Munster Junior Cup 4th Round (extra time & penalties if required).
Broadford United vs Tower FC.
Our first game of the week sees Broadford United looking to advance to the last sixteen of the Munster Junior Cup as they host Tower FC of Cork. Broadford started their Munster Junior Cup campaign with a 3-1 extra-time win away to Killeaney. In the second round they really showed what they were made of as they came back from being 2-0 down at half-time to Rathkeale to go on and win 3-2 in extra-time. The third round saw them record a comfortable 2-0 win away to Ballingarry which has led them to this game on Sunday. Broadford have only been beaten four times from fifteen games in all competitions with two of those being by a single goal and are one of the top teams of the Premier Division. They have spent most of their time on the road but will be returning to their home grounds after a week’s hiatus for their fifth game with their previous four games seeing them record three wins and a loss. Tower FC play their games in the Cork AUL League One which is the third tier of their leagues. All of their previous wins in this competition have come away from home so they will be confident in their ability to travel and win. They started out with a 4-3 win against Macroom who are a division above them and followed this up with a 2-1 win in extra-time against another side who are a division above them in Waterloo. Their third round game saw them defeat Parse Celtic B 3-0. In the league they are currently sixth out of eight teams with three wins and two losses. They have some strong players such as Eric Tobin who has shown his scoring prowess in the past along with the ability to keep going for the duration of the game while James Buckley grabbed four of the five goals for his side in their County Cup second round game against St. John Boscos B which makes him another one to look out for also. Broadford are a strong side and it looks like they will be too strong for Tower come Sunday.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Broadford United.
Weekly Observer Premier Division.
Athea United vs Glin Rovers.
The first of really three close Premier Division games sees Athea United make their return following the Christmas break with a home fixture against Glin Rovers. Athea hang just one point above Newcastle West in the relegation zone and have failed to win from their last five games in all competitions. Athea have recorded two wins and two draws from their twelve games in all competitions with all of their wins and one draw coming from games at The Vales. These results, along with it taking Tralee Dynamos until the 88th minute to grab a winner in the FAI Junior Cup, are a strong statistic for them as they face a side who are prone to travel sickness. Glin Rovers bounced back from their loss the week before in phenomenal fashion defeating Carrig Celtic 7-2 at home and will look towards two in a row as they face a side that they were successful against in their first meeting in November. Glin will also look to get their first three points away from home with them having no luck in their past five outings with just two draws. Karl O’Sullivan was the star of the show in their win on Sunday with a hat-trick and is a very capable player who will pose a real threat to Athea. Glin Rovers have not done well away from home but with the big victory they picked up last Sunday I see them carrying that momentum with them to The Vales and picking up the win.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Glin Rovers.
Carrig Celtic vs Newcastle West AFC.
Two teams who had no luck in their games at the weekend will face off with the hope of returning to winning ways as Carrig Celtic face off against Newcastle West AFC. Carrig Celtic’s loss at the weekend was a tough blow following two successive wins and so a win on Sunday would be a great way to return to form. They return to their home grounds after four games away from home in a row where they emerged with two wins and two losses and will be hoping for a better home result than their last one as they fell to a 6-0 defeat at the hands of Abbeyfeale United. Outside of that last defeat their run at home has been generally good and more prosperous than their away form having defeated Turnpike Rovers, Mastergeeha and Ballingarry as well as draws with Athea United and Glin Rovers. Despite defeating Newcastle West AFC in the Demesne in their first encounter the opponents are off the back of a great losing performance against Newcastle West Rovers and will enter this game looking to make up for last week’s mistakes. The visitors put on a good display last Sunday despite going down to a 3-1 defeat and could have grabbed a draw if it were not for Kevin Mee’s penalty save for Rovers. Newcastle are in the midst of a three game losing streak and are currently second from bottom in the league with three points on Sunday moving them out of the drop zone and into joint seventh with Ballingarry should Athea United fail to defeat Glin Rovers. Carrig were slim winners when these two last met and I think they will be slim winners again but I would not rule out Newcastle.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Carrig Celtic.
Rathkeale AFC vs Abbeyfeale United.
