Weekly Observer Premier Division
Abbeyfeale United vs Newcastle West AFC
Our first game of 2017 sees the high-flying Abbeyfeale United play hosts to Newcastle West AFC in the Premier Division. This will be Abbeyfeale’s first game since their Munster Champions Trophy triumph against St. Michael’s of Tipperary as well as their first league game since the end of October when they defeated Athea United 6-1 so they will be looking to maintain their winning form in their return to the local leagues. Abbeyfeale lie ten points off of league leaders Rathkeale with two games in hand so a win this Sunday will be another step closer to the top of the table. The home side have impressed in their last three games in league competition with three wins, eighteen goals scored, two goals conceded and one clean sheet. They have been dominant throughout the season in all competitions and have yet to lose so they will go into this contest as favourites. While Newcastle West’s last outing before the Christmas break did not end well as they lost 7-1 to Rathkeale in the Demesne. It was tough loss for them considering the great win and draw they picked up prior to it against Killeaney and Glin Rovers respectively and they face another tough fixture this Sunday. After a bad start to the year things have improved for Newcastle with the previously mentioned results as well as an extra-time victory against Shannonside in the Munster Junior Cup being signs of that. Abbeyfeale are in flying form which it seems will only be stopped by a team outside of the Desmond League so my prediction goes to them to win this one.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Abbeyfeale United.
Ballingarry AFC vs Glin Rovers
Two sides within three points of each other in the table face off this Sunday when Ballingarry take on Glin Rovers. This is an important fixture for both sides with three points for the home side moving them joint seventh in the table with two games in hand on Glin Rovers while the away side will move up the fifth should Carrig Celtic fail to win against Killeaney as well as moving six points away from the drop zone. Ballingarry have had no success in their last two games in all competitions with home losses to both Carrig Celtic and Broadford United and a win this Sunday will really rejuvenate their home form along with their league campaign. Ballingarry will be facing into their seventh home game of the season and their fourth in a row and have had generally good success in the Paddocks winning four of their first five home games before falling to defeats in their last two. With the exception of an 8-1 loss to Rathkeale on the second day of the season they have never been far behind the opposition in defeat with two goals being the most they have lost by to Broadford United on three separate occasions this year. Glin will be looking for their first away victory of the season this Sunday after having no luck in their four previous away games where they recorded two draws and two losses. They have also not had great luck in their last three games with losses to Abbeyfeale United in extra-time and Broadford United in the league but grabbed a late point in their derby game against Killeaney. With most of their success this season being at home, Glin Rovers enter this game trying to prove that they can deliver on the road. They have not travelled well this season while Ballingarry have been good on their home patch and so I see Ballingarry returning to winning ways with three points this Sunday although I would not rule out a draw in what should be a low scoring affair.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Ballingarry AFC.
Broadford United vs Rathkeale AFC
Our third Premier Division game of the weekend sees two heavyweights face off as Broadford United take on Rathkeale. Broadford made it four wins in a row with an impressive 4-2 victory away to Glin Rovers before the Christmas break and there would be no better way for them to make it five in a row than by beating the undefeated league leaders to push themselves closer to the top. They will move into second place and move three points behind Rathkeale should they pick up the win and they will be more than confident in themselves having not lost in Cove Park this season. The majority of Broadford’s games this year have been away from home where they have more than impressed with their only losses coming at the hands of two other title contenders in Abbeyfeale United and Newcastle West Rovers. In their three home games they have been even better winning all three including a 6-1 win against Killeaney, a 2-0 win against Ballingarry as well as a 3-2 win after extra-time to defeat their opponents this Sunday in the Munster Junior Cup. Ray Lynch has consistently been reliable for his side coming up with goals and great performances each week and he will be needed for this tough game. While Rathkeale finished up 2016 with another great result as they defeated Killeaney 6-0 to make it eight wins from eight in the league and two wins in a row following their 7-1 win against Newcastle West AFC. Outside of their wins they are currently the top scoring team in their league with thirty-five goals and are joint top in goals conceded with Abbeyfeale United as they have only allowed six goals in their eight games. In all competitions they have shown how ruthless then can be with them winning by six goals or more on five separate occasions. A very impressive record for a side who have done more than impress this season with ten wins from their twelve games. Their other two results are a 2-1 loss to Abbeyfeale United in the FAI Junior Cup and a 3-2 extra-time loss to Broadford United in the Munster Junior Cup. It was a poor result for Rathkeale in their last meeting with Broadford considering they were 2-0 up at half-time but with them being knocked out of both the Munster and FAI Junior Cups they will have one main focus for the rest of the season in the form of the league title. Rathkeale boast a very experienced side that are very capable and so they will be more than able to take on this Broadford side. This is a game that could go either way and regardless of the result I see both of them being in contention for the title come the end of the season but I see Rathkeale continuing their league dominance with a ninth victory.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Rathkeale AFC.
