Weekly Observer Premier Division League Cup Final (extra time & penalties if required).
Abbeyfeale United vs Rathkeale AFC.
Abbeyfeale United and Rathkeale will do battle once again but on a bigger stage this time around as they will compete in the Premier Division League Cup Final in Clounreask on Saturday evening.
Abbeyfeale United are joint third in the Premier Division and will be keen to walk away with the cup on Saturday with it being the only domestic competition they can win at this stage of the season. Their campaign has been a relatively easy one as their quarter final tie saw them defeat Athea United 5-2 at the Vales while they were 3-0 winners at home to Newcastle West AFC in the semi final. Despite an easy route to the final they have proven themselves as one of the elite in the Desmond League having won the Munster Champions Trophy in December along with reaching the sixth round of the FAI Junior Cup. Abbeyfeale were successful in their last game recording a 3-0 win at home to Killeaney but have only two wins from their last five while being kept scoreless in their three defeats. They will be hoping that they have better luck in Clounreask than their last outing where they lost out to Broadford United especially when they have had such good fortunes this season having recorded sixteen wins from nineteen cup games. Abbeyfeale have a strong squad with Billy Quirke in between the sticks, the youthful Chris Smith and the vastly experienced Joe Kelliher along with fitness levels which might be the best around.
Rathkeale are top of the Premier Division table and are on course for a double. They also had no issues in their previous league cup games having defeated Newcastle West Rovers 3-0 and Carrig Celtic 3-1 with both games being played in Holycross. Rathkeale were convincing winners at home to Newcastle West AFC in the league last Sunday and have only lost once in their last sixteen games. They have not done as well in cups as their opponents this Sunday but they still have a cup final to show for their hard work along with eight wins from eleven in all cup competitions. They kept a clean sheet when they defeated Abbeyfeale United last which will be a great boost of confidence ahead of this game but like the Fealesiders, their last trip to Clounreask ended in the same fashion. Rathkeale might not have as much youth and fitness as Abbeyfeale but they certainly have the footballing prowess to beat the band. Declan Nash is fond of finding the net up front while Keith Harnett will provide assistance from further down the field.
The first meeting between these two went in favour of Abbeyfeale, the second ended in a draw while Rathkeale came out on top in their latest meeting. I do not think there will be much between them but Rathkeale are in form and so they get my verdict.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Rathkeale AFC.
Weekly Observer Premier Division.
Broadford United vs Newcastle West AFC.
While Sunday morning sees Broadford United look to close the gap between them and league leaders Rathkeale to five points as they host relegation strugglers Newcastle West AFC. Broadford are second in the table and are the only side who can catch Rathkeale at this stage of the season. They have won their last three games on the bounce while only losing once in their last seven, but they will be cautious of Newcastle having been eliminated from the Premier Division league cup by them back in March. Broadford will enjoy home advantage for the third game in a row and have not lost in Cove Park since that cup game. Michael Brosnan’s fantastic run of form does not seem like stopping anytime soon and he will be keen to get on the scoresheet once again on Sunday. Newcastle West AFC lie tenth in the table and are nine points away from safety with a game in hand. In contrast to Broadford, Newcastle have not won a game since their league cup victory having lost all five games since. Their 4-3 loss at home to Athea United is a loss they will be kicking themselves about but they can only look to future games like this Sunday to get the points they need. With Newcastle having lost by considerable margins against Abbeyfeale, Newcastle West Rovers and Rathkeale, I see Broadford taking this one.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Broadford United.
Weekly Observer Division 2.
Askeaton AFC vs Rockhill Rovers.
The final round of Division Two games takes place this Sunday with the first of four seeing Askeaton host Rockhill Rovers. Like many clubs on Sunday, Askeaton are merely playing for pride and could boost their final league position from seventh to fifth should Newcastle West Rovers B and Bally Rovers both fail to record victories. Their game last Friday ended in defeat for them as they lost 3-1 away to Newcastle West Rovers B and they will not want to end the the league campaign in a loss and let Rockhill Rovers complete a double over them. Home form has been okay as of late with two wins from five and they will be confident of a result despite their 3-0 away loss earlier in the season considering Rockhill’s poor away form. With this Sunday’s game coming just five days before their league cup final, it would be expected that they would field a weakened side. Rockhill Rovers are eighth in the table and are just one point above the drop zone going into the final day. A win for them this Sunday will guarantee safety regardless of how Glin Rovers B do away to St. Ita’s but the odds are stacked against them as they only have one draw from nine games on the road in all competitions. A tough one to call considering Askeaton’s cup final, I think a draw or an Askeaton victory are the most probable results and I will go for home win.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Askeaton AFC.
Newcastle West Rovers B vs Ballysteen AFC.
Newcastle West Rovers B stand between Ballysteen and an undefeated league campaign when they meet in Woodfield this Sunday. Rovers are sixth in the table and have nothing to play for but provided Bally Rovers lose to Shountrade they could finish fifth should they beat the champions this Sunday. They did double duty last weekend defeating Askeaton 3-1 at home on Friday but they lost by the same scoreline away to Bally Rovers two days later. They only lost out by a single goal when they visited Ballysteen last December and they stand a good a chance of getting a result having only lost one of their last five home games. First placed Ballysteen will settle for a draw this Sunday with it being all they need to secure an undefeated league campaign. This is their final game of the season and they will want to get a win having recorded a draw and a loss in their previous two games. They have only lost once in their last seven games and have won their last two away games and with their being a lot of pride at stake I see Ballysteen coming out on top.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Ballysteen AFC.