The big game in the Premier Division sees two teams that are hotly tipped to win the league title do battle as Rathkeale host Abbeyfeale United in Holycross for the second time this season. Rathkeale go into this game after their tenth successive league win against Ballingarry last Sunday and will hope to make up for their Munster Junior Cup loss to Abbeyfeale this weekend. With that victory also came their fourth win in a row and in those four wins they have scored sixteen, conceded four and kept clean three sheets. A win on Sunday would be massive for Rathkeale as it would put them thirteen points clear of second placed Newcastle West Rovers and it would also mean they have defeated every team in the league at least once this season. Keith Hartnett was the only scorer in their 1-0 victory over Ballingarry and is an invaluable asset to his side. While Declan Nash is just as important and will be looking to hit the net again following his brace against Broadford United two weeks ago. Abbeyfeale United return to the Premier Division following their 2-0 defeat to Navan Cosmos in the FAI Junior Cup and will look towards going a step closer to lifting their third league title in a row by winning in Holycross on Sunday. That loss ended an undefeated streak that went as far back as April of 2016 but they will consider this as a game they can win considering their last meeting with this side. Abbeyfeale boast many great young players with fantastic fitness that can not be matched by any other as shown by the fact that Abbeyfeale United have come out on top in the three times they have gone to extra-time this year. Chris Smith had a fantastic game at the weekend with a dominant display from centre-back winning almost every header that came his way while Joe Kelliher put on another fantastic display in the middle of the field using great footwork to manoeuvre around the centre circle. Following his substitution just before the half-time interval, it will be interesting to see if Mike Sheehan will be fit to play this crucial game for his side especially with him being such a presence in the air. Rathkeale have a very experienced side who are probably the better soccer players but Abbeyfeale United’s youth and athleticism is enough to match it and so I feel that they will take the points here.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Abbeyfeale United.
Weekly Observer Division 1.
Abbeyfeale United B vs Granagh United.
We move on to Division One where two sides who had little between them in their first encounter square off for the second time as Abbeyfeale United B take on the league leaders Granagh United. This will be Abbeyfeale United B’s first game in two weeks as their last game saw them edge out Rathkeale B in Holycross. That result ended a three game streak without a win and they will not want to revisit that dry streak by winning on Sunday. They will return to Riverside Park for their first game since before Christmas where they drew 0-0 with Glantine and their fifth home game in total. Things have gone their way for the most part on their own turf with one win, two draws and one loss and with them staying very competitive until the end of their last encounter they will see this as a game that they can pull a result from. Granagh United recorded their fifth win in a row on Sunday when they defeated Glantine 3-1 and will want to make it six with a win on Sunday. With a loss to Shannonside and a scoreless draw with Breska Rovers being their only dropped points, Granagh have done excellently for themselves by grabbing wins almost every week. They go in to this game with four wins and a draw on the road in Division One with their 4-0 victory over AK United and 5-2 victory over Glantine being the most significant results from those five games. There was little between both sides last time but I see Granagh United remaining on top of the table with a win on Sunday.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Granagh United.
AK United vs Shannonside FC.
The undefeated Shannonside travel to Kilcornan to take on AK United in another Division One second encounter between two sides. AK held Shannonside to a 1-1 draw last time in Borrigone and with a great win over Breska Rovers behind them they will go in to this tie full of confidence. That win ended a run where they recorded just a draw from six games in all competitions and it just might be the victory they need if they are to use their game in hand to their advantage this Sunday by distancing themselves even further from the relegation zone. Their home form has been average this season with two wins, two draws and two losses and they will need to be at their best if they are to defeat one of their division’s promotion contenders. A narrow 3-2 win against Kildimo United two weeks ago made it eight games unbeaten for Shannonside and they will look towards nine games without a loss on Sunday along with trying to grab the points that they were unable to acquire the last time they did battle with AK United. Shannonside would have been disappointed with having to share the points last time around especially as it was their second successive draw in the league. They will be going into their first away trip since November where they defeated league leaders Granagh United and have done better for themselves on the road than at home with the previously mentioned victory along with wins over Breska Rovers and Rathkeale B being the most notable. This is another tight game but I feel that Shannonside will be up for this and will not want to make any errors if they are to win the league title and so I see them winning this game and keeping the pressure on Granagh United.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Shannonside FC.
Kildimo United vs Glantine.
Our last Division One game sees ninth placed Kildimo United take on third placed Glantine. Despite the dissimilarity between their league positions, it was Kildimo who ran out as winners in their last meeting when they grabbed the three points in a 3-1 away win. Kildimo have fallen off the mark since then with them losing their last five games in all competitions and will want to secure a double over Glantine to ensure that they emerge as survivors from the relegation dogfight that they are currently involved in. Despite their low position in the table Kildimo have pulled it out of the bag on two occasions with victories over Glantine as mentioned as well as AK United, two sides who lie farther up the table than them. With eight games at home already under their belt they have just one win over AK United to their name but they were only beaten by a single goal in four of their seven losses. Glantine will look to bounce back from their 3-1 loss to table toppers Granagh United which in turn ended a run of four games unbeaten. They currently sit third in the table and are seven points behind second placed Shannonside who have a game in hand so they have a big task on their hands if they are to be promoted. They will aim to gain the three points they missed out on when they first took on Kildimo and will look towards their away victory over Rathkeale B and draw against Shannonside as signs of how capable they can be on the road. Despite Kildimo grabbing the points last time around, Glantine have emerged from that blip and so I see them winning on Sunday.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Glantine.
