It will be a hectic week for the Premier Division sides following last week’s shortened fixture list. There are five games taking place on Sunday morning and all begin at the usual time of 10.30.
Most teams are a third of the way through their season as the league begins to take shape and ambitions are either realised or reduced with the imminent league split almost upon us.
Firstly, we see the beginning of the 2020/2021 Tuohy Cup on Thursday evening as Coonagh and Aisling Annacotty lock horns at Jackman Park (7pm).
Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 outbreak, there was no winner of the competition in 2020 as Fairview and Ballynanty were due to contest the final shortly after the enforced Government lockdown and subsequent cancellation of all activities under the auspices of the LDMC.
Coonagh and Aisling have met once in the league already with the latter running out 0-5 winners. The game was a tougher task for Shane O’Hanlon’s men than the score-line suggests but Coonagh must improve their set-piece defence to have any chance in this encounter with both Tom Clarke and Nathan O’Callaghan grabbing goals from this avenue last time out in Coonagh.
It will be a big four days for Annacotty who will host league title rivals Ballynanty Rovers in Annacotty on Sunday. Ballynanty currently hold a one-point lead over Sunday’s opponents but Aisling have a game in hand.
A win for the home side would put them in the ascendancy early on but a win for Dave Dunphy’s men would send a clear message to the rest of the league that Ballynanty are in the race for the duration.
Dunphy, Derek Braddish and Mike Considine have managed to tighten the defensive unit this year with the impressive additions of Adam Costelloe, Jake Dillon and Ruairi O’Connell and they remain unbeaten and extremely consistent so far.
The management will be delighted that they have managed to do so without prized asset Connor Ellis. Andy Hall is the experienced official tasked with refereeing the tie.
At the other end of the table, there is a huge clash taking place at the Garryowen Green as Geraldines face Kilmallock. It has been a miserable start to the season for both sides with one point from 14 games between both. It has been particularly disappointing for Geraldines who enjoyed such a competitive season last year.
Outside of the loss of Danny O’Neill to Pike, the personnel are almost identical to last year. However, throughout the current campaign, manager Derek Hannon has had to deal with various absentees including the influential Cian Byrnes and Karl Turner.
Kilmallock have conceded a whopping 40 goals which is the second worst out of all 8 leagues in Limerick junior soccer and is a major concern for the club. The word from the camp has been that improvement will be expected when players return from the hurling season and commit to soccer, but it is already looking like a mountain to climb.
One thing is for sure, whoever loses the game is moving ever closer to Premier A football next season, even with the possibility of more points once the league split occurs.
Pike Rovers will be looking to keep pace with the leaders on Sunday when they host Nenagh at Crosagalla. Robbie Williams side are currently four points off leaders Ballynanty with a game in hand.
Surprisingly, the Hoops are being written off due to the early season form shown by Ballynanty, Aisling and Fairview but outside of a loss to Ballynanty, Pike have convincingly dispatched of anyone else in their path. Conceding just five goals has also been helpful and is a hallmark of recent seasons also.
The signing of Conor Layng will provide an extra edge for Williams who needed more attacking options. The club will be hoping that they can capitalise on dropped points from either Ballynanty or Annacotty or possibly both.
Despite bright performances thus far, Nenagh are in danger of being dragged into relegation trouble and remain just five points above the drop zone. The concession of three second half goals to Geraldines to relinquish a 3-0 lead will be particularly disappointing.
Regional United will be looking to build on last week’s 4-3 win at home to Coonagh with a similar home result against Mungret in Dooradoyle. Striker Jack Arra netted a badly needed hattrick last week which will boost his confidence.
Mungret Regional are suffering with a catalogue of injuries so far this season and are also suffering from second season syndrome as it is termed in the English Premier League. Eddie Storan will be desperate to have a fully fit squad available to him while also keeping the side out of the relegation zone.
Coonagh United welcome Prospect to Coonagh with both sides in with a chance of cementing a challenge for the top six. The winner will leapfrog Janesboro into sixth place with three games remaining before the split.
Wayne Colbert’s side have reacted well to the heavy defeat to Annacotty three weeks ago with victories over Kilmallock and Mungret. Despite signing the likes of Kevin Barry and the Cross brothers Jack and Jason, it is last year’s stalwarts Trevor Hogan, Eddie Brazier and Ian Clancy who are providing the firepower currently.