Plenty of key games down for decision on the junior soccer front this weekend

There are some key league and cup clashes down for decision locally this weekend.

The PJ Matthews Premier League returns this Sunday morning with three extremely important fixtures taking place. All premier league fixtures kick off at 11am. All Munster Junior Cup games and the re-scheduled FAI Junior Cup match between Pike and Kilfrush will take place at 2pm on Sunday afternoon.

Relegation threatened duo Hoylcross and Moyross face off in Holycross in the premier league. The hosts have failed to pick up a single point so far this season and suffered another blow last weekend with a crushing 2-4 home defeat at the hands of 1B side Shelbourne in the FAI Junior Cup. However, with Moyross only four points better off with a game more played and currently second from bottom, Holycross will certainly fancy their chances of survival should they earn all three points. On the other hand, if Moyross manage to take all three points, it would leave Holycross seven points from safety with almost half the league season played. Neither side has found any sort of form so far this year and both come into the game off the back of heavy defeats with the northside club losing 2-6 in their last outing against Kilmallock.

Aisling Annacotty play host to high flying Janesboro in Annacotty. ‘Boro arrive in Annacotty off the back of a 3-1 win in the FAI Junior Cup over city rivals Ballynanty. Two goals from Aaron Nunan and one from Keith Mawdsley set the southsiders on their way to the fifth round. Shane O’Hanlon’s side will be looking to extend their lead at the top to at least six points as nearest rivals Regional United are not in league action. Aisling Annacotty have had a mixed season so far. Despite coming under criticism, particularly after their FAI Junior Cup exit at the hands of 2A side Hyde Rangers, Mike McCarthy’s team have won five games from 11 and have drawn one. Considering the level playing field which exists between at least the top nine clubs in the city’s top division, their current position of 7th can be viewed as a solid showing. Last season’s Touhy Cup win, the club’s first trophy in 39 years, may have raised expectations for this season. However, a victory over the leaders could see Aisling leapfrog both Nenagh and Pike into fifth position as well as being just three points from 4th, albeit with more games played.

Ballynanty Rovers make the trip to Kilmallock looking to bounce back from a difficult week. The northside club were eliminated from both the FAI Junior Cup and Touhy cup with the space of three days. Considering the recruitment drive which has seen former Limerick FC duo Shaun Kelly and Clyde O’Connell arrive to the club as well as Joel Coustrain, Dave Donnan and the returning Stephen McNamara, it has been a disappointing campaign so far for Tom Daly’s men. However, ‘Balla drew Janesboro in both the Munster Junior Cup and the FAI Junior Cup which could not have been tougher. Wednesday night’s defeat to Carew Park would have been particularly hard to take as Ballynanty fought back from 2-0 down to lead 3-2 thanks to goals from Kevin Nolan and two from Eddie Byrnes. However, Keegan Park equalised for Carew Park who were victorious in the penalty shoot-out. Kilmallock sit in eight place in the premier league and are just five points clear of the bottom two before this encounter. Manager Pat O’Byrne will want to ensure premier division survival at the earliest possible time. Barry Sheedy will be key for Kilmallock.

As previously mentioned, there are three games taking place in the Munster Junior Cup on Sunday which all kick off at 2pm. Murroe host Regional B, Hill Celtic play Caherdavin at Hogan Park and Carew Park are at home to division 1B leaders Coonagh.

Following a shaky start to the season 1A side Murroe have steadied the ship and are currently just outside the top four promotion chasing pack in fifth place. They have picked up some impressive results along the way although they were beaten 1-0 away to Summerville in their last outing to severely dent any promotion aspirations of their own. Murroe will certainly be expecting to beat 1B side Regional United who have endured a mixed season. Although it was just two years ago that the Regional B team ran giants St. Michaels close in the quarter-final of the Munster Junior Cup.

Hill Celtic will be buoyed by advancing to the fifth round of the FAI Junior Cup where they will face either Pike Rovers or Kilfrush Crusaders at Hogan Park. They entertain Caherdavin Celtic who occupy one of the relegation places in 1B. Caherdavin have had a poor season in comparison with their performances in 2016, where they were in contention for a promotion place until the final week of the season.

Carew Park will be expected to progress against visitors Coonagh on Sunday. Coonagh are flying in 1B and are top of the pile. Former Carew Park striker Mark McGrath returned to his schoolboy club at the beginning of the season and will be hoping to lead his side to an upset.

Furthermore, Pike Rovers will host Kilfrush Crusaders in the re-scheduled fixture in the fourth round of the FAI Junior Cup. Kilfrush lost home advantage as their pitch was deemed unplayable last weekend. Therefore, any realistic chance of an upset for the 1B side may have ended.

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Adrian Finnin

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