However, which duo advances directly to the semi-finals and the quartet to complete the quarter-final line-up are still up in the air. Guaranteed places in the knockout stages are champions Dromcollogher-Broadford, Ballylanders, St Patrick’s and Ballylanders.
The remaining two places will be filled by Newcastle West, St Kierans or Ballysteen. Champions Dromcollogher- Broadford got their three-in-a-row bid back on track with a 2-15 to 1-6 win over 2013 intermediate champions St Marys Sean Finns.
Dromcollogher-Broadford lost last time out to end over two years of an unbeaten run in Limerick but bounced back in style with this fine second-half performance.
First-half goals from Ray Lynch and Kevin Noonan had them 2-3 to 1-3 ahead at the break, against a Rathkeale side that were lost a number of regulars. The St Mary’s Sean Finns first-half goal scorer was Timmy O’Connor. But the champions turned on the style in the second half. Killian Phair led the way with four second half points from play. Seanie Buckley, Kevin Noonan and Derry McCarthy were also on the mark. Eoghan O’Connor led the scoring charge for St Mary’s Sean Finns.
Also in this group St Patricks were 3-8 to 0-12 winners over city rivals Monaleen.
Monaleen, beaten finalists a year ago, are now out of contention, while St Patrick’s progress. The Saints had inter-county men Eoin Hanrahan and Gearoid Hegarty in fine form.
Monaleen did hold the early lead but a Hegarty goal helped St Patrick’s to a 1-3 to 0-4 interval advantage.
In the second-half Hanrahan came into his own and kicked 2-5 for the winners, while Ger Collins carried the main scoring threat for the losers.
The third game in this group between Ballylanders and Pallasgreen was postponed but unbeaten Ballylanders are already guaranteed at least a quarter-final spot.
In the other group Fr Casey’s remain unbeaten after a 0-15 to 0-7 win over Galbally. With Liam Kearns coaching, Fr Casey’s now know that a win over St Kieran’s in the final round will guarantee a semi-final spot. They were 0-8 to 0-3 up at half time in this encounter in Kilmallock. Padraig McEnery led the scoring for the winners.
Newcastle West played themselves back into contention with a 1-12 to 2-8 win over St Kieran’s. The winners were 1-6 to 1-4 clear at the break with James Kelly goaling after just nine minutes. But Mike Flynn hit back for St Kieran’s five minutes before the break.
Jamie Lee was in sparkling form for the winners with six points.
In Rathkeale Ballysteen kept their hopes alive with a 3-14 to 0-6 win over Adare. The winners had just a lead of 0-6 to 0-1 at half-time. But they dominated the second period with goals from Mike Neville, Declan Nash and Shane Hallinan.