Stephen McNamara, Kennedy Park, in action against Dave Coffey, Coonagh United during the side's FAI Junior Cup clash at LIT last weekend Pic: Gareth Williams
Limerick’s hopes of bringing the FAI Junior Cup to town, begin in earnest this weekend with the sides who reached the Open draw stage in action.
Janesboro have been given the unenviable tag of favourites to reach the latter stages of the competition. They face a very difficult task when they host Wexford side North End Utd in Pearse Stadium.
North End are no strangers to local sides and Janesboro joint manager Aidan Ryan ran the rule over his opponents last weekend. They defeated Wexford Premier League leaders Shamrock Rvs 2-1 to keep their title charge on course. The previous week, they squandered a two goal lead going down 4-2 to Sheriff in the Leinster Junior Cup.
Janesboro’s last outing was a hard earned win over Aisling but overall they have been easing through their fixture list. Keith Mawdsley's goal haul has taken the pressure off Shane Clarke with the pair racking up an impressive tally of 36 goals already.
North End are a big physical side and will cause plenty of problems to the ‘Boro defence. Thomas Clarke’s experience and leadership will be vital to the home side.
There is a determination about this ‘Boro side and the FAI is high on their list of priorities. Home advantage will prove crucial and may be enough to swing it Boro’s way.
Regional Utd face an equally difficult task hosting Athlone side St. Peters FC. Saints and Pike played out an exciting semi final in the competition a couple of years ago and the visitors showed on that occasion that they are a class side.
Regional have been having a great season in the Premier League suffering just their first defeat in their last outing versus Pike Rovers.
Kieran O’Connell continues to show the way in the side and shows an impressive goal haul from midfield. An out and out striker has been Regional’s Achilles heel but they still seem to be able to eke out results. Evan Patterson’s form has propelled him into the Oscar Traynor panel while Rob Shier has also been in superb form for the Dooradoyle side. St Peters would be a huge scalp for Regional and would give Ray Lynch’s side confidence as the competition progresses.
We are guaranteed a side in round six as two Limerick sides cross swords when Hill Celtic welcome Pike Rovers. Celtic have been motoring along well in Division 1B but they know Sunday’s opposition will be a different proposal.
Pike were without Gary Neville last weekend so they will be hoping he is back to full fitness. They have stalwarts like Pat Mullins, Wayne Colbert and Eoin Hanrahan, Internationals all and it’s hard to see them slipping at this stage but they will earn their win.
Coonagh Utd, who reached round five with a 4-1 win over Kennedy Park on Sunday. Their reward is a trip to the Capital to meet Dingle Utd. The Dublin side lie mid table in the AUL Premier League so Coonagh Utd know what they are facing.
Despite plying their trade in Division 1B, Coonagh are well capable and have a attack that is the envy of most Premier sides.
Another side well capable of causing an upset are Shelbourne and Niall Hogan's men will need that if they are to get something from top Galway side Mervue Utd.
With nothing to lose the Div 1B side will give it a go, and hope they can upset the odds.
The focus on the weekend’s PJ Matthews Premier League will be on the bottom half of the table.
Holycross will hardly relish the visit of a Ballynanty Rvs side in need of a morale boosting performance.
Carew Park host Moyross full of confidence. After coming back to beat Balla in the Tuohy Cup, they followed up with an 8-1 walloping of Coonagh.
Moyross will be hoping their visitors have an off day.
Fairview Rgs take on Charleville and with both teams idle for over a month, they will be mad for action. Charleville need three points to escape the drop zone but Fairview have designs of their own.
In Div 1A leaders Prospect Priory welcome Murroe to Cals Park while second placed Cappamore will be expected to win at home to Granville.
Two local sides are in FAI Youth Cup action on Sunday. Kilfrush welcome Cork side Douglas Hall and Newport host Maree from Oranmore. On Saturday Fairview make the long trip to Mayo to take on Conn Rgs.
Tonight, (Wednesday) Tuohy Cup holders Aisling Annacotty put their crown on the line when they meet Holycross for a place in the semi-finals of the competition. Aisling showed in their most recent game that they are capable of mixing it with the best, pushing Janesboro to a hard earned win. They will be keen not to give up the Premier Cup too easily. In their way of reaching the semi final are Holycross. The County side are still without a win in the Premier League and confidence is at a low ebb. Kick off is 7pm in Jackman Park and a meeting with Carew Park in the last four is the reward.