THE Limerick SFC reaches the quarter final stage this weekend.
Champions Ballylanders played Friday evening against Fr Caseys, while Monaleen play Ballysteen on Saturday.
LIMERICK SFC QUARTER-FINAL
Ballylanders v Fr Caseys
Date: Friday, September 25
Venue: Gaelic Grounds
CHAMPIONS Ballylanders play in their fourth Limerick SFC quarter final of the last five years.
The four time champions are bidding to retain their title for the first time.
Last season their run through the knockout stages included wins over Newcastle West, Dromcollogher-Broadford and St Patricks.
First up in the business end this season is Fr Caseys.
Friday’s floodlight game is a repeat of the 2006 quarter final when the Abbeyfeale men fought back from an early 10-point deficit to secure victory and progress to lift the last of their eight Limerick SFC titles.
In general meetings between these two have not been frequent - in 2013 Bally were 1-10 to 1-5 winners.
This time round the south Limerick men are 4/6 favourites to advance to a semi final with Newcastle West.
Ephie Fitzgerald’s men haven’t fired on full cylinders yet this season. Just last week they struggled for periods in defeat to Drom-Broadford.
John Colbert’s Fr Caseys have also been inconsistent but the return of Padraig Browne is a boost. The champions will be their bigger test of the year though.
LIMERICK SFC QUARTER-FINAL
Ballysteen v Monaleen
Date: Saturday, September 26
Neither of these sides were involved in the knockout stages last season.
While Ballysteen have impressed throughout this season, Monaleen have had to win their last three games to advance.
In league and championship Ballysteen have nine wins from 11 outings. Impressively they conceded just one goal in five championship outings. But at the other end their scoring ratio can be their achilles heel.
This was the case last weekend when losing to Newcastle West in their top of the table clash.
But Saturday’s opposition have come through what was perceived to be the more difficult group. When these sides met last in championship, it finished 2-11 each in 2012.
The bookies expect it to be just as tight and give a slight nod to Monaleen as 10/11 favourites to advance to meet Dromcollogher-Broadford in the semi final.
Five time champions Monaleen were county finalists just two years ago and winners in 2011.
For their part Ballysteen lost out in the 2013 quarter final and the 2012 semi final.
Fresh faces like Danny Neville, Pakie Moran, Willie O’Meara have added a new dimension but the likes of Pa Ranahan, Shane Gallagher and Paudie Vaughan are key to set the tone.
Simply they will need to find their shooting boots to advance.
Monaleen have firepower in Ger Collins and Graham O’Connell.
Last day out they positioned Luke Kavanagh at full forward and moved everything direct to the edge of the square. Muiris Gavin’s side have responded well in recent weeks and if their work-rate continues they can prevail.