Preview of the first round of the Senior and Intermediate football championships
by John Redington
SFC Group 1
Pallasgreen v Father Caseys, Kilmallock, Friday 7:00pmCaseys have had a series of minor successes in recent years but it has yet to bear fruit at senior. Champions in 2007 and beaten finalists after a replay in 2009, they will be one of the fancies for the title. Although they made an immediate impression in their first two seasons at senior, Pallas’s performances flattened out last year and haven’t been getting the same injection of underage talent as their opponents.
Saint Patrick’s v Adare, Clarina, Monday 700pm
Pats’ debut season at senior ended in extraordinary circumstances last August when they sat on their lead rather pressing home their advantage over Monaleen. As a result, they lost out on a quarter-final place to their opponents who went all the way to championship honours. They’ll hope to pick up where they left off but intermediate champions don’t always have the same bounce in their second seasons. Adare surprised many by making last year’s final and their performance this year may once again depend on whether they can maintain their focus on both senior titles.
Monaleen v Galbally, Hospital, Monday 7:00pmFrom being minutes away from last season’s relegation play-off, Monaleen dramatically turned their season around to scrape into the play-offs and then dispose of all opposition on their way to their fourth title. They should have a stronger panel this year after a close season recruitment drive has enticed inter-county stars from both inside and outside the county. Galbally will be hoping to make the usual first impressions of intermediate champions and have some up-and-coming homebred talent filling out the experience in their lineup.
SFC Group 2
Ballysteen v Saint Senan’s, Newcastlewest, Thursday 7:00pmThe Estuary neighbours have suffered from the effects of the recession as emigration took its toll on their panels. After knocking on the door for a number of seasons, Senans’ progress stalled last year when they failed to qualify for the play-offs. Ballysteen made it out of their group but failed in the quarter-final to Ballylanders. Local rivalry adds spice to this clash where the ability to close off a result may weigh as heavily as form and performance.
Ballylanders v Dromcologher-Broadford, Kilmallock, Sunday 7:00pmTwo of the sides who dominated the championship over the past decade will be hoping to squeeze another campaign from their seasoned panels. After impressing in their qualifying groups, both surprisingly crashed out in last season’s semi-finals. Drom, Limerick’s only club to win provincial honours, are the best team in the county at focussing on a result but opponents are becoming increasingly attuned on how to counteract their possession game.
Newcastlewest v Saint Kieran’s, Feenagh, Sunday 7:00pmWhile they’ve made the knockout stages on occasions over the past decade, th West Limerick neighbours have been more concerned with avoiding relegation in recent years. However, a steady input of underage talent may improve the outlook for both of them in coming years. While Kierans can squeeze results out of tight games, Newcastle have the ability to turn it on when things start to click and much will depend on how much space bothers Stephen and Jamesie Kelly are given to display their talents.
IFC Group 1
Oola v Gerald Griffins, Claughaun, Friday 7:00pmOola impressed as last year’s runners-up. After dicing with demotion for years, Ballyhahill have been improving over the past two seasons but won’t find it easy against one of the championship favourites.
Mountcollins v Cappamore, Ballyagran, Friday 7:00pmCappamore may be ageing, may be unearthing few new players and may have scraped survival out of last year’s relegation play-off but they’re still one of the most competitive sides in the game. Mountcollins had an excellent debut in the grade last year but won’t be helped by emigration.
Mungret v Athea, Askeaton, Friday 7:00pmMungret were awful at the start of last season but turned it around as the summer wore on. A horrific defeat in the City championship the weekend before might suggest that history could repeat itself. Opponents Athea have been in the lower half of the grade since their descent from senior a few years back and will be hoping for an early victory to ease relegation pressure.
IFC Group 2
Hospital-Herbertstown v Bruree, Bruff, Friday 7:00pmHospital were making all the shapes of a side on an immediate return to senior before they crashed out in the semi-finals and had to settle for promotion to the top rank in hurling. Bruree surprised long-time favourites Glin and then Kilteely-Dromkeen to win last year’s junior A. Both clubs will have one eye on the following weekend’s senior hurling championship and the outcome may depend on who can keep the focus on both.
Na Piarsaigh v Bruff, Ballingarry, Monday 6:00pmAfter making the 2009 final, Na Piarsaigh disappointed last year and will be hoping to pick where they left off. Bruff weren’t far off the podium in 2010 and will be hoping that the momentum gained will be enough to overcome the depth of their opponents’ panel.
Claughaun v Croom, Mungret, Monday 7:00pmAfter a half-century as at senior ended last September, this will be Claughaun’s first ever game at intermediate. Early season performances suggest that they’re aiming for an immediate return. Heavily dependant on their three county stars John Galvin, Stephen Lucey and Mark O’Riordan, Croom tend to be at their best in the first round.