SIX games in round one of the Limerick senior football championship take place this weekend.
There are two games this Friday evening, one on Saturday and three across Sunday.
Adare v St Kierans
Date: Friday, April 24
Venue: Rathkeale club GAA grounds
IT’s the same pairing, the same venue and again in the first round for these two sides.
Last year St Kierans emerged victorious 1-13 to 1-9 in the Bog Garden.
In preparation for this game, St Kierans have operated from Division One of the All County League, while Adare are in a tier below.
Neither have set the world alight to-date.
Adare will be without the injured Stephen Lavin, who would be an ideal supplement to their emerging underage talent.
St Kierans are 10/1 for county honours and Adare 28/1 so if the men from the Ardagh parish are intent on returning to the knockout stages this is a must-win game.
And, they should have enough experience to see off what will be a new-look Adare side.
St Kierans on the other hand are very much tried and trusted, although under new management this season.
Ultimately the St Kierans defence should be able to withstand the lively Adare attack.
Prediction: St Kierans
Fr Caseys v Newcastle West
Date: Friday, April 24
BOTH these sides qualified for the knockout stages last year and are again favoured to do so.
But that doesn’t lessen the will to win this west Limerick derby.
Twelve months ago they also met in round one when Fr Caseys were 0-10 to 0-9 winners.
But new manager John Colbert has to mould a new side with a number of key players forced to emigrate.
Newcastle West, buoyed by their Limerick Premier U-21 football title at the end of the 2014 season,
The magpies will be without James Kelly, who has a suspension carried over from last year for this round one game.
Elsewhere they could be close to full strength, although Stephen Nix is carrying an injury.
They are bolstered by the transfer of Steven Brosnan from Monagea, who is an option in defence or attack.
Neither have set the world alight in the All County League but both have big numbers involved with the county senior/U-21 football panels.
Prediction: Newcastle West
Rathkeale v St Patricks
Date: Saturday, April 25
LAST year this tie went the way of the city men with a big St Patricks 3-13 to 0-7 win over St Marys Sean Finns.
Now known as Rathkeale, the west Limerick club certainly won’t be that far off the mark on Saturday.
Much attention will focus on the line-up of the men in blue and white with so many missing last season for varying reasons - mostly injury.
If they are back to the full strength side that won the intermediate championship in 2013 and with the addition of younger talent, their aspirations will be very different.
On the back of promotion and the U-21 title of ‘13 confidence was high and the work of all is to return to that base.
They are under new management and will be most anxious to get momentum.
They face last year’s beaten county finalists but traditionally St Patrick’s can be slow starters but to the involvement of players in the closing stages of rugby and soccer seasons. But Gearoid Hegarty, Eoin Hanrahan, the Mullins’ and Phelan’s provide a massive backbone to their side.
Prediction: St Patricks
Dromcollogher-Boardford v Monaleen
Date: Sunday, April 26
IT was round two when these sides met last year and Dromcollogher-Broadford came out 0-13 to 0-10 winners.
Both have changed managers for the new year and turned to internal and indeed Limerick footballing heroes - Muris Gavin and Micheal Reidy, who is joint-manager with Neil Conway.
They met already in the league and Monaleen were winners out in Dromcollogher but both were down players.
For Sunday, Monaleen are planning without Brian Geary, who has only played club hurling to-date in 2015.
This could be a key loss of a physical presence around the middle, especially with Jason Stokes down on form with Drom-Broadford and that’s not to mention Seanie Buckley and Micheal O’Sullivan.
There will be one key absentee for the west Limerick side with Tom McLoughlin retiring. But they are bringing through some of their 2013 U-21 team slowly but surely.
While Monaleen have Ger Collins, Drom-Broadford could have the overall better firepower.
Ballysteen v Na Piarsaigh
Date: Sunrday, April 25
NA Piarsaigh make their senior debut in this round one tie.
A number of their players could be in the starting team just seven days after winning the county U-21 hurling final - William O’Donoghue, Kieran Daly and David Dempsey, with others like Mark Buckley also involved in both.
Although Na Piarsaigh are the senior newcomers its the Caherdavin men that are operating from Division One of the ACFL with three wins from four. Ballysteen, meanwhile, top Division Two with a run of four wins.
There could be an interesting midfield battle with O’Donoghue and Eoin Kehilly facing Matthew O’Meara and Padraig Vaughan.
Ballysteen’s Pakie Moran is carrying an injury but should start and in general Ballysteen could carry too much expereince for the city side.
But they will have to match the intensity and pace of Na Piarsaigh or their will be a winning start for the Light Blues.
The championship betting odds puts a big difference between the teams but that certainly wont be the case.
Ballylanders v Pallasgreen
Date: Sunday, April 26
CHAMPIONS Ballylanders are in the last of the six ties over the opening weekend of the championship season.
They face a Pallasgreen side that only secured their senior status with a relegation play-off win over Galbally last October.
Ballylanders have opted out of the All County League and used the challenge game route as preparation.
For their part Pallasgreen are playing in Division Two of the ACFL and have two wins out of three outings.
For some like Colin Ryan and Brian Fanning, they will be back in action five days after beating Killacolla Gaels to win a county U-21 hurling title. Pallas will be without Aidan Shanahan (injury) and Willie O’Dwyer (abroad), while Robert O’Donnell will be back in their line-up after missing 2014.
Ballylanders were 1-12 to 0-6 winners when these sides met in round four last year.
From the champions point of view its not the most difficult start but still they will know they have to get points on the board.