Limerick Junior Soccer Preview

THIS week presents the last week of fixtures in the Limerick District League before the Christmas break with two games down for decision in the Limerick District League Premier Division while there is a huge clash in the Munster Junior Cup.

The Munster Junior Cup game pits two Limerick rivals against one another in what promises to be a pulsating encounter. Fairview Rangers host Ballynanty Rovers on Saturday night at the Fairgreen in a game that is guaranteed to bring a big local junior crowd (7pm).

Fairview enter the game off the back of a 0-0 draw with fierce rivals Pike Rovers in the league last weekend. Although the first half was a drab affair, the second half was entertaining with Fairview spurning many chances to win the game.

Ballynanty Rovers will be looking to avenge an earlier defeat in the league at the same venue and the Munster Junior Cup presents Balla’s last realistic chance of winning one of the major three trophies.

Adrian Power has been a key player for Ballynanty since signing last season

Although David Dunphy’s side are still in the Tuohy and Lawson Cups, they are seven points behind Pike Rovers in the league and were recently eliminated from the FAI Junior Cup. The last major final that the club contested was the 2014 FAI final but the north side club have always reached the latter stages of the provincial competition. There is a lot of experience in their ranks with the likes of Stephen McNamara, Daragh Hughes and Dermot Fitzgerald lining out for the club for several years despite brief stints for the latter two at Fairview.

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Added to the trio, Adrian Power and Aidan Hurley have a lot of winning experience following successful stints with Janesboro, where they suffered heartbreak in the competition in 2018 in a penalty shoot-out against Pike Rovers in the final at Jackman Park. Striker Arron Nunan won the competition with Pike in 2017. Ballynanty are due a result in a big game as they have struggled in games against Pike and Fairview in recent seasons.

Eddie Byrnes will return to play the club where he won the FAI Junior Cup in the colours of Ballynanty on Saturday .Picture: Gareth Williams

Fairview Rangers will be looking to add to their recent major honours list of the FAI Junior and Presidents Cup with a win in the Munster Junior Cup. They will be looking to avenge heartbreak in the 2020 final where they lost 1-0 to Aisling Annacotty at Jackman Park.

Shane Duggan has been in good form for the Fairgreen outfit as of late and was unlucky not to grab a couple of goals against Pike. If Jason Hughes lines out for the visitors, the battle between the two former Airtricity League players will be of huge interest. With Jeffrey Judge and Stephen Bradley likely to make up the midfield trio, Aidan Hurley and Thomas Byrnes will have a tough night to contain the home side.

Ballynanty’s youthful centre-backs Jake Dillon and Adam Costelloe have been hugely impressive since emerging last season and they will be looking to make it difficult for Fairview’s Ross Mann. AJ Moloney is providing huge competition for the former Limerick FC striker who will be looking to get back on the consistent goal trail.

Adam Costelloe has been a standout player for Ballynanty in the last 18 months

In the Limerick District League Premier Division, Aisling Annacotty hot Prospect Priory in Annacotty on Sunday morning (11am). Annacotty were comprehensive winners of the fixture last season but Prospect are in with a great chance of reaching the top six. They are currently three points behind Nenagh who currently occupy sixth spot but Prospect have a game in hand which will be Sunday’s encounter. Despite having a very small squad, Wayne Colbert has built a solid outfit who have been a match for most sides in the division this season.

Shane O’Hanlon will be hoping to gain victory to draw his side level with Fairview Rangers and pull Pike’s deficit back to 3 points. Annacotty drew 2-2 last week with Nenagh with Liam Quinn scoring a brace. They will be favourites for the game and will be expected to win.

The Aisling Annacotty team which recently defeated Mungret Regional in the Tuohy Cup

There is a huge game taking place on Sunday morning for Mungret Regional on Sunday morning as they entertain near rivals Regional United in Mungret. Richie Burke’s side have been drawn very close to the relegation zone in recent weeks although they still have a 5 point advantage over both Geraldines and Kilmallock. There were signs of promise in a recent resilient display against Annacotty in the Tuohy Cup. Burke has had to chop and change his defence all season, particularly at centre-back which has been a problem.

Regional will arrive in Mungret full of confidence following their huge win in the FAI Junior Cup and will be looking to put pressure on the likes of Ballynanty and Annacotty ahead of them as they are assured of a top 6 finish as we predicted at the beginning of the season.

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