Ballynanty's Barry Hartnett claims possession from Pike Rovers' Ian Fletcher when the sides met on Sunday morning. This weekend Pike will look to win provincial silverware
Two big games dominate the weekends Soccer action with Limerick sides vying for National and Provincial silverware. On Saturday evening Pike Rvs and St Michaels meet in the final of the Munster Junior Cup while a day later the Limerick District League (under the guise of Janesboro) meet their Kilkenny counterparts in the final of the Oscar Traynor Trophy.
Limerick DL travel to Kilkenny on Sunday to take on the local District League side in the final of the Oscar Traynor Tournament looking to bridge a 23 year gap.
Following their semi final win over the Leinster Senior League, Limerick have been preparing for their 12th appearance in the final of the coveted trophy.
They boast six wins and six losses in these finals but rather disappointingly Limerick have suffered four successive defeats since their last success in 1995/96.
This season has seen a different take on the make up of the Limerick squad. Unable to procure a manager, the League looked like they might have to withdraw the team when Janesboro, as Premier League Champions, accepted the offer to represent the League.
It has worked out well with the familiarity of the ‘Boro’ players proving a real plus. Limerick started well with a 2-0 victory over the Clare League but defeat to Galway (2-0) in the second game meant a long trip for Limerick to Donegal where a penalty shoot out saw Limerick through into the last four.
Limerick were away again in the semi final when they travelled to take on the Leinster Senior League and came back with a 3-2 win to set up the Final date.
The Janesboro players go into the tie leading the way in the Premier League with just one game remaining. A 3-1 win over Prospect last Sunday will have buoyed the players and hopefully they can carry that positivity into Sundays tie versus Kilkenny.
Seven points clear at the top of the table. They defeated Kilmallock 4-2 on Sunday as a good answer to their Tuohy Cup final defeat a week earlier.
Shane O'Hanlon and Aidan Ryan as always will have their team well prepared for the tie and will have done their homework on the opposition. The National Trophy is long overdue a stay in Limerick having last visited in 1996.
Tony Clarke was part of that winning side and on Sunday his two sons, Thomas and Shane will be hoping to repeat the feat. Janesboro's Aidan Ryan was also part of successful side so we'll take that as a good omen.
Limerick DL record in Oscar Traynor Finals
Winners; 1956, 1968, 1977, 1978, 1993, 1996
Runner-Up; 1969, 1972, 2003, 2008, 2010, 2015
Path to the Final
Group; Limerick DL 2 Clare DL 0 (Adrian Power, Tom Clarke)
Group; Galway DL 2 Limerick DL 0
Q-Final; Donegal DL 1 Limerick DL 1 won on pens (Shane Clarke)
S-Final; Leinster Sen League 2 Limerick DL 3 (A Power, K Mawdsley, R O'Doherty)
A day earlier Limerick hosts the Munster Junior Cup final in Jackman Park at 6.30pm when Pike Rvs take on St Michaels in a repeat of the 2017 final.
On that occasion Pike travelled to Tipperary and goals from Pat Mullins and Cian Collins gave Pike a 2-1 win.
Pike Rvs are going for three in a row of provincial titles after defeating Janesboro in a penalty shoot out in last years decider.
Pike have been in tremendous form all season really. After 41 games the Hoops have only lost on a penalty shoot out to Sheriff and four draws in the League sees them trail Janesboro by a point with one game remaining.
They have a whopping 180 goals with top scorer Jonathan Grant claiming 50 of them.
No doubt the Hoops know the goals will be less forthcoming against one of the best teams in the country. Already sitting pretty in the FAI Junior Cup final, Saints also won their own League and Cup so they could complete a grand slam.
Pike can be confident going into the tie that they are a match for any team and will not be intimidated by the Saints.
On a number of occasions this season Pike started slowly and had to drag themselves back into a tie, like their recent 3-3 draw versus Janesboro when they had to fight back from three behind to share the spoils.
They cannot afford a similar start against the Tipperary giants so they need to be tuned in from the off.
Pike have won the trophy seven times in their history while Saints claim bragging rights with eight wins to their credit.
Of the last eight years, Sundays opponents won six times which gives an idea of the calibre of the sides.
With a sparse Junior programme scheduled we are sure to have a bumper crowd to cheer on the Limerick side and hopefully they can kick off the weekend with a win.
Path to the Final
Game 1: A v Cappamore w 10-1 (Grant 2, McGann 2, Rainsford (3), Patterson, Kavanagh, Hannafin)
Game 2: H v Southend W 11-0 (McGann 4, Rainsford 2, Grant 3, Hanrahan, O'Malley)
Game 3: H v Caherdavin W 9-0 (Grant 5, Walsh, McGann, O'Malley, Hanrahan)
Game 4: H v City Wanderers W 3-2 (O'Malley, Fletcher, W O'Donovan)
Game 5: H v Hibernians W 3-1 (E Hanrahan, McGann, Grant)
Game 6: H v Newmarket Celtic w 1-1 (Pens) (J Grant)