Killeaney vs Carrig Celtic
Our final Premier Division game of the weekend sees Killeaney play host to Carrig Celtic in Knockdown. Killeaney fell to a 6-0 loss against Rathkeale in their last game and will be hoping to begin a move from the drop zone with a home win against Carrig Celtic on Sunday. They have not won a game so far this season but their derby game draw against Glin Rovers occurred on their home grounds so they will hope that they will be able to get a result like their last time at home. While Carrig Celtic returned from a three game losing streak by edging out Ballingarry in a 2-1 win at the Paddocks to return to winning ways. That was a great win for them after some poor results and they will be looking to replicate their run of form where they defeated the likes of Newcastle West Rovers and Ballingarry with a second win this Sunday. With four wins out of seven away from home I think that Carrig Celtic will pick up the three points.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Carrig Celtic.
Weekly Observer Division 1
Glantine vs Feenagh
Our first Division One game of the weekend sees the second encounter between Glantine and Feenagh in league competition. Glantine continued their good run of form with a 5-2 win against Rathkeale B in December which made it three games undefeated for them. Another good result for them as they maintained their spot in the upper half of the table and a win this Sunday will move them to third in the table should Breska Rovers fail to win against Granagh United. Glantine have done relatively well at home this season with four wins from six games while their two losses were a 5-2 defeat to Granagh United and an upset 3-1 loss against Kildimo United. Despite a few stutters they have been great this year with draws against other top teams like Shannonside and Abbeyfeale United B as well as two wins against Rathkeale B and a convincing 4-0 victory against Abbeyfeale United B on the second day of the season. Feenagh fell to a second successive loss when they lost 3-1 to Shannonside in Borrigone before Christmas and they will want to start the new year with a win in order to boost their survival hopes. They will fancy their chances going into this contest considering they lost out by a single goal in their first encounter as well as the fact that Kildimo United, a side Feenagh overcame earlier in the year, were able to record a win in Glantine. Feenagh will be looking towards players such as Dan Gayer who is a big presence for his side in between the sticks and was present in the Limerick Desmond League’s squad for all three of their Oscar Traynor Trophy games while the powerful Jamie Butler has been a key player for the them also having racked up some goals for himself. They have had some good showings this year including the aforementioned win against Kildimo United, wins against Pallaskenry and Granagh United and a draw against Pallaskenry. They did the double over Glantine last season so they know that this is a place where they are capable of winning but Glantine seem to be in good form and so I think they will continue that form into the new year with a win.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Glantine.
Granagh United vs Breska Rovers
First takes on third in our second Division One game as Granagh United face Breska Rovers for the second time this season. Granagh’s 4-0 win against AK United in Kilcornan before Christmas meant that they remained on top of the league going into Christmas as well as extending their win streak to three and a win against another good side in Breska Rovers will increase their chances of promotion even higher. This game will be Granagh’s seventh home game of the season and they have done excellently in their other six games with five wins and a loss against fellow promotion hopefuls Shannonside. In their five home victories they have been convincing winners in four of them where they have won by at least four and at most eight goals. In their three games against the other teams that make up the top four they have gathered four points from nine with a win against Glantine, a draw against their opponents this Sunday and a loss to Shannonside so they are capable of getting results against the big guns of the division. While Breska’s last outing before the break ended in success also as they recorded their fifth victory in a row and their third away from home with them defeating Pallaskenry 4-1. That’s a great statistic for the Clarina based side and one that they will be hoping will stand to them as they head into this important fixture. A win for them this Sunday will keep the pressure on second placed Shannonside by putting themselves four points behind them with a game in hand should they lose to Kildimo United in their game. With the exception of their 6-0 loss at the hands of Abbeyfeale United B in October they have been consistent in all competitions this season with six victories, two draws and three losses (one of which they originally won but the result was then overturned due to their fielding of a suspended player) and with one of those draws being against Granagh United they will feel that they will be able to at least match them. This is an extremely interesting contest between two sides that have done ever so well this season. It could go either way and I would not be surprised if it did but I feel that Granagh have proven their ability time and time again and will prove it this Sunday with another win.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Granagh United.
