Ulster Senior Football Championship Semi-Final
Down v Monaghan, Saturday, 7.00, Armagh
A place in a fourth Ulster Senior Football Championship Final in five years is the prize on offer when Monaghan take on Down on Saturday evening at the Athletic Grounds in Armagh.
Monaghan have had wins over Fermanagh and Cavan en route to this encounter with Down, who ended a 25-year wait for a championship win over neighbours Armagh at the quarter-final stage. Monaghan were comprehensive winners over Down last summer, but Éamonn Burns and co. have managed to steady the ship this year, with a dramatic draw with Cork in the last round of the Allianz National Football League seeing them secure Division Two status. These counties clashed at this stage and this venue back in 2012, when Down came from nine points down to dump Monaghan out of the provincial series.
Malachy O’Rourke has named an unchanged starting 15 for this one, although newcomer Darren Freeman is an addition to a list of substitutes that also includes Darren Hughes. Monaghan will be looking for big performances from Drew and Ryan Wylie and Colin Walshe at the back and Jack McCarron and Conor McManus at the other end.
Down have been boosted by the news that Kevin McKernan and Niall Donnelly are expected to be fit after injury scares in the wake of the Armagh game, while Ryan and Jerome Johnston have also found full fitness coming into the summer. The Mourne men will also be looking for big performances from strong running wing-backs Caolán Mooney and Darragh O’Hanlon
Advance purchase of tickets for this match can be made online at monaghangaa.tickets.ie, or in Centra and SuperValu stores.
Monaghan: Rory Beggan; Fintan Kelly, Drew Wylie, Ryan Wylie; Colin Walshe (Capt.), Vincent Corey, Neil McAdam; Kieran Hughes, Karl O’Connell; Gavin Doogan, Kieran Duffy, Owen Duffy; Dermot Malone, Jack McCarron, Conor McManus.
Subs: Conor Forde, Dessie Mone, James Mealiff, Brian Greenan, Dessie Ward, Ryan McAnespie, Darren Hughes, Thomas Kerr, Shane Carey, Conor McCarthy, Darren Freeman.
Platinum Tanks Reserve Football Championship O’Duffy Cup Final
Scotstown v Truagh, Sunday, 5.00, Emyvale
Truagh bid to defend the O’Duffy Cup when they face neighbours Scotstown in the final at Emyvale on Sunday.
After winning this title for the first time last year, Truagh were later denied a double when they lost the RFL Division 1A Final against Sunday’s opponents, who also defeated them in the 2015 league decider. These teams, who played out a draw back in April, are the top two in the league again this year, with Scotstown two points clear. Truagh saw off Monaghan Harps and Magheracloone on their way to the final, while Scotstown have knocked out Donaghmoyne and Latton.
Orin Heaphey, Francis Maguire, Brian McGinnity, Pádraig Keenan and Micheál McCarville could play key roles for Scotstown, with Colm McRory, Niall Rooney, Daniel Finnegan and young players like Ryan and Aaron Mohan key to Truagh’s chances.
The Silver Hill Farm Senior Hurling Championship gets underway with the first round of group games on Thursday. Inniskeen start their defence of the title with a local derby in Carrickmacross, while league leaders Castleblayney travel to Monaghan Harps and Clontibret face Truagh.
The bottom two clash in the Monaghan Electrical Intermediate Football League on Tuesday, when Toome travel to Emyvale.
Just three days after contesting the O’Duffy Cup Final, Scotstown and Truagh meet in the Platinum Tanks Reserve Football League Division 1A on Wednesday, when the other fixtures are Clontibret v Latton and Donaghmoyne v Monaghan Harps. Castleblayney and Aughnamullen, who currently share second place in Division 1B, clash on Monday, with leaders Magheracloone hosting Cremartin on Wednesday.
Crawley Cup winners Seán McDermotts have two RFL Division 2A games this weekend: away to Doohamlet on Sunday and at home to Killanny on Wednesday, when the other game is a local derby between Drumhowan and Ballybay. Monaghan Harps and Clones meet in Division 2B on Sunday, while Carrickmacross can go top if they win in Rockcorry on Wednesday. Inniskeen host Oram in Division Three on Friday, while McKeown Cup finalists Clontibret and Corduff are at home to Killeevan and Truagh, respectively, on Sunday.
The Connolly Meats Minor Football League Division Three resumes after the exam break with a rescheduled game between amalgamated sides St. Mary’s Na Mullaí and Patrick Emmets, who currently share second place, on Tuesday.
Féile means there is a limited programme of Gerry’s Prepared Veg. juvenile football games over the weekend, but the Under-16 Football Leagues resume after the exam break on Thursday. The Silver Hill Farm U-16 and U-12 Hurling Leagues continue on Monday.
A festival of football comes to Monaghan and neighbouring counties Cavan and Fermanagh when they host the John West Féile Peil na nÓg this weekend.
The U-14 Gaelic football tournament is one of the biggest sports festivals in Europe, with over 6,000 players set to take part and around 1,000 mentors patrolling the sidelines. Thousands more supporters will be attending, giving the region a healthy economic boost.
There will be 160 boys’ teams and 96 girls’ teams taking part from tomorrow (Friday) through to Sunday, with County Monaghan hosting 36 teams (24 boys’ and 12 girls’). Each team will play at least four games.
Monaghan clubs are rolling out the welcome mat to teams from 19 counties representing all four provinces and even others travelling from further afield such as North London, Boston, San Francisco and New York. Many of the clubs will avail of the opportunity to attend Saturday’s Ulster SFC semi-final between Monaghan and Down, with free passes on offer for teams competing in Féile.
All Monaghan clubs involved will host at least one game over a packed weekend of football, with Clones, Castleblayney and Inniskeen set to be among the venues to host divisional finals on Sunday.