KILMALLOCK hosts a double-header of quarter-finals in the Limerick SFC this Saturday.
Already guaranteed semi-final places are champions Dromcollogher-Broadford and Fr Caseys.
ST PATRICKS V ST KIERANS
Saturday September 20 at 2.30 in Kilmallock
THESE two sides were beaten semi-finalists last season.
That is a clear indicator of the upward curve that the two clubs have enjoyed in recent years.
Success in this game will continue the progress and book a last four clash with Fr Caseys.
The teams have met in the group stages for the last two years and on both occasions St Kierans were victorious by small margins.
Once again the margin should be tight.
From the outset of this season the involvement of key St Patrick’s players with the Limerick seniors appears to have brought more purpose to their football ambitions.
There is no doubting that Gearoid Hegarty and Eoin Hanrahan are vital to the city side.
Hanrahan will be the standout attacker on view and perhaps Johnny McCarthy could be detailed to man-mark him which would be a massive battle between county colleagues.
Another inter-county battle could be between Gearoid Hegarty and Darragh Treacy in midfield, where St Patrick’s have missed the usual presence of Dermot Phelan this season.
Key players from both sides Timmy Carroll (St Kierans) and John Mullane (St Patricks) have struggled with injuries and at the business end of the champions getting all fully fit is essential.
The city side are led by Darren Hanrahan and Moss McCarthy on the sidelines and have scored eight goals and conceded just two this season.
The McCarthy brothers and Diarmuid Carroll are massive figures in the St Kierans defence and will relish the challenge ahead but St Patrick’s appear to have extra momentum this season and can book a semi-final spot against Liam Kearns’ Fr Caseys.
They met in the group stages last season and St Kierans were 1-8 to 0-10 winners in a season where both eventually reached the semi-finals and suffered defeat.
WHAT ARE THE ODDS
St Patrick’s are 10/11 favourites with St Kierans available at 11/10. In the outright betting St Patrick’s are 15/2 while St Kierans are 13/2.
STORY SO FAR
Both arrive into the knockout stages with one defeat. St Patricks opened the champions with a loss to champions Drom-Broadford but have progressed with four wins.
St Kierans had the two biggest battles of the year in their final two games and narrowly lost to Newcastle West before drawing with Fr Caseys.
St Patrick’s have benefited greatly from key players on the county scene and if they hit form that could be enough.
BALLYLANDERS V NEWCASTLE WEST
Saturday September 20 at 4.00 in Kilmallock
THERE are many parallels here between the All-Ireland football final between Donegal and Kerry.
Ballylanders have more often than not set up defensively this season while Newcastle West rely on their attacking flair.
Both have reaped rewards to-date from their respective tactical choices but it’s September and October that Limerick club football plaudits are handed out.
To be fair, Ephie Fitzgerald’s system with Ballylanders has them very difficult to break down and they have conceded just two goals and 46-points in their five championship games.
Stephen Fox has filled the sweeper role in many of the games but an injury picked up in the last round makes him a doubt - last weekend he didn’t line out for the Glenroe hurlers.
In that football game regular full back Shane Fox was also absent and this duo will be needed on Saturday against the attacking talent of Newcastle West.
With Mike Quilligan and Jerry O’Sullivan now back at the helm in Newcastle West harmony appears to have returned to their camp after the turmoil of the Teddy McCarthy leadership.
Their middle diamond of Stephen Nix, Mike McMahon, Iain Corbett and Stephen Kelly is vitally important to provide a constant supply of ball to their attack.
With Jamie Lee, Cian Sheehan, the Kelly brothers, the Quilligan brothers and others as options, there is no denying the potential of this unit. But they will need to work hard against a packed defence and not loose concentration.
The record books won’t fill Newcastle West with confidence. Indeed the last three meetings have seen them fail to beat Ballylanders.
But ultimately it is Newcastle West that have contested two of the last three county finals.
If last season was taken out of their record, it is hard to look beyond their form lines.
Ballylanders are back at the stage where they exited last year - losing to St Partick’s in the semi.
In 2010 Ballylanders did reach the semi-final, but lost to Monaleen. Their last final appearance was 2008 but Saturday’s team will be must changed from that occasion.
Therefore Newcastle West shade the experience stakes. Showing patience will be vital for the magpies if they are to prevail to play Dromcollogher-Broadford in the semi-final.
There was no meeting of these teams in last year’s championship. They met in the group stages in 2012 when Ballylanders were 2-14 to 0-9. But that was a year when Newcastle West were to contest the county final.
WHAT ARE THE ODDS
Ballylanders are the 10/1 slight favourites with Newcastle West available at 11/10. Bally are listed at 11/2 to win the championship outright, while Newcastle West are at 7/1.
STORY SO FAR
Ballylanders went until the final round without a loss - St Patricks beat them in round five. The arrival Ephie Fitzgerald brought early season momentum for the south Limerick side. Newcastle West have been less consistent but ultimately only lost narrowly in round one to Fr Caseys
Newcastle West have an attack that have serious potential. But they need a platform from which to perform. The battle of county colleagues Iain Corbett and Tom Lee in midfield could be telling.
The highest scoring attack (Newcastle West) against one of the best defences. I think the west Limerick men may find the goals to advance.