Pallaskenry AFC vs AK United
Pallaskenry and AK United will be both be wanting to further distance themselves from the drop zone when they face off this Sunday. Pallaskenry currently sit eighth in the table and are one point ahead of ninth placed Kildimo United who have a game in hand over Pallaskenry so a win for them this weekend would do wonders for their survival hopes. Pallas have not had a great deal of luck as of late with them failing to win from their last six games. They have had some stiffly contested draws with Feenagh and Rathkeale B but they will have their eyes on their first league three points since the fourth game of the season this Sunday. This will be their fourth home game in a row and their seventh of the season but their fortunes have not been great for them thus far with a win, a draw and four losses. With only one clean sheet to their name and an average of three goals conceded per game they will need to tighten up in the back if they are to get a result. While AK have done somewhat better with them sitting one position ahead of Pallaskenry by two points along with a game in hand to their name as well. AK will also be looking for their first away victory of the season with them only managing a draw against second placed Shannonside from their six previous games on the road. They have shown that they are capable of picking up results with victories against both Feenagh and Kildimo United as well as draws against the previously mentioned Shannonside along with third placed Breska Rovers and Pallaskenry. Recent form has let them down though with them failing to win from their last six games just like Pallaskenry. This is another interesting tie which I feel will end in a stalemate just like their first game.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Draw.
Rathkeale B vs Abbeyfeale United B
Rathkeale B play Abbeyfeale United B in another fixture between two sides who are close to each other in the league table. Rathkeale B are currently sixth in the table where they are six points behind Abbeyfeale United B and a win for them this Sunday would allow them to move closer to the middle of the table and away from the relegation zone. Rathkeale B had no luck in their last game as they fell to a 5-2 defeat at the hands of Glantine but have still done well this year as they have turned their luck around after a four game losing streak to go on a three game unbeaten streak. With them defeating Abbeyfeale 3-1 in Riverside Park earlier in the season they will see this as a great opportunity to return to winning ways. With six games in Holycross under their belt they have only garnered a win and a draw against AK United and Pallaskenry but have ran it close to both Glantine and Breska Rovers despite losing. While Abbeyfeale United B return to action for the first time since their 3-1 loss to Shannonside in Borrigone which completed a trilogy of tough fixtures which included Glantine at home and Granagh United away also. They have only recorded one point out of nine from those three stiff contests and will be looking for their first victory since their 2-0 win against Knockaderry in the Riedy Joinery Cup. That win was the fifth and final victory of their five game win streak which included victories over AK United, Breska Rovers, Kildimo United and Pallaskenry also and by considerable margins too. Abbeyfeale are going into their ninth game on the road this Sunday with them winning five of their previous eight games with their losses coming to promotion contenders in Shannonside, Granagh United and Glantine. Rathkeale B were victors last time as previously mentioned but I think that Abbeyfeale United B will bounce back from previous results with a win on Sunday
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Abbeyfeale United B.
Shannonside FC V Kildimo United
Our final Division One game of the weekend sees Shannonside who are second from the top taking on Kildimo United who are second from the bottom. Both sides will be familiar with each other as they both were relegated from the Premier Division last season so they will be well aware of each side’s strengths and weaknesses. With that being said, Shannonside have shown very few signs of weakness this season with their 3-1 victory against Abbeyfeale United B before Christmas making it seven games unbeaten for them. They have yet to lose in their league campaign with the two losses they have fallen to being against the Premier Division’s Newcastle West AFC in the Munster Junior Cup and Coole FC from Clare in the FAI Junior Cup. They boast the best defensive record in the league with only eleven goals conceded despite only having two clean sheets and are also the second highest scoring team behind table toppers Granagh United with 29 goals from eleven games. Shannonside have yet to lose in Borrigone this season with three wins and two draws and so they will want to keep this record intact on Sunday. While Kildimo United fell to their third successive loss as they went down to a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Granagh United before Christmas and a win against a side that they defeated 2-1 at home last year would be a big boost for their promotion hopes as it would move them out of the bottom two should Pallaskenry fail to win. Kildimo have registered three wins so far this season with two of them being away from home which will be of great benefit to them as they seek to end Shannonside’s unbeaten streak both in the league and at home. Shannonside have proven their worth throughout the season and I see them staying undefeated with a win this Sunday.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Shannonside FC.
