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Super Sunday: Thurles Town, St Michael's and Clonmel Town gear up for league title showdown

Brian McDonnell

Reporter:

Brian McDonnell

Email:

bmcdonnell@tipperarystar.ie

Super Sunday: Thurles Town, St Michael's and Clonmel Town gear up for league title showdown

Tipperary South & District League Premier Division defending champions St Michael's.

There is a titanic weekend in store on the domestic junior soccer front as St Michael's and Clonmel Town prepare to face one another in a potential league title decider on Sunday morning in the Tipperary South & District League. Meanwhile Thurles Town's first-ever league title is within touching distance - Noel Byrne's side travel to Roscrea on Sunday knowing that three points will crown Town as North Tipperary & District League champions. And, don't forget that Nenagh AFC host Fairview Rangers in a Munster Junior Cup quarter-final on Sunday while The Blues are also flying high in the Premier Division of the Limerick District League.

NORTH TIPPERARY & DISTRICT LEAGUE

Thurles Town are closing in fast on winning the club's first-ever league title - the team managed by Noel Byrne travel to take on Roscrea United on Sunday, March 5th (11.30am) knowing that three points will bring the North Tipperary & District League Premier Division title back to the Greyhound Stadium for an historic first time.

Thurles Town lost away to the famed Crumlin United in a recent FAI Junior Cup sixth round clash
and also just missed out on a place in the last eight of the Munster Junior Cup following a defeat suffered at the hands of Pike Rovers (Limerick), but Noel Byrne's side has been in startling form on the domestic front this season. Indeed, Thurles Town have won all of their league games thus far and will win the Premier Division title on Sunday with three rounds to spare should they beat Roscrea United. That is some transformation considering the fact that Thurles Town found themselves bottom of the division less than two seasons ago.

Last weekend Thurles Town beat Nenagh Celtic, the defending league champions, 4-2 to set up Sunday's potential league title-winning clash with Roscrea. Right now Thurles Town lead the division by a single point from Blackcastle Templemore Harps and are two clear of defending champions Nenagh Celtic. BT Harps and Nenagh Celtic have one game remaining to play while Thurles Town have four. Therefore one win will seal the league title for Town and the side managed by Noel Byrne are presented with an opportunity to collect that win away to Roscrea United on Sunday - Roscrea, for their part, are fifth in the league table and will bring their programme of games to a conclusion on Sunday.

A series of high-profile signings has transformed Thurles Town this season. And, Noel Byrne is directly responsible for attracting players of real quality to the club. Town now feature exceptional players in former League of Ireland ‘keeper Graeme Loughman, Barry Ryan, Robbie Ryan, Michael Comerford, Eoghan Vaughan, Aaron Ryan, Ted O’Connor and Paul Kirwan.

The Thurles Town squad which will be hoping to land a first-ever league title this weekend.

TIPPERARY SOUTH & DISTRICT LEAGUE

Another huge game takes place in the Tipperary South & District League this weekend when St Michael's host Clonmel Town at 11.30am in an absolutely vital Clonmel Credit Union Premier League clash at Cooke Park in Tipperary Town.

Clonmel Town lead the Premier Division on 36 points with a game to play and are trailed in second place by Clonmel Celtic (31 points) who have two games remaining in their league programme.

Meanwhile defending champions St Michael's are very much within striking distance. The Saints are seven points off the lead (29 points), but have four games in hand on Clonmel Town, three in hand on Clonmel Celtic and five to play in all. Indeed, St Michael's are undefeated in the league this season.

Clonmel Town beat Peake Villa 3-2 last weekend and need another win against the Saints if they are to retain realistic hopes of winning the league title for the first time since 2011 while St Michael's are chasing their fourth league title in six years.

Since 1978 Clonmel Town have collected the Liam Delahunty Perpetual Trophy sixteen times (1984, 1985, 1986, 1990, 1992, 1994, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 & 2011) while St Michael's have been crowned Premier League champions twelve times (1987, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2003, 2012, 2014 & 2016).

Next up on the roll of honour come Two-Mile-Borris with three titles (1980, 1982 & 1983) followed by Peake Villa on two (2001 & 2010). Clonmel Celtic have also won two titles (2013 & 2015) while Clonmel Hibernians (1978), Killusty FC (1979) and Old Bridge (1981) have won one.

The Tipperary South & District League Premier Division league leaders Clonmel Town.

LIMERICK DISTRICT LEAGUE

Nenagh AFC are in Munster Junior Cup quarter-final action on Sunday, March 5th when Town host Fairview Rangers (kick-off 2pm). Meanwhile Nenagh AFC are also flying high in the Limerick District League - Nenagh Town trail Janesboro by a single point with six games to play at the summit of the Premier Division.

Nenagh AFC have already taken six points off Regional United, six off Moyross United and four off Geraldines. Aisling Annacotty have represented a bogey team of sorts for the North Tipperary side (Nenagh lost twice to Aisling in the Premier Division this season).

Nenagh AFC’s remaining games during their Premier Division campaign are home against Ballynanty Rovers (lost 2-3 away to earlier this season), away to Kilmallock (beat 1-0 at home earlier this season), Pike Rovers at home (whom Nenagh beat 5-0 away), Carew Park at home (whom Nenagh beat 1-0 away), Janesboro away (whom Nenagh beat 2-1 at Brickfields) and away to Fairview Rangers (Rangers won 3-2 in Nenagh earlier this season).

In May 2015 Nenagh AFC collected a fifth successive North Tipperary & District League Premier Division title before completing the double when seeing off Nenagh Celtic in the Ricky Fogarty Cup final. That clash with the local rivals represented the final game played by Nenagh Town in the North Tipperary & District League.

Nenagh AFC are an ambitious club and made a controversial decision to apply for inclusion in the Limerick District League, a league Town officially joined in August 2015. Although the Limerick District League is regarded as one of the toughest in the country and despite being forced to start their A team in division 1A and a B team in division 2B Nenagh AFC finished the 2015-16 season as champions of both.

The club could have opted to consolidate their position in the Premier Division, but true to the character of the club Nenagh AFC pushed on and embraced the challenge posed.

For some years now Nenagh AFC have been committed to the development of underage talent. Indeed, in May 2014 Town became the first Tipperary side since St Michael’s in 1994 to win the FAI Youths Cup following a dramatic penalty shoot-out final against Evergreen FC (Kilkenny) while in May 2016 Nenagh AFC beat Wilton (Cork) 3-2 after extra-time to win an historic FAI Under-17 Cup. And, now Nenagh AFC have an accomplished senior side which those talented young players can aspire to. There really is no limit now to what this club can achieve.

The Nenagh AFC squad of players who are flying high in the Limerick District League.

Nenagh AFC squad: Aaron Savage, Robbie Ryan, Eoin Coffey, Jordan Lewis, Bryan McGee, Max Boghu, Cathal Coonan, Mark McKenna, Gary Kevin, Eoin Heavin, James McGrath (captain), Dylan Sheahan, Roy Creagh, Nathan Kelly, John Mitchell, Ben Banaghan, Alan Sheahan, Ryan Gilmartin, Thomas Sheppard, Danny Butler, Alex Gardos, Michael Hogan. Management team: Dearan O'Gorman, Shane O'Gorman, David Rooney and Martin Donnellan.