The top two in the Munster Junior League will be aiming to pull away from the pack this weekend but both face potential banana skins.
Newcastle West have been in free-scoring form of late and currently top the first division — those try bonus points have allowed them establish a two-point gap over Clonmel, with both sides winning their four matches to date. The Limerick side take on one of their major rivals in recent years as they host St Mary’s.
As of yet, Mary’s have been unable to reach the heights of last season. Last week’s gritty win will have boosted their confidence and the pressure will be off this weekend. They still possess plenty of quality but will need a powerful display up front and hope the likes of Matthew Hickey can cause problems around the fringes. While Newcastle West should be in for a tougher day than recently they should still possess enough quality to win out.
Clonmel battled hard to overcome the challenge of a strong Muskerry outfit and now face a tough trip to Galbally. Although they have only won once to date, Galbally are always a tough proposition on their home turf. Clonmel will need to be fully focused but will be expecting to keep the pressure on their title rivals.
Despite defeat, Muskerry put in a strong showing at Clonmel. They will be expecting to get back to winning ways as they host Kinsale in a local derby. With last Sunday’s game postponed, Kinsale are still pointless and will need to significantly improve on their defence if they are to get anything out of the game.
Clonakilty were scheduled to face Kinsale last Sunday, but the death of club stalwart Noel O’Sullivan led to the postponement. They are back in action with a tough home game against Kilfeacle who will want to bounce back from a defeat to Old Christians.
That victory put the Rathcooney side in fourth place and they will want to maintain their good run of form with Sean Meany among their key players. They travel to St Senan’s whose strong home form could prove pivotal to their success this season.
There is one game on Saturday, between two sides towards the bottom of the table as Tralee travel east to take on Waterpark. They Kerry side have shown signs of improvement while Waterpark have had plenty of positives from their three games. If Waterpark can replicate some of their League performance they may have enough to win out. The big game in Division Two is a Tipperary derby as Thurles host Clanwilliam. The home team will be seeking to bounce back from their loss at Castleisland. The Tipperary Town outfit have a 100% record so far and are a dogged outfit. It should be a bruising encounter with the battle of the kickers likely to be crucial.
Second-placed Castleisland have had some excellent wins and should close the gap on Bandon with their away trip to nearby Abbeyfeale. Mallow have gone on an excellent run since their opening day defeat and should maintain the form with a win at home to Presentation.
Ennis should be too strong for Killarney while Waterford City should follow up an excellent win in Kerry with a home win over Newport. Youghal and Ballincollig will both want to pull away from the bottom end of the table as they take each other on in East Cork.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved