Ballingarry's Kevin Ford holds possession up during a recent clash with Shannon Town in the Cup. Ford and his charges are now top of the Desmond Premier league going into 2018
There are three big Cup ties this weekend. Carrig Celtic take on Ballymun United in the fifth round of the FAI Junior Cup, while Broadford United and Ballingarry meet College Corinthians and Clonmel Town, respectively, in the fourth round of the Munster Youths Cup.
Ballymun United v Carrig Celtic
Carrig Celtic will be the last Limerick Desmond League team standing in the 5th round of the FAI Junior Cup when they travel to Dublin on Saturday to take on Ballymun United, kick-off at 2 pm.
Carrig have got to this stage on merit, having already recorded victories over Castleisland, Bridge Celtic and CG Killarney. Under the management of Paul O’Connor and John Moynihan, they are strong up the middle, with goalkeeper Jack O’Donoghue, centre-half Anthony Molyneaux, central midfielders Donie Nolan and Denny Greaney and strikers Ray Cahill and skipper Seanie King. Width and pace is provided by Sean Sweeney and Killian Enright. Their preparation for this tie hasn’t been ideal, as they have only played once since their 1-0 victory at home to Castleisland in the fourth round on the 5th of November, a 3-2 defeat at home to Athea United in early December.
Ballymun United are regular visitors to this stage of the competition and have won it twice, in 2001 and 2009. They used to play in Dublin AUL but switched to the Leinster Senior League in 2013. They have been promoted every season since and now play in the top Saturday division, which is called Major Saturday. They are currently fifth in the table, behind other luminaries Crumlin United, Bluebell United, Malahide United and Cherry Orchard.
Carrig will go into this game with their competitive juices fired up to the max but even that probably won’t be enough to overcome the gulf in class and pedigree that is expected to be between the sides. The winners will be at home to North End United in the last 32.
Forecast: Ballymun United
Munster Youths Cup
College Corinthians v Broadford United
Broadford United won’t lack for confidence when they travel to College Corinthians on Saturday bidding for a place in the quarter-finals of the Munster Youths Cup. They are four points clear in Youths Division, which is not surprising considering that they have scored 32 goals and conceded none in their last five league games. During that run, they beat Askeaton 2-1 away in the third round of this competition.
Sean Kelly has been a big factor in the huge goals tally, as has fellow striker, Martin Daly, while midfielders Kieran O’Flynn and TJ Kelly have also chipped in. The hard-working midfield pair have also contributed to the impressive collection of clean sheets, offering protection to a back four led superbly by centre-half and captain, James Molyneaux. Another player who can take credit for five clean sheets in the last six games is goalkeeper Brian Stack, a brother of Broadford United A-team goalkeeper, Patrick Stack, who is one of two assistants to manager Joe McAuliffe, the other being Denis Daly.
Cork Youths football is strong, as Limerick Desmond have found out with heavy Inter-league defeats in recent years. College Corinthians are in the top flight but they are not setting the Division alight, with one win and four defeats from their five games.
If Broadford play to their absolute best, they might just be good enough to overcome this challenge, with Molyneaux and Kelly likely to be key players.
Forecast: Broadford United.
Ballingarry v Clonmel Town
Clonmel Town won Youths Division 1 in the South Tipperary League two seasons ago and finished runners-up last season but won’t threaten this season as they have lost five and drawn one of their six games to date. That is not the kind of form that suggests they will emulate their outstanding achievement of winning the Munster Youths Cup in 2015 and 2016.
Ballingarry have a 100 percent record from their four games in Youths Division 2. They showed in no uncertain terms that they can step up a level when they won 8-0 in the third round of this competition away to Youths Division 1 side, AK United, who created lots of positive headlines at u-17 level last season.
Managed by John Clancy, Dean Clancy and Gary Shanahan, several of the Ballingarry players have been further battle-hardened by featuring regularly at junior level this season. Keith O’Kelly scored for the Bs last Sunday, while Josh O’Connor, Adam Shanagher, Sean O’Connor, Conor Hayes and Pa Gallagher have all been performing with distinction for the A-team. Such experience is invaluable and that, in part, leads me to believe that Ballingarry will be looking forward to the quarter-finals draw at around 3.45 on Sunday afternoon.