LISTEN: Limerick Senior Football Championship 2018 Preview

The Limerick SFC for 2018 kicks off this Thursday with 12 teams battling out for the Championship. Last year saw Adare claim a first title at the grade after they won the Intermediate championship just 12 months prior to that. The action begins on Thursday with the champions in action against Drom-Broadford while Na Piarsaigh off the back of their All Ireland Hurling heartache take on Monaleen.

Friday sees St Senans return to senior action as they face Ballylanders. Oola face Fr Caseys in Group 2 the same evening. Sunday will see a battle of the west as St Kierans take on Ballysteen with the action rounding up on Tuesday with the meeting of Newcastek and St Patricks.

The following weekend sees round two take place before a near 12 week hiatus from the championship that will make way for the senior hurling championship and the inter-county championships to begin. Below we give a brief summary of what each team’s chances are ahead of the opening round.

Group 1

Adare

Management: Harry GleesonNiall Crowley and Maurice Horan

Rising Star: Mark Connolly

County Representatives: David Connolly, Robbie Bourke, Paul Maher, Davy Lyons & Shane Doherty

Last Year: Champions

Outright Odds: 9/2

Adare will find it hard to match the undisputed success that was 2017 that wielded a maiden Limerick Senior Football Championship. The aim this year will be to defend their title and make it three championships in a row after winning the Intermediate title in 2016. Two U21 titles in the past three years is a signal of the young talent in the side who will be confident of going all the way again.

Harry Gleeson-

“Last year we said said as long as we get our own act together and then if you’re good enough you’re good enough… I have a motto, you never lose, you either win or you learn…

“We missed several weeks with bad weather but everybody else has the same problem. We are where we are and we’re going to find out where that is on Thursday.”

Prediction: Semi-Final

Dromcollogher-Broadford

Management: Mike Quaid, Tony O’Brien, Tom McGarry & Eoin Barry

One to Watch: Damein Lacey

County Representative: Cillian Fahy & Gareth Noonan

Last Year: Semi-Finalists

Outright Odds: 5/1

Drom-Broadford reached the semi-finals of the competition last time out after a highly impressive group campaign that saw them finish top of their group. Unexpectedly they were put to the sword in the semis however, by a well-drilled Adare side. Despite being a side in transition, Drom have reached the semi-final stages a record 18 times on the bounce and have seven titles to their credit since the turn of the century. Expect more of the same this time around.

Prediction: Semi-Final

Monaleen

Manager: Andy Lacey & Joe Hayes

One to Watch: Daniel Enright

County Representatives: Donal O’Sullivan & Shane Cusack

Last Year: Final

Outright Odds: 3/1 (F)

Monaleen will be disappointed with their last campaign after surrendering their title in the semi final, limping out of the championship at the hands of Newcastle West. They retain majority of the side from 2016 and will no doubt be one of the favourites once more. The minor championship side of two years ago will be expected to provide some spark to an aging squad.

Prediction: Finalists

Na Piarsaigh

Management: Cathal Minihane & Neil Conway

One to Watch: Gordon Browne

County Representatives: Kieran Daly.

Last Year: Group Stage

Outright Odds: 16/1

Na Piarsaigh will once again be hampered by their hurlers progression to the All Ireland Final with a number of players equally adept at both codes. Into their fourth year in the Senior ranks, much has been made of this Na Piarsaigh side but to no avail. Will be doing well to make it past the group stages but with a full strength side they could put it up to anyone.

Eoin Joy (Player)

“We’re going well. We went back a lot earlier this year…We were back the first week in January…(Na Piarsaigh hurlers) They’re our role models, they’re so professional, they put everything into it… We’ve got a few young lads back and as I said we’re training hard so we’re taking it game by game.”

Prediction: Group Stage

St Senans

Manager: Damien Fitzgibbon, Shane Kelly, Pat O’Shaughnessy, & John O’Hanlon

One to Watch: Richard Hayes

County Representatives: Raymond Flaherty.

Last Year: Intermediate Champions

Outright Odds: 14/1

St Senans long-awaited return to the senior ranks was confirmed last October with a convincing win over Galbally in the Intermediate final. The years away from Senior has seen a number of young players arrive to complement the experienced core of the west side. They will take confidence from Adare who followed up promotion by winning the senior championship at the first try. They face Ballylanders in the opening round and a win here will open up a world of possibilities to the promoted side.

Prediction: Group Stage

Ballylanders

Manager: Mike Fox, Johnny Murphy, Eamonn Dineen & Paul Lonergan.

