BALLYNANTY Rovers are Limerick’s only remaining representatives as the FAI Junior Cup reaches its semi-final stages at the weekend.
The Limerick side are paired with Newmarket Celtic at the Clare League Grounds on Sunday (kick-off 2pm), while the other semi involves Gorey Rangers of Wexford and Tipperary’s St Michael’s.
Ballynanty have reached the final spot on just three previous occastions, unfortunately losing in all (Whitehall Rangers 1976; St Francis 1982; St Michael’s 2014).
In their away quarter-final, Balla overcame fancied Killarney Celtic on penalties (5-4) after regular time failed to produce a goal.
Over 600 teams set out in pursuit of glory at the start of each season.
High-flying Ballynanty are also through to the last four of the Munster Junior Cup, and in the preliminary round of the FAI Senior Cup have been paired with famed St Michael’s (April 9).
Ballynanty Rovers: Stephen McNamara, Darragh Hughes, Adam Costello, Thomas O’Connor, Josh Adams, Aidan Hurley, James Fitzgerald, Thomas Byrnes, Adrian Power, Conor Keane, Gbadebo Habideen, Cian Fitzgerald, Cian Power, Dermot Fitzgerald.
At the weekend, Aisling Annacotty shocked Villa FC 3-0 to progress into the Munster Youth Cup Final. In the semi-final, played at a well-prepared Jackman Park, the local side had goals through Cian Arthur and the outstanding Donnacha Hogan, who netted twice.
Aisling will be away to either Middleton or Blarney in the final.
HOLDERS Catholic Institute are through to the Women’s Irish Senior Cup Final.
After a scoreless draw over 70 tense minutes, Institute went through 4-2 on shuttles against Railway Union (Dublin) at Rosbrien and will now meet Avoca at the end of the month.
YOUNG Munster need just two more points from their concluding couple of fixtures to advance to the knock-out stages of the All-Ireland League (Division 1A).
At the weekend, The Cookies defeated UCD 23-17 at Tom Clifford Park. Ronan O’Sullivan and George Jacobs scored tries for the winners, while Conor Hayes kicked two conversions and three penalties.
Young Munster are up against Garryowen, who are already relegated and lost 62-0 to Terenure College at Lakelands Park, at Thomond Park on Saturday (3.30pm) and have Cork Constitution at home two weeks’ later.
Cons made sure of their place in the last four with a home 36-19 victory over Shannon, for whom Daniel Okeke, Kelvin Brown, and Cian O’Halloran scored ties, two of which were converted by Mike Cooke.
In the Women’s AIL Series, UL Bohemian kept up their challenge with a 24-7 home win over Wicklow. Chloe Pearce, Stephanie Noonan, Lily Brady, and Kate Flannery scored tries for Bohs, with Flannery converting twice.
ACTION continues at Limerick Stadium on Saturday (first race 7.40pm) with the second-round heats of the €160,000 Con and Annie Kirby Stake.
The event, which is down now to 48 runners, is for juveniles, and is the richest of its kind in the world.
In the opening round, Graham Holland-trained Clona Duke was fasted and the Juvenile Derby Champion is already a leading fancy to land back-to-back Kirbys for his Tipperary handler.
Local trainer Pat Buckley of Doon also remains well represented, having supplied three of the first round heat winners.
It carries a first prize of €80,000, and a nominator’s (for GAA clubs) purse of €20,000.
CHARLES Byrnes, Ballingarry, was on the mark at Limerick’s Greenmount Park on Sunday where the Jack Gilligan-ridden Cafe Con Leche won the two-mile opportunity handicap hurdle in great style.
The 10/1 shot, owned by the trainer’s son Cathal, had any amount in hand as he beat the Brendan Walsh-trained It’sallabouteve by four lengths.
On the same card, Happy Dreams landed the two-mile three-furlong handicap chase for Shannon owner/trainer Michael McDonagh. It was the six-year-old’s second success at Patrickswell.