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*Photograph: John Mangan
It’s been over a year since there was any junior soccer action in Clare so, understandably, supporters of the game in the county are delighted that competitive action returns this weekend.
At adult level the competition will see the opening round of games in the league cup for the Premier, First, Second and Third division teams while the opening round of games in the A and B Youths league will also take place.
“After such a long break, it’s great to be back and all are looking forward to the games this week”, Clare league chairman Jason Ryan said this week.
Over the next four weeks the League Cup competition will dominate in all divisions before the various leagues get under way in mid August with the league cup finals scheduled for the October Bank holiday weekend.
“It’s a long time since we had any football. Clubs have had a very difficult time. There was nothing happening and no training allowed until about a month ago. Players, while delighted to be getting back will be a little wary given all the variants of COVID which are still there. Clubs have been provided with specifics of what is and isn’t allowed. Dressing rooms are not available which is the case with other field sports at this time,” CDSL PRO Jim Madden outlined.
“The youths and under 19 leagues are going to be run on alternate weekends which will give all of these players an opportunity to get back on the playing fields. Boys and girls have had the trauma of Leaving certificate exams so sport will be a good outlet for them now,” explained the Shannon based league official.
Madden added, “The main focus of the players should be on having a bit of fun, re-acquainting themselves with their team mates and complying with the guidelines, details of which have been sent to the clubs by league secretary Denis Collins”.
A few clubs including Mountshannon Celtic, Kilrush Rangers, Rineanna Rovers and Kildysart have opted not to take part in the League Cups but they will be returning next month for the leagues.
The first competitive game of the new season will take place on this Friday evening when Burren United and Fern Celtic clash in the B division of the youths league. The remaining first round games in this competition will take place on Saturday. In group A, Avenue United, Lifford and Newmarket Celtic will have home advantage against Bridge United, Bridge Celtic and Moher respectively while in group B Mountshannon Celtic will entertain Tulla United while St. Pats will have home advantage against Shannon Town B.
Newmarket Celtic A, Avenue United and Shannon Town A are expected to again challenge strongly for honours. Newmarket A will entertain Shannon Olympic while Avenue and Shannon Town will travel to play Shannon Hibs and Bridge United A.
In the First Division Shannon Town B, Tulla United, Coole FC and Avenue United B will all have home advantage against Hermitage, Newmarket Celtic B, Turnpike Rovers and Bridge Uniteed B.
In the Second Division Cloughleigh Celtic will entertain Rhine Rovers, Manus Celtic will entertain Inch Crusaders, Connolly Celtic will have home advantage against Corofin and Shannon Hibe will take on Kilkishen Celtic.
There are three games listed for decision in the Third Division where Bunratty/Cratloe entertain Shannon Towwn C, St. Pats entertain Ennis Dons and Fern Cetic welcome Manus B.
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