Frank Nelligan previews the Desmond League teams in action this Sunday as top billing goes to the FAI Junior Cup, with eight local teams involved in seven second round ties.
Rathkeale (Premier) v
Newcastle West Rovers (Premier)
The one all-local affair brings together two Premier Division sides, Rathkeale and Newcastle West Rovers. Rathkeale have lost their last three games and will be looking to get back on the winning trail. Newcastle West Rovers have lost all three of their games against top flight opposition this season and their only bright spot was a 3-0 victory away to Old Mill in the first round of the Munster Junior Cup.
Newcastle West (Premier) v
Castleisland (Kerry PremierA)
Castleisland did very well in Kerry last season. They won the two main Cups in Kerry and were beaten by St. Brendan’s Park in a second replay in the Premier Division League play-off. They beat St. Brendan’s Park in the League a couple of weeks ago but have dropped points in three other matches. They are a strong physical side who don’t give goals away easily.
Newcastle West are top of the Premier Division table after their 3-2 victory at home to Rathkeale last Sunday. They have a tendency to fade out of games for periods and that would cost them against a side of Castleisland’s quality. However, in the expectation that managers Paul Slater and Eddie Brouder will demand and get 90 minutes of effort from their charges, I give the vote to the home side to rise to the occasion and record a hard-earned victory.
Forecast: Newcastle West.
Pallaskenry (Division 2) v
St. Brendan’s Park (Kerry Premier)
With a 100 percent record from five games, Pallaskenry look like they could win Division 2 with a bit to spare. In their one venture outside Division 2 so far this season, they lost 2-0 away to Killeaney in the first round of the Munster Junior Cup.
The visit of Kerry Premier A Champions, St. Brendan’s Park, represents another step up in class. St. Brendan’s Park have already beaten two Limerick Desmond League sides this season, winning 3-0 at home to Broadford United in the first round of the Munster FA League Champions Trophy and 2-1 after extra-time away to Carrig Celtic in the first round of the FAI Junior Cup. Last Saturday, Park won 3-0 away to the Cork Business and Shipping League Champions in the second round of the Munster Champions Trophy.
Pallaskenry will endeavour to make the most of home advantage but it would be a seismic shock if Park didn’t travel back to Tralee with a third round ticket away to Ballingarry or Burren United.
Forecast: St. Brendan’s Park.
Ballingarry (Premier) v Burren United (Clare Premier)
This is Burren United’s second season in the Clare Premier Division but they will need to buck up if they are to stay there as they are currently in bottom place, without a point. Like many club sides, the Lisdoonvarna-based outfit are weakened by the loss of some players to Gaelic football commitments.
Ballingarry were top of the Premier Division until last Sunday and their superior league form should be reflected in Sunday’s result.
Broadford United (Premier) v
Ruan United (Clare Division 2)
Broadford United expect to have all their fit players available for this encounter and are even hopeful that long-term injury casualties, Micheal Clancy and Mike Boyce, will be able to play some part.
That show of strength and intent doesn’t offer much hope for Clare Division 2 side, Ruan United, whose eponymous village is to the north-west of Ennis.
Forecast: Broadford United.
Connolly Celtic (Clare Premier) v Killeaney (Premier)
Killeaney are struggling in the League and they may well find this trip to Kilmayley a struggle also as they will be missing players who will be lining out with Glin in the Junior A County Football quarter-final on Sunday. Being understrength will probably be too much of a handicap against a progressive Connolly Celtic side who are in their first season in the Clare Premier Division.
Forecast: Connolly Celtic.
Newmarket Celtic (Clare Premier Division)
v Abbeyfeale United (Premier)
Winners of the Premier Division title for the last two seasons, Newmarket Celtic are the undoubted kingpins in Clare soccer at the moment. They are going well in their bid for three-in-a-row as they are currently joint leaders. They gave further evidence of the strength last Sunday when they took the mighty Pike Rovers to extra-time before going down 2-1 in the second round of the Munster FA League Champions Trophy.
Abbeyfeale United played some good football last Friday night in winning 3-0 at home to Killeaney. The return of midfielder Joe Kelliher from Gaelic football commitments is a major boost. . Newmarket Celtic will be weakened by the loss of goalkeeper Jason Casey, who is out injured, but their credentials still look impressive enough to warrant the vote.
Forecast: Newmarket Celtic.
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