A gritty Nenagh AFC beat the Premier League leaders 2-0 at Pearse Stadium, Janesboro on Thursday evening to ensure that the Limerick District League title race goes to the final day - prior to this contest the Blues trailed Janesboro by four points, but this win closes the gap to one with a single round to play.
Right now Janesboro top the league on 47 points (+30 goal difference) and Pike Rovers are within striking distance in third place (44 points, +31) while Nenagh AFC are second on 46 points (+24). Therefore Nenagh AFC must win at home to defending champions Carew Park on Sunday in Nenagh (kick-off 11am) and hope that Janesboro drop points at home to Aisling Annacotty, a team who, ironically enough, beat the Blues twice in the league this season.
Janesboro will be hot favourites to seal the league title on Sunday, but irrespective of that fact Nenagh AFC have plenty to celebrate - the Blues have been excellent this season.
On Thursday evening, for instance, Nenagh AFC played terrifically well away to the champions elect. In the most trying of circumstances Nenagh AFC played football, took the game to Janesboro and took the lead thanks to a right-footed Barry Coffey finish before Nathan Kelly lashed the killer goal into the roof of the net.
That result ensured that Nenagh AFC completed the league double over Janesboro on Thursday (Nenagh beat Janesboro 2-1 at Brickfields in November).
It is ironic that Nenagh AFC’s two-one win over Janesboro propelled the Tipperary side to the summit of a division which features acclaimed clubs like Pike Rovers, Fairview Rangers, Ballynanty Rovers and Geraldines.
In 2012 Nenagh AFC became the first North Tipperary & District League side to qualify for the Munster Junior Cup final (a competition inaugurated in 1922), but found themselves beaten by Janesboro at Cooke Park, Tipperary Town. Such experiences forced Nenagh AFC to consider broader horizons as the club suffered from a lack of competition domestically.
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.
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 and Barry Coffey.
Nenagh AFC Management Team: Dearan O'Gorman, Shane O'Gorman, David Rooney and Martin Donnellan.
The Nenagh AFC squad of players who are flying high in the Limerick District League.