Calculators will be working over time at the weekend when the knockout places in the Limerick SFC are being decided. Jerome O’Connell tries to figure it all out
SATURDAY evening provides a fitting finale to the group stages of what has been a thrilling Limerick’s Live 95FM sponsored county senior football championship to date.
The one negative of the campaign so far is that a competition that started on April 28 has seen each of the 12-teams play just four games.
But 24 games, 42 goals and 452 points later the championship is down to the business end. Mobile phones, calculators and perhaps rule books could be needed before the final pairings are known.
No side has a 100 per cent record but Fr Caseys and Newcastle West are unbeaten at the top of the groups and have one foot in the semis.
The two teams that dominated the last decade are hanging on by their fingernails. Between them Dromcollogher-Broadford and Monaleen have won eight of the last 10 county titles and both are now in danger of not advancing.
Champions Monaleen are fighting for their survival in the championship. The city side know that they could defeat Fr Caseys and still find themselves knocked out. They face an Abbeyfeale side that are guaranteed a semi-final spot as even if they lose and St Pats win, the men in blue would advance on the head-to-head rule.
How motivated will Fr Caseys be?
Although they have little to play for, there is fierce competition for places within the camp as Tom Fitzgerald moulds a settled line-up.
Monaleen should have learned much from the St Patricks loss last time out and while there is no doubting their talent, the applications sometimes lets them down. They crept into the knockout stages last season and if they do likewise again they would be serious contenders.
Monaleen will be hoping that Adare’s slump continues. Last season’s beaten finalists were shocked by Galbally last time out but still they know that a win over Galbally would be sufficient for them to advance.
On a night of many permutations, Adare could lose and still progress.
Both Adare and St Pats face sides fighting for their survival and this is always dangerous. St Pats know that a draw would be enough for them to advance to the knockout stages for the first time in over 30 years.
Dromcollogher-Broadford have progressed beyond the group stages in every championship since they won promotion to the senior ranks with an intermediate success in 1999.
Moss McCarthy was at the helm in those glory days for the club and is back in charge this season and they have their destiny in their own hands, knowing that win over St Kierans will guarantee them a quarter-final place that didn’t look likely when they lost the opening two rounds.
But they have returned strongly with wins over St Senans and Ballysteen and have reacted well when their backs were to the wall.
But St Kierans know that they have a huge opportunity to return to the heydays of 2005 when they contested the county final against Monaleen.
The injection of young talent has worked wonders along with the Windles, McCarthys and Jim O’Donovan. The men from the Ardagh, Coolcappa, Kilcolman and Carrikerry areas went oh so close to toppling Drom-Broadford last season and will take great confidence from that tie. A draw will be enough for St Kierans to advance but for Drom-Broadford only a win will book a place in the knockout stages.
Elsewhere in the group, Newcastle West and Ballylanders are all but guaranteed their spots in the next stage of the championship.
A draw will be enough for Newcastle West when they face St Senans and they will be mindful that a defeat and wins elsewhere for Ballylanders and St Kierans could drag them into a scoring difference scenario.
On the flip side, St Senans are looking over the shoulders at the relegation play-offs and will be keeping tabs on the progress of Ballysteen against Ballylanders.
Ballylanders will want to win this one and while they appear assured of progression they just don’t seem to be able to win games. After an opening round win over Drom-Broadford, they have amassed three draws.
A single point win for Drom-Broadford over St Kierans and a double-digit loss for Ballylanders would eliminate the men from the Ballyhouras but that’s unlikely.
Quarter-finals - St Patricks v Dromcollogher-Broadford; Ballylanders v Adare
Semi-finalists - Fr Caseys and Newcastle West
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