The Charity Cup returns this weekend with some fine fixtures on show.
The Charity cup is the curtain raiser for Limerick clubs every season before the serious business of the All Ireland League starts. The competition always produces great fixtures as it breathes fresh air back into some pretty intense local rivalries and with players and fans already itching to get back into rugby mode.
This year is no different in terms of fixtures, with Young Munster versus Garryowen the stand out of the lot with both teams looking to improve on their seasons last year, especially Garryowen who avoided relegation through play off wins against Old Wesley and UL Bohs.
Young Munster will be looking to go that one step further this year in the league and reach an AIL final having reached the semi-finals on a number of occasions in recent times, including last season losing out to Clontarf in Dublin after a fine season saw them finish 3rd in the league.
Saturday’s encounter between the two highest ranking Limerick clubs is sure to have some added spice as Munsters and Garryowen always relish the chance of locking horns. Regardless of it being a preseason cup or not, both sides will be out to lay down a marker ahead of the league. Kick off at 2:30pm, Saturday 26th of August at Tom Clifford Park.
Shannon had quite a mixed season in 2016/17 starting off the season with a good few losses before sacking their head coach at the time, Marcus Horan in January. They brought in former Exeter Chiefs Captain and former player Tom Hayes as coach and it seemed to make the difference in the end.
This will be Hayes’ first full season in charge and he begins it with a tough tie against Nenagh Ormond who defeated Garryowen at this stage of the competition last year. On paper you would have to say Shannon will be favourites, but again, with it being so early in the season anything could happen. Kick off on Friday August 25th at 6:45pm in Nenagh.
The other Limerick 1B side, UL Bohemians face a tough task with a trip to Liam Fitzgerald park to face Thomond. Bohs will take a lot of confidence from last year having been on top of the Division 1B table for large periods of the season, before eventually losing out to Garryowen in a promotion relegation play off. Favourites going into this season opener but by no means will they get anything easy against Thomond.
Thomond on the other hand weren’t at their best last season only winning two games in Division 2B and eventually being relegated back to 2C. However, they have brought in former UL Bohs coach James Hickey as forwards coach to try and improve on last season. Most teams that travel to Fitzgerald park get a stern challenge from Thomond and that will be the case as the try to rebuild. Kick off Friday August 25th at 6:45pm at Fitzgerald Park.
In the final game of the quarter finals, Old Crescent host Bruff on Saturday August 26th at 2:30pm in Rosbrien. Old Crescent who are currently in Division 2B had quite a successful year last season culminating in a 2A play off loss to a strong Armagh side. They will stay in Division 2A again this year but if they carry on as they were last year they could go one better and secure promotion. Given that Bruff are a division below this crescent side, you would have to be leaning towards Crescent for the win.
Bruff had a good 2016/17 season finishing 5th just missing out on a chance for a promotion play off by four points. The county Limerick side will definitely be a test Old Crescent and will be looking for a bit of a scalp in Rosbrien. Bruff are sure to bring a powerful pack along with pace in the backline, which is so often the case with all their teams from underage all the way through. Again, another exciting prospect for a match with both teams not having played a game this season yet.