One to Watch: Danny Frewen

County Representatives: N/A

Last Year: Quarter Final

Outright Odds: 16/1

Ballylanders reached the quarter-finals last time out after finding themselves in the relegation final the previous year. They will be looking to continue this progress as they still contain a number of the panel from the 2014 County Championship run. Similar to their opponents, their first game of the group will go a long way in determining their progression through the championship.

Prediction: Group Stages

Group 2

Newcastle West

Manager: Martin Horgan, Liam Brosnan, Tony Kelly & Joe McMahon

One to Watch: Diarmaid Kelly

County Representatives: Jamie Lee, Andrew Ruddle & Iain Corbett

Last Year: Finalists

Outright Odds: 9/2

Newcastle will be ruing missed chances last time out as they surrendered a late lead against Adare to lose the county final by a whisker. Newcastle began the campaign last time out so impressively, easily dispatching St Pats and Ballylanders in the opening two rounds before losing momentum against Ballysteen and Oola. Have arguably the strongest panel in the county and on their day are a match for anyone. Expect the 2015 County Champions to have a strong say in this years championship.

Prediction: Winners

Fr Caseys

Manager: Maurice Shanahan, Ned English, Eoin Joy & James Collins

One to Watch: Cormac Roche

County Representatives: David Ward, Daniel Daly

Last Year:  Group Stage

Outright Odds: 15/2

The turn of the decade has seen a barren run for the eight time champions as they have failed to reach the decider since 2009. Last summer they couldn’t make it past the group stage and are a side in transition. Cannot be ruled out of contention however, with their dogged determination serving them well throughout the years.

Prediction: Group Stage

St Patricks

Manager: Dermot Phelan & James Hanrahan

One to Watch: Gearoid Hegarty

County Representatives: N/A

Last Year: Group Stages

Outright Odds: 7/1

St Patricks will be disappointed to have not made it out of the groups stages last time out after reaching the semi final stage in 2016. In a very similar group this time around, they will be expecting to reach the knock-out stages where they are a threat to all. A strong and abrasive team, well capable of putting up a big score, no one will be looking forward to facing Pats’.

Gearoid Hegarty (Player)-“Obviously we’re hoping to win the Senior Championship. We’ve come close a couple of times… Its a tough championship to win, there’s no point saying it isn’t…. They (Adare) have shown that anyone can win the championship”

Prediction: Quarter Final

St Kierans

Manager: Paul Woulfe, Kieran Madigan, Noel Broderick & Mike Barrett

Rising Star: Noel Callanan

County Representatives: Darragh Treacy & Sean McSweeney

Last Year: Group Stage

Outright Odds: 16/1

Johnny McCarthy’s retirement from Intercounty duties may be a blessing for the men from the west as they look to add to their collection of three county titles. Blend a mix of lovely footballers with a tough, hard-hitting men ready for battle. Although they couldn’t make it out of a similar group last time out, they will be confident of reaching the knockout stages in 2018.

Prediction: Quarter Finals

Ballysteen

Management: Cathal Anglim, Danny Fitzgerald & Brendan Guiney

One to Watch: Cillian Ferris

County Representatives: Danny Neville

Last Year: Relegation Play-Off

Outright Odds: 20/1

Ballysteen staved off relegation last time out after needing two games to beat Rathkeale in the decider. Have failed to make it past the group stages in the last two years and will be keen to improve on this. Another determined side who could cause an upset on their day. Face St Kierans in the opening round with the sides playing out a draw last summer in the group stages.

Prediction: Group Stages

Oola

Manager: John Cummins, John O’Grady & John Clifford

One to Watch: Richie English

County Representatives: Josh Ryan

Last Year: Quarter Final

Outright Odds: 14/1

Oola exceeded expectations last summer after reaching the quarter final stage against all odds. Another side hampered by players attempting to juggle intercounty hurling with club football. With a full squad they are a match for anyone with their quick and direct style of play. Open their campaign against Fr Caseys in what they will look at as a must win.

Prediction: Group Stages

Limerick SFC Opening Round

Thursday March 29

Monaleen v Na Piarsaigh in Childers Road @6.30pm

Adare v Drom-Broadford in Knockaderry @6.30pm

Friday March 30

St Senans v Ballylanders in Killmallock @6.30pm

Oola v Fr Caseys in Bruff @6.30pm

Sunday April 1

Ballysteen v St Kierans in The Bog Garden @6.30pm

Tuesday April 3

St Patricks v Newcastle West in Mick Neville Park @7.30pm

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