Weekly Observer Division 2.
Glin Rovers B vs Bally Rovers.
Our first Division Two game sees two of the four Rovers that make up Division Two face off as Glin Rovers B host Bally Rovers. Glin return to action following the Christmas break and will look to end the four game losing streak that they have endured as of late. Glin sit ninth in the table and are five points behind eighth placed Rockhill Rovers with two games in hand so they will need to make them count if they are to escape the relegation zone. This Sunday they take on a team that they were unsuccessful against in their first encounter in September of last year as Bally Rovers were 5-2 winners in Ballyhahill. Glin have shown glimpses of what they can do throughout the season including a draw with second placed Adare United on the second day of the season along with a win over Rockhill Rovers. They will return to their home grounds for their first game since the beginning of December and with their two league wins both coming at home they will be more optimistic about getting a result. While Bally Rovers will make their return after Christmas this Sunday following the cancellation of their game against St. Ita’s last Sunday and they will aim to rid of their two game losing streak with a victory. The Ballyhahill based side had no luck in their last two games against Askeaton and Ballysteen and will look to pick up their third victory away from home in Glin. They sit sixth in the table with fifteen points at present and have grabbed some good wins over the course of their league campaign including a 4-3 away win against Askeaton and a double over Rockhill Rovers. With just one clean sheet from thirteen games in all competitions they will have a hard time keeping a side like Glin Rovers B at bay considering they have only been kept scoreless twice. Bally Rovers were convincing winners last time around and I see them winning again this Sunday.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Bally Rovers.
Newcastle West Rovers B vs Askeaton AFC.
After a big win last Sunday Newcastle West Rovers B will aim for another big three points when they take on Askeaton. Rovers victory over Adare United puts them into seventh place in the table and seven points away from Glin Rovers B in the relegation zone. That was their first win after a run of five games without one and they will see this home game as a chance to pick up their second in a row. Rovers have recorded more points at home than away despite playing a game less in Woodfield with some great results including a draw with St. Ita’s and a convincing victory over Shountrade. Askeaton edged out Bally Rovers in their last game and will hope to keep their promotion prospects alive with a win on Sunday. Askeaton are joint third in the table and are three points behind second placed Adare United with a game in hand and will need to make every game count if they are to overtake them in the league table. They were 4-1 winners at home earlier in the year against the same opposition and will hope to improve their away form which has seen great results such as a 3-0 win over St. Ita’s, as well as poor showings including a 3-0 loss to Rockhill Rovers and a 6-1 defeat at the hands of Ballysteen. Askeaton were winners last time and I feel that they will emerge as winners again on Sunday.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Askeaton AFC.
Rockhill Rovers vs Adare United.
In what should be a close contest, Rockhill Rovers host Adare United in our second to last Division Two game of the weekend. Rockhill’s loss to Shountrade last Sunday means that they have failed to win any of their last six games. All six of those losses were away from home with travelling seeming to be their Achilles heel so with their return to their home grounds for the first time since October they will be hopeful of a win. Of the twelve points that Rockhill have accumulated this season only one of them has come on the road. Their last home game saw them defeat Askeaton 3-0 and they have held Ballysteen to a 3-3 draw as well so Adare United will be wary going in to this game. Adare United have had a torrid time of it as of late losing their last two games in a row to Newcastle West Rovers B and Ballysteen. They still find themselves joint top but Ballysteen have three games in hand while Askeaton and St. Ita’s are hot on their tail as they are both three points behind with a game in hand. Adare have proven their worth throughout the season both home and away but their away results will be of greater importance as they go to a place that is immensely difficult to return from with a result. Their 3-1 win away to St. Ita’s was their most impressive while their wins over both Newcastle West Rovers B and Glin Rovers B are worth mentioning also. Despite Adare being ten points ahead of Rockhill and having already beaten them 6-1 at home this year, I feel that they will have a task on their hands if they are to get a win on Sunday and so I see them sharing the points.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Draw.
