THE QUEST for silverware has begun for all of Kilkenny’s soccer clubs after the Kilkenny & District League announced the draws for their Shield competitions.
Teams from the junior, women’s and youths ranks will be gearing up for games in the Maher, Women’s and Henderson Shields.
At junior level Freebooters A have been given an easy start to their Maher Shield title defence - they have been given a bye in the first round of the tournament. Last year’s beaten finalists, the Lions, will begin their campaign with an away trip to East End United, a match which may see the teams use a number of their Premier Division players. Another potentially all top flight clash sees Deen Celtic host Fort Rangers.
Newcomers St Anne’s will face a baptism of fire on their return to the Kilkenny & District League after the Gortnahoe side drew Evergreen A at home in the competition. Gowran FC, who are also back in the local leagues, will have an equally tough task to get past Freebooters B at the Fair Green, while St John’s travel to Graignamanagh to tackle Highview Athletic.
The last of the new teams in the league, Orchard Rovers, have also received a bye into the second round.
Pat Maher Memorial Shield, first round: Callan United v Stoneyford United, St Anne’s v Evergreen A, Tullaroan v Freshford Town, Urlingford FC v Evergreen B, Deen Celtic v Fort Rangers, Thomastown United v River Rangers, Freebooters B v Gowran FC, Newpark United v Brookville, Clover United v Spa United, East End United v Lions, Highview Athletic v St John’s.
Byes: AC Kilkenny, Freebooters A, Orchard Rovers, Clifden United, Bridge United.
In the Women’s Shield holders Tullaroan will start the defence of their crown against Evergreen. The Shield success was part of a double for Tullaroan, who beat Thomastown United to the spoils last year. United, who gained compensation by capturing the Cup, will look to get back to the Shield final - but first they must get past Freshford Town. With just eight women’s teams in the competition, the League also made the draw for the Shield semi-finals. The Women’s Shield features newcomers Urlingford, who have entered a team in the Women’s league for the first time this season.
Women’s Shield, quarter-finals: Bridge United v Urlingford FC, East End United v Clover United, Tullaroan v Evergreen, Freshford Town v Thomastown United.
Semi-finals: Freshford or Thomastown v Tullaroan or Evergreen, Bridge or Urlingford v East End or Clover.
The draw for the Henderson Youths’ Shield will see Evergreen A lay their title on the line with a first round meeting against Thomastown United.
The city side swept the boards last season, winning the Youths’ League, Cup and Shield, and will be gunning to do the same again this term.
Interestingly last season’s Division Two champions Freshford Town, who were runners-up in the Shield final, have not entered a team this season.
Henderson Youths’ Shield, preliminary round: Lions v Evergreen B.
Quarter-finals: Freebooters v River Rangers, Thomastown United v Evergreen A, Clover United v Newpark Ormonde Villa, Lions or Evergreen B v Highview Athletic.