cup exit at the hands of Usher Celtic when they face Premier A side Cappamore in the Co. Limerick venue. Regional have recently re-signed both Pat McDonagh and Alan Murphy from Janesboro and Limerick respectively.
Also, Tomas O’Connor has joined the club from the Airtricity League. Tomas’ brother and current Bradford City player Paudie O’Connor, has a short spell with the Dooradoyle club before also joining Limerick in 2014.
In the Lawson Cup, two of the standout ties from the second round involve clashes between Premier Division and Premier A sides. Mungret Regional are enjoying s great return to the top tier and are currently just outside the top half in 7th place and they will welcome Moyross to the county Limerick venue on Sunday morning (11am).
Many people, including this writer, questioned whether Mungret would have the experience and physical strength to cope with the demands of the Premier Division but they are effectively safe from relegation already on 16 points.
Moyross are also full of confidence as they sit top of Premier A with eight wins from eleven games. Both sides were very familiar with one another last season in the race for promotion from Division 1A. Also, Mungret edged a cup final between the sides in miserable conditions at Jackman Park. Craig Collopy-Duggan is a big threat for the northsiders up front but the premier side will be favourites to advance.
Corbally United play host to Geraldines at Atlunkard on Sunday (11am). Frank O’Mara’s side will be hoping to cause an upset against a side who are currently sitting in fourth place in the top flight. Corbally are currently rock bottom of Premier A but have picked up results in cup competitions against both Nenagh and Hill Celtic in recent times.