The Limerick Senior Football Championship returns this weekend with the four semi-finals down for decision. There are two games fixed for Saturday with two quarter-finals to take place on Tuesday due to Doon and Newcastle West’s involvement in the Senior and Intermediate hurling finals.
Kicking off the action on Saturday afternoon is the clash of Ballylanders and Monaleen in Bruff at 2pm. Monaleen have been very impressive in the championship to date with comprehensive victories over St Kierans and Galbally, despite not netting thus far. Their opponents Ballylanders were full value for a 1-16 to 0-8 in over Galtee Gaels in their opener but fell to Oola to drop to second in the group. These sides met in the group stages last year with Ballylanders’ 1-8 to 0-10 win helping them into the quarter finals at the expense of the city side. However, Monaleen who have reached back to back Premier U21 finals have improved measurably this term and will be fancied to reach the last four.
On the same day, Ballysteen meet Fr Caseys in Newcastle West at 4pm. Fr Caseys were arguably the story of the group stages as they followed up a win over Na Piarsaigh with a highly impressive win over 2017 & ’18 champions Adare to seal top spot in Group 2. They play a Ballysteen side who drew with Drom Broadford before falling to defending champions Newcastle in the final round. The manner of defeat was enough to see them through as they bettered Drom’s result. On paper it seems straightforward result but theses sides have split their last two meetings with Ballysteen knocking out Caseys in 2018 in the final group game before the Abbeyfeale side got the upperhand last summer. Rarely is there much to separate these teams.
On Tuesday evening in Kilbreedy, Oola play Galbally. After reaching the final in 2019, Oola have continued in fine fettle winning both of their group games with a bit to spare in each, despite a number of absentees. They meet a Galbally side who started their campaign brilliantly with a win over St Kierans before losing out to Monaleen. In their second year at the grade, Galbally have performed much the better and will be buoyed by the Garryspillane hurlers staving off relegation with football now the main aim. However, Oola have been one of the form teams in Limerick football over the past 18 months and could well come into the game as Senior Hurling champions. It is hard to look past Kem Downey’s charges not advancing at the expense of the South side.
Undoubtedly the highlight tie of the round will be played out on Tuesday evening with the meeting of Adare and Newcastle West. These sides met in the 2017 decider where Adare captured a first ever title at the grade, just twelve months removed from their promotion. Newcastle West would avenge the defeat in 2019 with an awesome display in the county semi-final before sealing the title against Oola in the final.
Newcastle have looked imperious in their two games to date, overturning Ballysteen and Drom Broadford, looking a step above the rest. Adare on the other hand were excellent against Na Piarsaigh in their first game before falling apart against Fr Caseys down the home stretch. Fatigue may play its part however with Newcastle in a county hurling final on Sunday afternoon with a large turnover in players. Nonetheless, it promises to be a classic judging by their recent encounters.