Weekly Observer Division 2
Adare United vs Ballysteen
We mark our return to Division Two with a top of the table clash as league leaders Adare United take on second placed Ballysteen in Deerpark Estate. Adare marked their fourth victory in a row with a close 2-1 win away to Ballingarry B but they will face arguably their toughest competition yet when they take on Ballysteen this Sunday. With fourteen games under their belt in all competitions this season they have only lost two of them including their first league loss to Askeaton where they went down 3-0 and a penalty shootout defeat against Ballysteen after neither side could find the net in both regular and extra-time in their Munster Junior Cup clash. Outside of those losses they have recorded excellent results almost everywhere with two wins over Newcastle West Rovers B along with wins over St. Ita’s, Bally Rovers and Rockhill Rovers to name a few. They have a great scoring record having found the net thirty times in the league and only being kept scoreless once. They have scored as high as seven in the past which they will hope they can combine with their equally good defensive rate of only 12 goals conceded to grab three points on Sunday. While Ballysteen bounced back from their elimination from the Richard Hogan Cup by beating Bally Rovers 5-1 at home with John O’Shaughnessy striking three times in the game. It was a fantastic way to return to winning ways following what was only their third loss of the season and their first against a side in the same division as them. A win for Ballysteen on Sunday would be huge for them as they would be level on points at the top of the table with Adare with two games in hand to their advantage. Adare may boast the best goal scoring record but Ballysteen can boast the best defensive record with only 7 goals conceded in as many games despite only having two clean sheets. The away side have yet to lose in their league campaign with some great results including 4-1 away wins against St. Ita’s and Glin Rovers B, a 6-1 home win against Askeaton along with their result against Bally Rovers in their last game. Ballysteen have spent most of their time away from home this season and have had generally good fortunes with three wins, a draw and a loss from their past five games. There was nothing between the two sides when they met in the Munster Junior Cup but I think that Ballysteen will come out on top here and go level with Adare United to spice up the league title battle.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Ballysteen.
Bally Rovers vs Askeaton AFC
Our second Division Two game sees Askeaton travel to Ballyhahill to take on Bally Rovers. Bally Rovers fell to a 5-1 defeat away to Ballysteen in their last game and a win for them this Sunday will allow them to move into at least fourth in the table. Having had an erratic form throughout the season they will need to start racking up a string of consistent wins if they are to push for promotion. Their form at home this season has seen them win every second game as they have recorded three wins over Glin Rovers B, Ballingarry B and Rockhill Rovers and three losses to St. Ita’s, Newcastle West Rovers B and Shountrade. While the visitors this Sunday recorded their third victory in a row as well as their second clean sheet in as many games when a Tomas Lane goal gave them a 1-0 victory against Glin Rovers B and a win this Sunday will move them up to joint second should Ballysteen lose to Adare United. With this being their first away game since October they will be hoping that their luck improves with them only registering a win and a draw from their six away games. This is a difficult game to call between two relatively even sides but I am going to go with Askeaton to pick up the win.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Askeaton.
Newcastle West Rovers B vs Rockhill Rovers
Rockhill Rovers will travel to Woodfield as they take on Newcastle West Rovers B. Newcastle have struggled lately with just a win and a draw from their last five games in all competitions and with them sitting three points above the relegation zone with a game in hand they will need the three points in this contest. Despite their low position in the table they have had great results including two wins against Bally Rovers, single victories over Shountrade and Glin Rovers B and a great draw against St. Ita’s where they were unfortunate not to get three points after having a 2-0 half-time lead. While Rockhill Rovers fell to their fourth defeat in a row when St. Ita’s put four past them at the start of December and they will need a win this Sunday to extend the gap between them and the relegation zone. Rockhill have played away from home six times and have lost all six and will need to start getting results on the road if they are to progress up the table. They have shown their potential in the past with wins against Askeaton and Newcastle West Rovers B as well as a draw with Ballysteen. Despite Rockhill winning 4-2 in their first encounter I think that Newcastle West Rovers B will outshine them with a win on Sunday.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Newcastle West Rovers B.
