Ulster Inter-County Vocational Schools Football Championship Semi-Final
Monaghan v Tyrone, Friday, 12.00, Donagh
Monaghan start their bid for a fourth successive Ulster vocational schools football championship with a semi-final against Tyrone in Donagh, Co Fermanagh on Friday in a game that was postponed last Friday due to a frozen pitch (the story of the winter so far!).
Monaghan have lost most of their team from last year, although Shane McGuinness, Thomas Kerr and Cillian Coleman return. Monaghan have won the last three provincial titles – beating Donegal in the final each time – and they have reached the All-Ireland decider in each of those years, winning in 2009 either side of two defeats against Cork. Donegal once again await the winners in the Ulster final after they eased past Derry in the first semi-final last week.
Under-21 Shamrock Cup
Monaghan v Down, Sunday, 12.00, Cloghan
The Under-21 Shamrock Cup, which is run by Cremartin, begins this weekend, with defending champions Monaghan taking on Down on Sunday in a repeat of last year’s final. The opening game sees Tyrone host Fermanagh in Pomeroy on Saturday.
Monaghan, who are being managed by senior manager Eamon McEneaney, should be able to call on a number of the minor team that reached the Ulster MFC Final in 2008, such as Colin Walshe, Dermot Malone, Kieran Duffy, Christopher McGuinness and Sam and Pete Dooney, although Kieran Hughes is expected to be on the sidelines for a lengthy spell as he recovers from injury.
AIB All-Ireland Club Junior Hurling Championship Semi-Final
Inniskeen v John Lockes (Kilkenny), Sunday, 2.30, St. Loman’s, Mullingar
After a record-breaking year in 2010, Inniskeen’s hurlers begin 2011 with an All-Ireland Club JHC semi-final against the might of John Lockes from Callan in Kilkenny.
Inniskeen won the Monaghan Senior Hurling Championship for the first time last year, beating six-in-a-row winners Castleblayney in the final, before going on to lift the Ulster JHC title, defeating Lisnaskea (Fermanagh), Craobh Rua Camlough (Armagh) and Cloughmills (Antrim). The Grattans also won the Senior and Reserve Hurling Leagues in Monaghan.
John Locke’s won the Kilkenny Junior Hurling Championship, beating Barrow Rangers after a replay in the county final. The Callan side marched on to become the fifth Kilkenny club in a row to win the Leinster JHC (and the eighth in nine years), with wins against Ballyfin of Laois, Adamstown from Wexford and a comprehensive victory over Offaly’s Drumcullen in the rescheduled decider, which was played just two weeks ago, possibly giving John Lockes an advantage in match fitness and sharpness.
Inniskeen are backboned by county hurlers Séamus Loftus, Trevor Hilliard, Ronan Meegan, Michael Lennon, Pauric Dowdall, Kevin Boylan and Gerard Ruddy, while Martin Murphy, Paul Meegan and Gavin Dooley will also be expected to play central roles. John Lockes will be looking for big performances from free-taker Owen McGrath, Simon Burke, Mick Gordon, James Power, Robert Jackman, Jack Corcoran and Shane Bergin.
The game is being played in the St. Loman’s club grounds in Mullingar on Sunday, with a place in the final at Croke Park up for grabs.