SEVEN weeks after the previous round, the Irish Wire Products Limerick SHC swings back into action with six games this August Bank Holiday weekend.
Champions Monaleen bring the only 100% record into the round four action, while Ballysteen, Rathkeale and Na Piarsaigh are all seeking their first wins.
Monaleen are the bookies 9/4 favourites to retain the Fr Casey Cup. 2015 winners Newcastle West are priced at 3/1, while Dromcollogher-Broadford are priced at 10/3.
The final round of group games takes place on the weekend of August 18-20 with the quarter finals on September 1-3 and semi finals on September 23-24.
MONALEEN V ADARE
Friday August 4 in Clarina at 7.00
A fourth successive win will confirm a spot in the knockout stages for the champions and put one foot in the semi finals.
The sides haven’t met in the championship since 2013 when Monaleen were big winners in what is a repeat of the 2010 and 2002 County Final pairing.
Monaleen were without long term injured Shane Cusack and Barry Fitzpatrick earlier in the season but did give a debut to former Limerick football coach Brian Carson – formerly of Dublin SFC club St Patricks of Palmerstown.
Adare, who added former Limerick, Laois, Tipperary coach Jerome Stack to their backroom team ahead of the previous round, will be without Hugh Bourke, but Davy Lyons is back.
This is a clash of two of the three dual senior clubs in Limerick with contrasting hurling results for both last weekend.
BALLYLANDERS V ST PATRICKS
Friday August 4 in Bruff at 7.00
These sides have met four times in the last three seasons with neither side winning back-to-back fixtures.
The city men were 0-10 to 0-7 winners last year.
St Patricks should have Gearoid Hegarty back in their starting line-up, while Eoin Hanrahan and John Mullane are also understood to be available for selection. An interesting member of a recent All-County League line-up was Conor Kavanagh – a former Irish underage soccer international, he was joined Blackburn Rovers was a teenager.
Ballylanders have had Kilmallock hurler Kevin O’Donnell in their ranks this season.
Prediction: St Patricks
NEWCASTLE WEST V OOLA
Friday August 4 in Kilmallock at 7.00
2015 champions Newcastle West will confirm their place in the knockout stages with another win in what is a rare championship meeting of these sides.
Recent 7-a-side winners of the Shane Hourigan Tournament in Rathkeale, Newcastle West blazed a trail in the opening rounds of this championship but then stumbled against Ballysteen.
Both will be without key men who are in the US – Cian Sheehan (Newcastle West) and Josh Ryan (Oola).
Prediction: Newcastle West
RATHKEALE V NA PIARSAIGH
Saturday August 5 in Adare at 4.00
A unusual venue for county championship and a most unusual pairing.
Both sides are looking for a first win of the campaign to move them away from relegation trouble.
Rathkeale could be without Paul White and Eoin O’Donnell, while Na Piarsaigh are down a number of players from their starting team that reached last year’s semi final, including injured influential midfielder William O’Donoghue.
This is a game that pits Dromcollogher-Broadford coaches in opposition – Moss McCarthy (Rathkeale) and Neil Conway (Na Piarsaigh).
DROMCOLLOGHER-BROADFORD V FR CASEYS
Saturday August 5 in Newcastle West at 5.00
They sides haven’t met in county championship in a few years but are no strangers. Beaten in the last two final’s, victory for Drom-Broadford will confirm their place in a 18th successive knockout round.
Seanie Buckley is yet to start a SFC game this campaign due to a long term injury, while captain Jason Stokes was also on the treatment table lately.
The Abbeyfeale men were relegated in the All County League with six defeats from seven outings, including a 1-16 to 2-7 loss to these opponents in May. Their championship form has also been inconsistent.
Prediction: Fr Caseys
BALLYSTEEN V ST KIERANS
Sunday August 6 in The Bog Garden at 7.00
Ballysteen were winners when these sides met in the West SFC final in early June.
Ballysteen were also crowned All County League Division Two champions and promoted with six wins from seven outings.
But for all that form, they have no win in the county SFC.
St Kierans have won their last two championship games and only lost in round one by one point.
These neighbours didn’t meet in the county SFC last season – Ballysteen won in 2015 and St Kierans won in 2014.