THE Limerick senior football championship gets underway this weekend.
Twelve clubs set out in search of the Fr Casey Cup in next October’s Limerick SFC final. Once again Irish Wire Products are sponsoring the competition, which has six round one games this week – all with 7pm starts.
Newcastle West set out as champions and are joint-favourites with Dromcollogher-Broadford – both priced at 10/3.
Donegal’s 2012 All Ireland SFC winner Antoin McFadden remains as coach to Newcastle West, who now have last year’s selector Aidan McMahon elevated to manager in place of Mike Quilligan. McFadden is combining his Newcastle West club role with his position as Limerick senior football strength and conditioning coach.
The champions begin their title defence against Monaleen on Friday in Bruff. Muiris Gavin remains as Monaleen manager. Limerick minor football coach Ricky Ronayne is the coach to the Castletroy side, who are seen as a 6/1 shot to reclaim the title they last won in 2011.
Also on Friday night, St Patricks play St Kierans in Askeaton. The Rhebogue side were 2015 county finalists but didn’t make the knockout stages last season.
There are three games on Saturday evening.
Dromcollogher-Broadford play 2014 champions Ballylanders in Kilmallock. Drom-Broadford have former manager Moss McCarthy back as a coach with Micheal Reidy and Neil Conway as joint-managers. The 2013 winners are bolstered by the addition of four players from Feenagh-Kilmeedy and two from Killeedy, who will be without injured full forward Killian Phair for the season.
Ballylanders have a new management with Barry Donnelly of Limerick’s Underage Football Academy now the manager in place of Ephie Fitzgerald, who departed to take over the Cork ladies football side. The south Limerick side have a doubt over inter-county midfielder Tom Lee.
In Newcastle West, Fr Caseys will play Ballysteen. John Colbert remains as manager of the Abbeyfeale men, while Ballysteen now have Joey O’Hanlon as manager/coach.
The third game on Saturday is between Pallasgreen and Rathkeale in Clarina. Rathkeale only secured their 2016 senior status with a play-off win over Adare at the end of last season. But they appear to have put a run of injuries behind them. This duo are seen as the outsiders of the competition with Rathkeale priced at 40/1 and Pallasgreen 50/1 for ultimate honours.
There is just one game on Sunday – Na Piarsaigh playing Oola in Caherconlish. East Limerick side Oola are making their senior return after winning the intermediate championship last season. Na Piarsiagh are just in their second season back in the top flight.
Na Piarsaigh continue with Pat McHugh as manager but now have former Clare senior football goalkeeper James Hanrahan as coach. Hanrahan was manager of the Eire Og side that contested the 2014 Clare SFC final, when losing to Cratloe.
The Caherdavin men will hope to include a number of the All Ireland club hurling winning panel, but will be without Evan Egan, who is out for the season with a cruciate ligament injury.
Round two of the five group games in the championship will take place the following weekend – April 28 to May 1.