Janesboro and Pike chase national and provincial glory

Limerick District League sides Pike Rovers and Janesboro have massive weekends ahead as both clubs look to secure provincial and national honours respectively.

On Saturday evening, Pike Rovers contest the Munster Junior Cup final with St. Michaels of Tipperary at Jackman Park (6.30). Pike will be looking to win their third Munster Junior Cup title in a row.

They would be the third Limerick club to achieve the feat after Star Rovers (1983, 1984 and 1985) and more recently bitter rivals Fairview Rangers (1998, 1999 and 2000).

The meeting with St. Michaels is a repeat of the 2017 final which the Limerick club won 2-1 in Clonmel. Pike retained the trophy last season with a penalty shoot-out victory over fellow Limerick side Janesboro.

It will be the second year in a row that the prestigious competition will be held at the home of Limerick junior soccer.

Since the turn of the millennium, St. Michaels have won the competition five times and have contested two losing finals in that period.

The Cooke Park based outfit have won the Munster Junior Cup at the Limerick venue before, beating Geraldines 0-1 in the decider in 2014.

Mick Sheil’s men have had to negotiate three difficult rounds to enable them to achieve a place in this year’s final.

In the last 16, they toppled Waterford Premier Division leaders Hibernian FC 3-1 followed by a narrow 2-1 quarter final win over another Waterford outfit Carrick United.

However, the most dramatic game occurred at Crosagalla in the semi-final when old foes Newmarket Celtic arrived. Having fallen behind in the first half, a second half Johnathan Grant goal put the home side back on track.

The match went to a dramatic penalty shoot-out where Pike goalkeeper Gary Neville was the hero with three penalty saves to send the Hoops to another provincial decider.

On Sunday afternoon, Limerick District League will contest the Oscar Traynor Trophy final in Derdimus Park in Kilkenny (1pm).

They will face Kilkenny District League who overcame Galway District League in the semi-final.

At the beginning of the season, a failure to secure a management team coupled with troublesome player commitment, the Limerick District League Committee announced that Janesboro Football Club had accepted an invitation to represent the Limerick District League in the Oscar Traynor Trophy.

They were the perfect fit as they were league champions for the previous two seasons.

The Limerick club have had a difficult path to the final of the competition with four away fixtures from five.

In the quarter final, Shane O’Hanlon and Aidan Ryan’s men had to make the long and arduous trip to face the Inishowen League and emerged victorious.

In the semi-final, the Pearse Stadium outfit travelled to Dublin to face the Leinster Senior League which was mostly made up of a strong Crumlin United squad. Ryan Doherty’s goal in extra-time secured a big 3-2 victory for the club and the Limerick District League.

The Janesboro squad contains experienced players with Oscar Traynor experience but as co-manager Aidan Ryan admitted, many of the current squad may have never received the opportunity to play at this level were the club not asked to represent the league.

Ryan is no stranger to the Oscar Traynor Trophy and won one as a player in the mid 1990’s. The likes of brothers Thomas and Shane Clarke will be key for ‘Boro in Kilkenny.

Niall Hanley is the engine room in the Janesboro midfield and will be looking to supply both Clarke and Mawdsley in attack to cause the home side problems.

Locally, in the PJ Matthews Premier League, Janesboro took a step closer to winning the title for the third year on the trot following a 3-1 victory over Prospect at Pearse Stadium.

However, Pike Rovers 2-0 victory over third place Ballynanty ensured that the title can only be decided on the final day.

Just two days after the club represent the league in the Oscar Traynor Trophy final, Janesboro have to travel to Limerick Institute of Technology to face Ballynanty.

Donal Magee’s side were title contenders for a long period until the last three weeks of the season and it will be an extremely tough assignment for Janesboro.

On the same night, Pike Rovers entertain this year’s surprise package Aisling Annacotty at Crosagalla. There promises to be plenty of twists and turns on the final night but both side’s have been incredibly consistant all season.

The rivals have only lost once game between them and it is incredible to think that Pike may go the whole league campaign unbeaten and fail to win the league.

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