St. Ita’s vs Ballingarry B
We will finish up our coverage of Division Two for this weekend with Ballingarry B’s trip to Ashford as they take on St. Ita’s. The Saints ended 2016 on a high as they progressed to the Semi-Final of the Richard Hogan Cup with a 4-1 win against Ballysteen. A great result for them considering they lost to the same opposition by the same scoreline on the first day of the season as well as the fact that their home record has not been favorable this year. This marked their third game without a loss and with them having already defeated Ballingarry B 4-0 at the Paddocks earlier in the year they will see this as a great opportunity to make it four games unbeaten as well as keeping themselves at the business end of the table. St. Ita’s form at home had been poor at first but has improved as the season has progressed with their last victory making it three successive home wins. They are joint fifth for the highest scoring team in Division Two but combat that with a great defensive record with thirteen conceded goals making them the third best defensive team along with having seven clean sheets from fifteen games. Ballingarry B’s 2016 ended with their third successive defeat in a narrow 2-1 loss to Adare United. It has been tough for Ballingarry this season but it has gotten slightly better as of late with just one goal being the difference between them and the opposition in their past two losses. They currently sit tenth in the table and are four points off of Glin Rovers B with a game in hand so they will need to make that game in hand count if they are to escape the relegation zone. With St. Ita’s home form improving along with them playing well I feel that they will be too strong for Ballingarry B and will pick up the three points.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: St. Ita’s.
Weekly Observer Division 3
Carrig Celtic B vs Newcastle West B
Our first Division Three game of the weekend sees two promotion hopefuls in the form of Carrig Celtic B and Newcastle West B do battle. Carrig recorded a 1-0 away win in Knockaderry in their last outing, a great result in what is a tough place to go. It was an even better result for them considering it was their first victory after three successive defeats and a win on Sunday against a team who have done excellently this year would significantly improve their promotion chances. They have impressed this season with two victories over Knockaderry and a penalty shootout win against Glin Rovers B in the Riedy Joinery Cup to name a few with their two league losses coming at the hands of two other Division Three heavyweights in the form of Ferry Rangers and Creeves Celtic. With no league losses at home this year they will be hoping that statistic will stand to them in this tie. While Newcastle West B’s promotion hopes took a blow as they went down to a 5-2 loss at the hands of Ferry Rangers in the Demesne in December. Their only two league losses have come at the hands of the Tarbert side as they have done very well against their other opposition with victories against Creeves Celtic and Knockaderry along with a draw against Carrig Celtic B. Their cup form has been fantastic too with victories over both Glin Rovers B and Rockhill Rovers of Division Two. Their record away from home has not done them many favours with a win, a draw and two losses from all competitions so a win here would mean a lot. Carrig Celtic B have done very well at home while Newcastle West B have struggled away from home, these are two great sides that both have their strengths and weaknesses and seem fairly level with each other so I am going to have to go for a draw here.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Draw.
Feenagh B vs Knockaderry
Next up in Division Three we move to Feenagh where they will be taking on Knockaderry with the hope of picking up their first win of the season. Despite having no wins they have recorded some good draws such as a 2-2 draw with Newcastle West B as well as a draw on the same scoreline against Glantine B. Knockaderry have failed to win from their last six games so this might be the best time for Feenagh B to face them if they are to get a result. They have shown their ability in the past with victories against great sides such as Creeves Celtic in the league, Askeaton of Division Two in the Richard Hogan Cup along with taking it to extra-time against Division Two leaders Adare United in the following round. Although Knockaderry have been unable to record results as of late I see them returning to form with a win in this fixture.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Knockaderry.
Ferry Rangers vs Glantine B
Our final game of the weekend sees the undefeated Ferry Rangers play host to Glantine B. Ferry’s unstoppable run continued in their last game when they defeated Newcastle West B 5-2 which put them at the peak of the Division Three table with no losses and four points between them and Creeves Celtic and Carrig Celtic B who share joint second. With two wins over the previously mentioned Newcastle West B, a 2-0 win against their opponents this Sunday as well as draws with Creeves Celtic and Knockaderry, they have proven themselves as a strong side who are capable of winning the league title. While Glantine B recorded their second draw in a row when their game with Knockaderry ended 1-1 and were unfortunate in their game against Newcastle West B having gone up 2-0 before losing 4-2. They have not recorded a win this year but have steadily improved as can be seen by their results as of late. Their rate of conceding goals has declined too which is a favourable statistic as they head into this big game. Ferry Rangers have been strong all of this year and seem to be even stronger at home and so my prediction goes for them to win the game and maintain their unbeaten league form.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Ferry Rangers.