Shountrade AFC vs Ballysteen AFC
Our final Division Two game sees Shountrade host Ballysteen in Kiltannan. Shountrade’s 6-4 victory against Rockhill Rovers in their last game made it five wins in a row for them, a fantastic run of form. They now sit fifth in the table and are two points behind Askeaton and St. Ita’s who both have a game in hand, and a win against the undefeated leaders would give them every chance of moving further up the table. Shountrade have shown their strength at home throughout the season with five wins, one draw and one loss. Their draw was against one of the sides that they are trying to overtake in Askeaton while their loss saw them go down 4-0 at half-time before going on to keep St. Ita’s scoreless in the second period along with scoring one for themselves. Ballysteen go in to this game off the back of their biggest win so far this season as they defeated Adare United 4-0 away from home. They are joint top in Division Two with Adare but have the huge advantage of having three games in hand. They have recorded victories against almost every side they have faced and will be confident of another victory considering the 3-0 win they picked up the last time these two teams faced. They are heading in to their seventh away game and their form on the road is similar to the home form of Shountrade with four wins, one draw and one loss. With so many good results behind them it is hard to look past a Ballysteen victory and so my prediction goes to them.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Ballysteen AFC.
Weekly Observer Division 3.
Ferry Rangers vs Feenagh B.
We jump into Division Three with the undefeated table toppers Ferry Rangers as they host Feenagh B on Sunday. Ferry made it three wins on the trot with their win over Glantine B two weeks ago and will look to make it four with a win over Feenagh B on Sunday. With six wins and two draws, Ferry have been unstoppable this season with only Creeves Celtic and Knockaderry being able to come close to them in their stalemates with the Tarbert side. They go in this game with a home record which is equally as good as their away record having defeated Newcastle West B and Carrig Celtic B along with a victory against Rathkeale B of Division One in the Riedy Joinery Cup. They edged out their opponents this Sunday on a 4-3 scoreline when they met in Feenagh but Ferry will be confident of a more convincing win this Sunday considering their strength at home. Feenagh B are still in search for their first three points of the year and will be even more urgent to do so with Glantine B picking up their first win last Sunday. Like Ferry Rangers, Feenagh B have an away record which is identical to their form at home and their one away result saw them draw with Glantine B. They grabbed a good 2-2 draw at home to Newcastle West B during the year and were not far behind Ferry when they met them last either so they will be up for this contest. Ferry Rangers are on a run that does not seem like stopping and so I see them getting the win on Sunday and moving closer to the Division Three title.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Ferry Rangers.
Glantine B vs Creeves Celtic.
Two teams coming back from contrasting results at the weekend face off when Glantine B take on Creeves Celtic. Glantine B recorded their first win of the season in convincing fashion as they defeated Carrig Celtic B 3-0. It was a great result for them against one of the better sides in Division Three and they will look to make it two wins in a row with a win against Creeves Celtic. Glantine B really have saved their best for their home games with one win, two draws and a loss in their own grounds which is a great statistic heading in to a game against a Division Three heavyweight in Creeves Celtic. Creeves Celtic suffered a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Knockaderry last Sunday and will need a win on Sunday to keep their promotion hopes alive. They sit fourth in the table and are one point behind second placed Newcastle West B who have a game in hand. A win is absolutely vital for Creeves as their remaining three games after Sunday are tough tests which include two home games against Newcastle West B and Ferry Rangers along with an away trip to face Carrig Celtic B. They had a good 5-1 win the last time they met in Newbridge and that will give them plenty of confidence but that fact that Glantine B have only lost to Ferry Rangers at home shows that this a tough place to go to. I find this a tough one to call but am inclined to lean towards Creeves Celtic due to how convincing their victory was in their first meeting.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Creeves Celtic.
Newcastle West B vs Knockaderry.
We wrap up our coverage of Division Three as well as this week’s preview with this division’s biggest game of the weekend as Newcastle West B entertain Knockaderry in the Demesne. Both sides are tied at second place in the table with fourteen points each but Newcastle have the upper hand due to them having a game less played. Newcastle’s last game saw them do a complete 180° from the game before as they defeated Carrig Celtic B 6-1 away. A great win which has put them in a good position to be promoted and a fantastic way to boost their confidence following a tough loss to Ferry Rangers the game prior. Newcastle head in to their seventh home game of the year with their previous six going their way for the most part with four wins, one draw and one loss in all competitions. Two of those victories include cup wins against Rockhill Rovers and Glin Rovers B of Division Two which shows just how capable of a team that Newcastle are. Knockaderry are fresh off the back of their second win in a row as they defeated Creeves Celtic 2-0 last week to put themselves right up there with Newcastle West B. After a shaky run of form, that victory has put them right on track to move up to Division Two and a win against a side who are another promotion contender would be huge. With two wins, one draw and one loss, they have an above average away form and will be disappointed at dropping points to Glantine B in a 1-1 stalemate along with losing 2-1 to Carrig Celtic B. With that said they have proven they can produce the goods on the road with their comeback from 2-0 down at half-time to Creeves Celtic before coming back to win 3-2 and a 1-0 victory against Feenagh B being two great results. I feel that with Newcastle picking up the win in their away trip to Knockaderry that they will be capable of doing the same in their own grounds.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Newcastle West B.