Shountrade AFC vs Bally Rovers.
Shountrade will look to continue their good fortunes when they host Bally Rovers this Sunday. Shountrade are joint third and like Askeaton, will more than likely rest players ahead of their crucial league cup final the following Friday. Their 1-0 win away to Glin Rovers B last weekend made it eleven games unbeaten for them and another result this Sunday will keep the spirits high for the forthcoming cup final. Bally Rovers are fifth in the table and could drop to seventh should they lose and Newcastle West Rovers B and Askeaton both pick up victories. Their 3-1 win at home to Newcastle West Rovers B last Sunday ended a five game losing streak and they will look to make amends for their home loss to Shountrade from October. Away form has not favoured them this season having lost their last three games on the road but last weekend’s victory against Rovers B might have helped them turn a corner ahead of their final game. Like the Askeaton game it is tough to call as Shountrade will be inclined to rest players. I still think that Shountrade will have enough to come away with the victory here.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Shountrade AFC.
St. Ita’s vs Glin Rovers B.
The final Division Two game of the season sees St. Ita’s take on Glin Rovers B. This will be St. Ita’s final game of the season and they will look to maintain their position of third place with a victory. Last Sunday’s 5-0 win away to Rockhill marked their third win in a row and their first clean sheet since mid-February. This will be their third meeting with Glin Rovers B as they defeated them 2-0 away from home last October but their last meeting saw Glin come out on top by the odd goal in three in the league cup quarter final. They seemed to have turned a corner as of late having gone through a purple patch from February to April and have two wins and one draw from their last five home games. Ninth placed Glin Rovers B will need a result this Sunday if they are to have any hope of surviving in Division Two. Should they draw and Rockhill Rovers lose to Askeaton they will have a relegation playoff to look forward to but if they can pick up all three points and hope that Rockhill do not win then they will survive at Rockhill’s expense. They have recorded a draw and two losses in their last three games but have not scored in any of those games. Away form has never favoured a Glin side as they have two wins and three draws from eleven outings. The statistic that gives them a glimmer of hope going into this game is that one of their two wins came away to St. Ita’s at the start of April and having done it once before, they will be confident of doing it again. Glin have it all to play for but I still think that Ita’s will take this one.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: St. Ita’s AFC.
Weekly Observer Division 3 League Cup (90 minutes).
Creeves Celtic vs Ferry Rangers.
The final Division Three league cup games take place this Sunday also as Creeves Celtic host Ferry Rangers. Creeves Celtic are fifth and sit one point behind the shield final placings which is all they can hope for. Things are looking up for them following a 5-3 win at home to Newcastle West B last Sunday and they will need to carry that momentum onto what could very well be their final game of the season. They are in a fortunate position as Ferry Rangers have qualified for the league cup final and have nothing to play for this Sunday, but the fact that they have have only managed a draw in their two meetings will loom over them. They have won their last three home games in a row and have every chance of getting a result with recent form taken into consideration. First placed Ferry Rangers have their spot in the league cup final secured regardless of the result on Sunday and so there may be a temptation to rest players for that final. Ferry have not lost in their five league cup games and have not lost on the road in their last four along with being victorious in their only visit to the thatch this season. The result of this all depends on whether or not Ferry have a strong side, and while I would not rule out a Creeves victory I do see this one ending in a draw.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Draw.
Knockaderry vs Carrig Celtic B.
Knockaderry host Carrig Celtic B in an important game for both sides. Knockaderry are third on seven points and could put themselves joint second with Carrig should they pick up the three points on Sunday. They were unsuccessful in their last game, losing 4-2 away to Ferry Rangers, and will seek to beat a team they have lost to twice already this Sunday in order to book a final spot. They have home advantage this Sunday which has done wonders for them as of late having won five of their last six on home soil while keeping clean sheets in those five victories also. It is also worth noting that their most recent home loss was a 1-0 Desmond Cup defeat against Premier Division champions elect Rathkeale which is a very respectable result considering Rathkeale have demolished sides in higher divisions than Knockaderry. Carrig Celtic B are second on ten points and are guaranteed a shield final at the very worst regardless of Sunday’s result although a draw will be enough to guarantee a cup final. They kept a clean sheet in their 3-0 win at home to Glantine B last Sunday and have only lost once in their five league cup games. Away form has not been great for Carrig with a win and a draw from their last five although they do have the upper hand having beaten Knockaderry twice already. Carrig have proven themselves as one of the top sides in this league cup and so I see them meeting Ferry Rangers in the final following a victory this Sunday.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Carrig Celtic B.
Newcastle West B vs Feenagh B.
The final game of the weekend is also the final Division Three league cup game as Newcastle West B meet Feenagh B. Newcastle are fourth in the table and will look to bounce back from their 5-3 loss away to Creeves Celtic last week. They will be grateful to be back on home soil this Sunday where they consistently do well having won their last three in a row while keeping clean sheets in two of those. They have a win and a draw to their name against Feenagh B having beaten them 4-0 in March but they will be a bit more cautious this time around considering the visitors’ recent form. Feenagh B are sixth in the table and will look to get three points in order to grab a shield final spot. They have done well recently picking up their first two wins of the season in their last four games and they will be keen to grab their third against a side they held to a stalemate back in September. They pushed Ferry Rangers close in their last game while their away form ahead of this Sunday does not favour them with a draw from November being their only result. Newcastle West B would only love to do the double and so I see them getting three points.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Newcastle West B.