Previews (July 14-19)
The championships continue this weekend, with three games in the McGuigan Builders Intermediate Football Championship and two in the Universal Graphics Junior Football Championship. There is also a full round of games in the Drumlin Group of Credit Unions Senior Football League on Sunday.
Universal Graphics Junior Football Championship
Aghabog v Toome, Friday, 7.30, Monaghan
Blackhill v Clones, Friday, 7.30, Tyholland
The last two places in the Junior Football Championship semi-finals are up for grabs on Friday evening. Aghabog and Toome face off at Gavan Duffy Park with a chance to join Cremartin and Emyvale in the last four.
Aghabog have played four games in this year’s championship – more than any other team – as they needed a replay to edge past Oram in the preliminary round before losing by the same margin against Clones and getting back on track by beating Killanny. Toome defeated Killanny in the first round, but they came out the wrong side of an entertaining game against Emyvale last time out. On league form, Toome are the team to beat here, as they have lost just once in their seven games, which leaves them fourth in the table and with games in hand of the teams above them. Aghabog are in mid-table with eight points from ten games, although they have found some form in recent weeks by winning their last three games in league and championship. Toome had a comprehensive win when the sides last met in the JFL, but this is likely to be much closer.
Seán O’Brien has been in superb form for Aghabog (his 2-21 making him the runaway top scorer in the championship to date), while Gary McBride, Francie Dolan and
Toome have plenty of scoring power in the likes of Gavin Flanagan and Gary Wilson, while Stephen Lambe is a strong player in midfield and Francis Quinn is the main man in defence.
Meanwhile in Tyholland, Clones will be looking to book their place in another JFC semi-final when they take on Blackhill, who will be targeting a rare appearance in the latter stages of the competition. Clones have reached the last four in the last three years but have fallen short of taking the title.
Clones won their first two games against Killeevan and Clones by the narrowest of margins, but they lost to Cremartin in their last championship game. Blackhill started with a defeat to Emyvale, but have come back with wins over Oram and Fergal O’Hanlons. Clones have had mixed fortunes in the JFL, taking nine points from as many games, but Blackhill are struggling as they lie bottom of the table with just two wins to their name.
With Darren Freeman, Colm Connolly and Declan McKernan gone from last year’s forward line, Clones are very reliant on Adrian Alford and David Freeman for scores, while Danny Rooney is the leader at the back. Blackhill have some lively forwards in Colin Woods, Philip Donnelly and Pauric Murphy, as well as good defenders in Ryan and Donal Courtney, who represented the county this year at Under-21 and minor level respectively.
McGuigan Builders Intermediate Football Championship
Seán McDermotts v Tyholland, Saturday, 6.00, Ballybay
* The IFC game between Aughnamullen and Currin on Saturday has been postponed due to a bereavement
There is a double-header in the IFC in Ballybay on Saturday evening, with the first game seeing Seán McDermotts and Tyholland putting their championship hopes on the line.
The Seáns gave championship favourites Carrickmacross a scare in the first round, eventually losing by just a point, while Tyholland lost by the same margin against Donaghmoyne. Tyholland lost the IFC final to Doohamlet last year, while the Seáns won the JFL to make up for a disappointing JFC campaign. The sides are separated by just a point in the IFL table, where the Seáns have ten points and Tyholland have nine. The Threemilehouse men had a surprisingly easy win in their most recent league clash.
With Gary McQuaid expected to be out for the year with a knee injury, Tyholland will need big performances from Raymond and Gregory Ronaghan, Ronan McNally, Peadar Farrelly and Karl O’Connell. The Seáns will hope to have key players Damien Larkin and Paddy Kieran fully fit after they were unable to start the Carrick game, while they welcome county goalkeeper Mark Keogh, who can also play outfield, back after suspension.
McGuigan Builders Intermediate Football Championship
Drumhowan v Rockcorry, Sunday, 7.30, Aughnamullen
Drumhowan and Rockcorry will both have a point to prove after poor performances in first-round defeats.
Drumhowan, who were relegated from senior last year, were very disappointing in losing to neighbours Aughnamullen and Kieran McElroy is suspended after being sent off in the closing stages of that game while Colm Lambe is also out after getting a red card last week against Seán McDermotts. Rockcorry, who lost to Tyholland in last year’s semi-finals, were beaten by Currin in their preliminary-round game. Drumhowan have had a poor year so far and they are currently on a run of six games without a win, leaving them second-from-bottom in the league, although one of their two wins came against Rock, who are part of a congested mid-table on ten points.
The retirement of James McElroy has robbed Drumhowan of a lot of experience and physical presence and they have also had their injury troubles this year, but they still have quality players in the likes of Darren Duffy, David Millar, Dermot McDermott and Kevin and Kieran Mooney. Rock have also been missing important players like Paul McKeown and Damien Matthews through injury, but both should be able to lead the way on Sunday, along with Mark and Keith Daly, Niall McKeown and Stephen and Mark McGuirk.
Thursday evening is round seven of the Silver Hill Foods Senior Hurling League, where Castleblayney defend their unbeaten record when they play Monaghan Harps. Carrickmacross will attempt to build on their championship win over Clontibret when they host Truagh, while the other game sees Clontibret go to Inniskeen.
This Sunday is the last round of games in the Senior Football League before the championship. League leaders Ballybay are at home to Scotstown, while Latton will be aiming to stretch their unbeaten run to ten games when they host Monaghan Harps. Clontibret are away to Magheracloone in a repeat of last year’s county final, while strugglers Doohamlet and Inniskeen have home games against Castleblayney and Truagh respectively.
The McQuillan Staircases Under-21 Football Leagues reach a key stage on Monday, while Tuesday sees the start of the Maguire Transport Minor Football Championships. Clontibret start their defence of the Division One title with a home game against St. Patrick’s, while Monaghan Harps take on Castleblayney, Carrickmacross face Truagh and Scotstown make the short trip to Emyvale. In Division Two, Seán McDermotts have home advantage against Rock Sarsfields and Na Fianna (Éire Óg and Tyholland) are up against Latton. Corduff and Cremartin go head-to-head in Division Three, as Clones play Donaghmoyne and Aughnamullen entertain Inniskeen.