Rathkeale face Broadford United in Premier Division Play-Off

The Limerick Desmond League comes to a superb climax this Friday evening, when the Premier Division’s top two, Rathkeale and Broadford United face off in a play-off. The sides finished level after 18 games, both on 42 points. Both had an identical record of 13 wins, three draws and two defeats.

Limerick Desmond Premier Division – Play-Off: Rathkeale v Broadford United, 7pm, Friday 9th June, Mick Hanley Park, Askeaton.

There was little drama on the final day of the regular season, with both securing their three points on the road. Broadford eased to a 6-2 victory over relegated Ballingarry, while Rathkeale needed a second-half goal from the head of Timmy Hogan to see off third placed Breska Rovers.

Naturally, these sides have already met this season. Home advantage appeared important – with Broadford winning 2-0 in Cove Park in January, thanks to goals from Derry McCarthy and Michael Brosnan (penalty) striking in either half.

Rathkeale turned the tables on Broadford in the closing weeks of the season, with a 4-0 triumph in Holycross. Pa Wilmott, Jack Hennessy, Thomas Quilligan and Dean Maune all finding the target, with pace proving vital for the home side on the evening.  

Managed by Alan Doyle, Rathkeale are looking to secure the title they last won in 2018/2019. They were also winners in 2016/17. Earlier this season, Rathkeale won the Premier Division Cup, and thus are seeking a league and cup double. Aaron Hogan has only conceded a remarkable nine goals in League action so far this season. In front of him is Eoin Barry, while further up the field, Dean Maune, Thomas Qulligan hope to help an attack headed by Pa Wilmott. They are captained by Jack Hennessey, who scored the winner in the League Cup final last January. Mikey Morrissey, who is now working overseas, is unavailable. Rathkeale lost out to Breska Rovers 1-0 at home in their only other defeat in league action.

United have Jim Neenan at the helm and last won this title in 2013/14. They have been within arms reach of the title on a number of occasions since and were agonisingly short 12 months ago, when Abbeyfeale United pipped them – this despite not losing a league game. Served by veterans Ray Lynch and Gary Egan, the likes of Derry McCarthy, Jack Pierce and Michael Brosnan have been key this season. As well as the defeat to Rathkeale, Broadford also lost away Creeves Celtic, but could boast an unbeaten home record.

In what has been a very competitive top flight, these two sides have shown themselves to be stronger than the rest, both recovering from dropped points quite well at times, and both are sides built on long-termism, with loyal, hard working homegrown players prominent.

Prediction: Rathkeale 1-0 Broadford United – Rathkeale’s robust, experienced defence has been in decent form all season – while they’ve not been the sharpest up front, their ability to eke out the tight wins make them the slightest of favourites. A foolish person would ignore the possibility of this going the distance, but perhaps Rathkeale will edge this clash.

The venue will be Mike Hanley Park, which will also some lower tier cup finals – the Richard Hogan Cup and Reidy Cup taking place in the next week.

Abbeyfeale United B will face Glin Rovers B on Saturday afternoon (3pm), in the Richard Hogan Cup decider. This is for sides in the bottom two Divisions. Meanwhile on 16th June, Dromore United A face Glin Rovers B in the Reidy Cup – for all sides in Division One, Two and Three. United are chasing a remarkable cup treble, having finished third in Division One.

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