It was a weekend of mixed fortunes for Limerick junior soccer as three of the city’s teams advanced to the last 32 of the FAI Junior Cup. However, three local sides were also knocked out including one of the favourites Janesboro.
Wexford based side North End travelled to Pearse Stadium to take on joint favourites Janesboro. The Wexford side have been to this stage regularly in recent years and were always going to provide a stern test to Shane O’Hanlon’s side.
Shane Dempsey gave the visitors a surprise lead before Jason Murphy doubled North End’s lead in the second period. Janesboro pushed hard to find a way back in to the game and pulled a goal back through Mike Ryan. Unfortunately for the ‘Boro faithful it proved to be a consolation goal and one of Limerick’s strongest representatives bowed out of the competition.
The big success story of the weekend came on the astroturf at Dublin Institute of Technology as Coonagh United enjoyed a superb 2-5 victory over Dingle of Dublin. Former Moyross striker Ger Myles gave Coonagh a 0-2 lead before Dingle pulled a goal back. Mark McGrath restored Coonagh’s two goal lead before Dingle were awarded a penalty which was converted to make it 2-3 with 15 minutes remaining.
However, Coonagh not only held firm but added two goals through Eoghan O’Neill to secure a memorable victory. It has been a long time since a team from the third tier of Limerick soccer advanced so emphatically to the last 32 of the FAI Junior Cup.
Pike Rovers eased their way into the last 32 at the expense of fellow Limerick side Hill Celtic. Two divisions separate the sides locally and it showed as Pike ran out 0-7 winners at Hogan Park. Eoin Hanrahan stole the show scoring a hat trick while ex Limerick FC player Dave Ryan scored two.
Paddy O’Malley and Pat Mullins were also on the scoresheet. With Janesboro crashing out of the competition and many of the squad still available since the club’s last appearance in the final in 2015, Pike will be restored as Limerick’s main hope of success in the competition under manager Mick Shiels.
Regional United secured a notable 1-0 win over St. Peters in Dooradoyle on Sunday to join Pike in the next round. Oscar Traynor squad player Evan Patterson continued his fine form this season to score the only goal of the game. It was a great victory for Ray Lynch’s team as St. Peters have made regular appearances in the latter rounds of the FAI Junior cup in the last 3 years. Regional have reached the last 16 and quarter final stages on a number of occasions and will be hoping to go a step further this season.
Arguably, Niall Hogan’s Shelbourne faced the toughest assignment when they travelled to Galway to face Mervue. Mervue took a 3-0 lead inside half an hour and Shelbourne players must have been fearing the worst at this stage.
However, the northside club showed great character as a goal from substitute Ciaran Cummins and a wonder strike from Brendan O’Dwyer brought Shels right back into the game. They pushed hard but Mervue hung on and were relieved to hear the full time whistle. It was a great performance by the 1B side who would been tipped by many to be easily beaten on paper.
In the PJ Matthews Premier League, Ballynanty earned a 0-3 win away at bottom side Holycross. Holycross were helped by Fairview who defeated Charleville 3-2 at the Fairgreen. It was a clean sweep of defeats for the relegation threatened sides as Moyross were beaten 3-0 away at Carew Park.