IT COULD prove a decisive week in the Munster Junior League as two of the top three contenders clash in what is arguably the game of the season so far.
Tralee and Cashel know nothing less than a victory will do when they come face to face on Sunday as they battle with Richmond for the League title. Despite having lost many of their star players, Cashel have still proved a major force and will be eager to make an historic three in a row.
They have continued to play a brand of high octane rugby with the addition of Maximilliano Nannini augmenting the talents of the likes of the O’Connors.
Tralee were one of the surprise packages last season and while they also lost a star name in Cyprian Jouve, the Kerry club have also gone from strength to strength with plenty of local talent. They have produced some scintillating rugby this year but will be happy to scrape out for a narrow victory this weekend. Home advantage could prove vital for the Kerry club and there is likely to be a large vocal support for both sides.
Richmond currently top the table on the head-to-head rule with Tralee and are three points clear of the Tipperary club. They may prefer a victory for Cashel but first and foremost will want to take care of business on their own turf as they host St Senan’s.
The addition of Brian Begley has seriously bolstered an already talented team for the Limerick side this season with Finbar Hogan and Declan Browne among the other key men for the Limerick men. The Clare team will prove a tough nut to crack, but the hosts should have enough talent and experience to maintain their place at the top going into the final week.
Things are every bit as tight at the bottom as teams fight against the drop. Senan’s could be gone if they don’t pick up points against Richmond. Kilfeacle, Thurles and Crosshaven are the three other teams threatened with relegation, although others can’t be totally discounted yet.
After a difficult start to the season, Crosshaven appear to be hitting form at the right time and with a home game against Waterpark they will be confident of getting a much-needed win.
Kilfeacle face a difficult trip to Cobh Pirates who will be boosted by last weekend’s success over Clonmel, and the Cork side will hope to finish their campaign on a high. Despite enjoying home advantage, Thurles will require to be on top form as Skibbereen travel up with the west Cork side looking to come out on top.
Clonmel and Ballincollig could each make certain of their safety with some points in their clash, though if other results go their way they could both end up being safe.
In Division Three, it looks like three teams are battling for two promotion spots although Kanturk and Newcastle West are not totally out of the race with a game in hand. Top of the table Clanwilliam face a test of their credentials as they travel to a young Bandon team.
Old Christians will hope to end Newcastle West’s chances with a home victory while Galbally, buoyed by a great success over Kilfeacle recently face a difficult trip to Muskerry.
Kanturk travel to a Newport side who know that a win should be good enough to secure Division Two rugby for them for another season. There is also a massive match at the wrong end of the table as two of the sides embroiled in the relegation battle meet when Ennis enjoy home advantage over Youghal. St Mary’s will also be desperate for a win but won’t get anything easy as they entertain Kinsale.
In Section A of Division Three, Killarney seek to upset local rivals and runaway leaders Castleisland. Presentation and Corca Dhuibhne will hope for Castleisland to maintain their imperious form to give them a chance of catching Killarney. Both require victories themselves with both sides enjoying home advantage as Presentation host Kilrush and Corca Dhuibhne take on Scariff. The other game in this section will see Abbeyfeale travelling to Killorglin.
Things remain extremely tight in Section B with all games set to affect the promotion race. Joint leaders Charleville will expect to maintain their place at the top but an improving Dungarvan side will not be an easy pushover.
Mallow, who share top spot, will also expect a win at Whitechurch so the loser of the Fermoy and Carrick-on-Suir match is set to have a major dent in their ambitions. Waterford City will also require a victory at Douglas to keep their own hopes alive.
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