Previews (July 27-29)
It’s a fairly quiet week on the fixtures front, particularly at the weekend, when the break starts up, but there are still two finals to be played before then, as well as the Senior Hurling Championship semi-finals.
Platinum Tanks Reserve Football Championship O’Duffy Cup
Castleblayney v Truagh, Wednesday, 7.30, Emyvale
Castleblayney will attempt to retain the O’Duffy Cup on Wednesday, when they take on Truagh, who are bidding to win the Reserve Championship for the first time.
Both sides eased through the first round – Blayney against Inniskeen and Truagh against neighbours Scotstown – before battling through the quarter-finals and semi-finals. Blayney saw off Clontibret and Latton, while Truagh got the better of Cremartin and Magheracloone (the latter by a single point after extra-time).
The teams are separated by just two points in the RFL Division One. Blayney are third with 14 points from ten games, one place ahead of Truagh, who have recovered from a slow start to win four and draw three of their last seven games. Along with their three championship wins, Truagh are now unbeaten in ten, but they will need to be at the top of their game to continue that run.
Blayney have current and former senior players like Ryan Treacy, Brendan McElroy, Ray McArdle, Peter and Mark Treanor and goal-poacher Jerry Brady in their reserve team, while Truagh have a good mix of experience in the likes of Gary Meehan and Paul Donaghue alongside younger players like Pádraig, Seán and Christopher McKenna.
Silver Hill Foods Senior Hurling Championship Semi-Finals
Carrickmacross v Inniskeen, Thursday, 7.30, Aughnamullen
Castleblayney v Truagh, Thursday, 7.30, Monaghan
The SHC semi-finals take place on Thursday.
Defending champions Inniskeen, who won the title for the first time last year (ending Castleblayney’s bid for seven-in-a-row), play Carrickmacross. Inniskeen, who went on to win the Ulster JHC title to round off a dream year which also brought success in the Senior and Reserve Hurling Leagues and the Kilmacud All-Ireland Sevens, started this year slowly, but have found form in recent weeks to move up to second place in the SHL table with 11 points from seven games. Carrick beat Clontibret after a replay in the first round of the championship, but that is one of just two senior games they have won this year, with their only league victory also coming at the expense of Clontibret. Inniskeen won the league game between these teams and they were comprehensive winners when they met at this stage.
Trevor Hilliard, Séamus Loftus, Michael Lennon, Ronan and Paul Meegan and Martin Murphy are likely to play central roles for Inniskeen, while Carrick will need big performances from Éanna Mac Suibhne, Jason O’Rourke (whose frees accounted for all but three points of their total last time out), Paul Shannon and Jamie Guinan.
Castleblayney will be looking to book their place in the county hurling final for the 13th year in a row when they take on Truagh, who have yet to appear in the SHC decider.
Blayney missed out on a seventh title in a row last year when they lost the final to Inniskeen, but they look hungry to win it back and make it 11 in 13 years as they are unbeaten in Monaghan so far this year. Having won all four games in the Ulster Club SHL Division 4A, Blayney have won six and drawn one in the Monaghan SHL, as well as competing in Division Two of the Armagh league. Truagh, who won their first senior hurling silverware last year via the shield, are third in the SHL with eight points from seven games and they also won four out of five in the RHL, only to lose the big one to Monaghan Harps in the final. They have a win under their belts in the SHC after they beat the Harps by five points in the first round, but Blayney have won both league games between the teams this year and will be strongly fancied to at least reach another county final.
Blayney have a very strong county contingent, including Mickey and Jim McHugh, Stephen and Alan Lambe, Paul Murphy and Gary Boyd. Truagh are very reliant on free-taker Pat O’Connell (who hit 1-10 against the Harps) for scores, but John McAnespie, Conor McGinnity, Ryan McKenna and Aidan Coyle are also key players.
Silver Hill Foods Senior Hurling Shield Final
Clontibret v Monaghan Harps, Friday, 7.30, Clontibret
The shield final sees Clontibret and Monaghan Harps go head-to-head on Friday.
Clontibret, who lost to Truagh in the shield final last year, were knocked out of the championship by Carrickmacross after a replay, while the Harps fell to Truagh. The Harps beat Clontibret narrowly in the league and they are four points ahead of their near-neighbours in the table. The Harps go into this game on the back of a boost last week, when they won the reserve league with a four-point win over Truagh.
The Harps will be looking for big performances from the likes of Raymond and Alan Lee, Alan Ryan, Shane Smyth, Aidan Óg McAnespie and Aidan Connell, while Clontibret will need Brian and Fergal Greenan, Cormac Connolly, Seán Leonard and Arthur Morgan on top form.
The game will be played in Clontibret, who won the draw for home venue.
Tyholland host Aughnamullen in the Monaghan Electrical Intermediate Football League on Wednesday, while three of the top four are in action in the Gerry’s Takeaway Junior Football League, where leaders Cremartin host Toome and Emyvale travel to Blackhill. There are also games in Divisions One and Two of the Platinum Tanks Reserve Football League on Wednesday.