Frank Nelligan previews all of this week’s action in the Desmond Cup.
The Desmond Cup kicks off on Sunday, with sixteen of the 21 first-round ties taking place.
Abbeyfeale United v Newcastle West Rovers B
Abbeyfeale United are bidding to become the first team to win the Desmond Cup three seasons in a row since Newcastle West did it ten years ago.
They also won the League and League Cup last season and are going well in their defence of the League title, leading by three points. They have lost a couple of key players since last season, with Mike Sheehan and Dave Roche working in Spain and England, respectively, while Chris Smith is not expected back from a long-term injury until next month. However, as their lofty league position indicates, they still have a very strong squad, with Cormac Roche leading the way in terms of performance and leadership.
Newcastle West Rovers B are mid-table in Division 2. One of their players, the evergreen Seanie Gleeson, enjoyed a successful spell with Abbeyfeale United a few seasons back and he will be welcomed back to Riverside Park by the Abbeyfeale fans, who hold him in high regard.
Prediction: Abbeyfeale itd
Broadford United v Killeaney
Beaten finalists in 2012, Broadford United have won all three league games played since the turn of the year and have consequently climbed to second place in the Premier Division, three points behind Abbeyfeale United but with a game in hand.
If they maintain that form, they will be a major force in both league and Cup.
After a 6-0 drubbing by Newcastle West, Killeaney have responded well with draws against Abbeyfeale United and Newcastle West Rovers. In young Colin Enright, they have a player whose pace will cause problems for any defence but, with home advantage and confidence high, Broadford should be good enough to prevail, especially as they have already beaten Killeaney 3-1 at home in the league.
Prediction: Broadford Utd
Shannonside FC v Glin Rovers
Both of these clubs have won the Desmond Cup in the last decade, Shannonside FC four years ago and Glin Rovers in 2009.
Both are in the bottom half of the Premier Division table, uncomfortably close to the relegation zone. Their league meeting in Shanagolden ended in a scoreless draw. If Glin can get back to the form that carried them to the fourth round of the Munster Junior Cup, that would probably be enough to advance.
Prediction: Glin Rovers
Athea United (Division 1) v Rathkeale (Premier)
2016 has been very good for Athea United so far, beating Rathkeale B 4-0 in the second round of the Riedy Cup and taking maximum points from three league matches. Last Sunday’s whopping 10-1 victory at home to Pallaskenry put them six points clear at the top of the table.
Such impressive form gives grounds for believing that they are capable of beating a Premier side but the problem is that Rathkeale have also shone since the turn of the year, with three wins from three in the league. They have been strengthened by the return of Keith Harnett and deserve a vote of confidence here.
Newcastle West v Glantine
Newcastle West struggled in the league for much of last season but they have had no such worries in this campaign and are comfortably in the top half of the table.
They have averaged two goals per league game, helped by having such proven goal-getters as Tony Quaid and Liam O’Shaughnessy in the side. They were taken over by Noel Murphy and Darren McCoy shortly before Christmas.
Glantine are just one point outside the top two places in Division 1 and it would be long overdue if they win promotion. That’s surely their number one target this season and so may lack the intensity of desire required to cause an upset.
Prediction: Newcastle West
Ballingarry AFC v Ballingarry B
Ballingarry B are one of only two teams with an unbeaten league record this season, the other being Division 2 leaders, AK United.
They will enjoy the novelty of this game but it is surely inconceivable that they will get the better of their A team who will want to go into their Munster Junior Cup fifth round tie in a positive frame of mind.
Prediction: Ballingarry AFC
Shountrade v Newcastle West Rovers
These two sides share the distinction of being beaten by Abbeyfeale United in the last two semi-finals.
Newcastle West Rovers were unlucky, beaten in extra-time, and would relish another lengthy Cup run this season, especially as they have fallen back in the league, with only one win in their last four games. It will be a major surprise if they don’t get past Shountrade, who are mid-table in Division 2
Kildimo United B v Carrig Celtic
Like Athea United, Carrig Celtic are hoping to make an immediate return to the top flight and are well-placed to do so, just a point behind second-placed Breska Rovers with two games in hand. Their record of having only lost one game in the league contrasts with Kildimo United B, who have only won one.
Prediction: Carrig Celtic
Breska Rovers v Newcastle West B
Newcastle West B are on the fringes of the tightly-paced Division 3 promotion race, while Breska Rovers currently occupy the second promotion spot in Division 1.
Prediction: Breska Rovers
Abbeyfeale UTd B v Rockhill
This game takes place on Friday night under lights in Riverside Park. Thomas Cahill, David Moriarty, Patrick Smith and Rob Cummins recently took over the managerial reins of Abbeyfeale United B and they will be hoping to carry on the good work from their away victory against Breska.
All eleven of Rockhill Rovers’ league games have ended in defeat, including losing 3-1 at home to Abbeyfeale United B at the end of October.
Prediction: Abbeyfeale Utd B
Askeaton AFC (Division 1) v Pallaskenry B (Division 3)
Having impressed in winning Division 2 last season, Askeaton haven’t taken well to life in Division 1, with just three points to show from their ten games to date. They have beaten Pallaskenry A at home in the league and they will be hopeful of a home Cup win against Pallaskenry B, who are in the bottom half of Division 3.
Forecast: Askeaton AFC
AK United v Glantine B
Division 2 leaders, AK United, are the only team in the entire league with a 100 percent record and, bar a major drop in standards in the second half of their league campaign, they will be playing in Division 1 next season.
Glantine B will remain in Division 3 and that signals a significant gap between the sides.
Prediction: AK United
Adare Uitd v Glin Rovers B
Glin Rovers B reached the Desmond Cup semi-finals last season and went on to collect silverware when they won the Division 3 League Cup.
They are one of a handful of teams in contention for promotion from Division 3 this season. The memory of last season’s super run to the last four should be fresh enough to inspire a performance that could earn the scalp of Adare United, who are just three points above the drop zone in Division 2.
Prediction: Glin Rovers B
Feenagh v Bally Rovers
Feenagh and Bally Rovers are in the top half of Divisions 1 and 2, respectively. Playing at a higher level and home advantage sways me towards Feenagh.
Ballysteen v Feenagh B
Ballysteen are third in Division 2 but are too far behind the top two to be seriously considered as promotion contenders.
With no points from eight games, Feenagh B are last of the 42 teams in the league.
Carrig B v Askeaton B
Carrig Celtic B won 2-0 at home to Askeaton B in their Division 3 encounter and I will go for a similar result, whatever about the scoreline.
Prediction: Carrig Celtic B