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Previews (August 12-15)

August 11th, 2011

A very busy weekend is in prospect, dominated by no less than eight championship matches. Both semi-finals in the Universal Graphics Junior Football Championship are to be played over the weekend, while there are also three games each in the Gormley uPVC Senior Football Championship and the McGuigan Builders Intermediate Football Championship.

 Mc Guigan Builders Websize

Friday’s McGuigan Builders Intermediate Football Championship game between Aughnamullen and Carrickmacross has been postponed due to a bereavement in the Carrickmacross club. 

McGuigan Builders Intermediate Football Championship

Currin v Tyholland, Saturday, 5.45, Scotstown

Last year’s IFC runners-up Tyholland need to beat Currin on Saturday to retain any chance of reaching the business end of the competition again this year.

Tyholland slipped to a one-point defeat to Donaghmoyne in the first round, before battling past Seán McDermotts in extra-time last time out. Currin, meanwhile, started off by beating Rockcorry, only to lose out to Aughnamullen for the second year in a row.

The teams are separated by just two points in the league table, as Currin are third with 15 points, one place of ahead of Tyholland, who have had a recent surge, winning three-in-a-row. Currin ground out a two-point win in Tyholland at the start of last month after almost letting a big lead slip.

Currin are still very dependent on county captain Dick Clerkin, but he now has more support from the likes of Jack McCarron, Stephen Smyth, Ciarán and Conor McCaffrey and Gerard and Philip O’Callaghan. Tyholland will once again be without long-term injury victim Gary McQuaid, as well as the suspended Karl O’Connell and Shane Treanor (in Boston), so big performances will be required from Paul Askin, Ronan McNally, Raymond and Gregory Ronaghan and Peadar Farrelly. The north-Monaghan men have been in real goal-scoring form of late, finding the net 12 times in their last four games, and they will be in with a good chance if they can keep that streak going.

Gormley LOGO

Gormley uPVC Senior Football Championship

Doohamlet v Magheracloone, Saturday, 7.15, Corduff

Last year’s beaten finalists Magheracloone will attempt to get their SFC campaign back on track in Sunday’s back-door game against Doohamlet.

Magheracloone managed just one point from play in a disappointing defeat to Truagh, while Doohamlet put up a good battle when losing to in-form Latton. Despite losing a number of players, Magheracloone have had a good SFL campaign to date, as they are tied for second place on 20 points. The league table shows Magheracloone well ahead of Doohamlet (who are second-from-bottom), but they had just three points to spare against their opponents in the league earlier this year, when they had all their star names available, so this is far from a foregone conclusion.

Magheracloone are without Tommy Freeman and Francie Doogan, who are both abroad, while Gavin Doogan is still out injured, but they still have quality in the likes of Damien Freeman, James and Pete Ward and Paudie Finnegan, who has returned from America. Doohamlet will need Colin Walshe, Ciarán and Shane McManus, Glen Cumiskey and Niall J Connolly on form if they are to rediscover the form that took them to the Ulster IFC Final last year.

 Universal Graphics Websize

Universal Graphics Junior Football Championship Semi-Final

Aghabog v Cremartin, Saturday, 7.30, Scotstown

Aghabog and Cremartin will bid to become the first team to qualify for this year’s Junior Football Championship Final when they go head-to-head in Scotstown on Saturday evening.

Having lost both championship and league finals last year, Cremartin are determined to put that right this year and they have led the JFL almost from the start, while wins over Fergal O’Hanlons and Cremartin saw them take the direct route through to another championship semi-final. It hasn’t been as straightforward for Aghabog, who are going into their sixth game of the championship. After needing a replay plus extra-time to get past Oram by the minimum in the preliminary round, Aghabog lost by the same margin to Clones in the first round, but they have come back with wins over Killanny and Toome. Cremartin had a five-point win in Aghabog in the league, but that will have little if any relevance on Saturday, as it was way back in March and the Emmets have improved considerably since then after a very slow start to the season.

Cremartin are strong all over the field, with Darren, Stephen and Mark Bishop providing options up front along with Kevin Brennan, while Barry Carragher, Gary Boyd and Christopher Farrell are the main men around the middle, as are Paddy and Johnny McGuigan and Declan Farrell in defence. Seán O’Brien has been in prolific form for Aghabog, with his 2-25 in five games making him the championship’s runaway leading scorer, while Gary McBride, Francis Dolan, Aidan Brady and Shane O’Brien have also played well, but they will need to step up their performance again to get past Cremartin.

Universal Graphics Junior Football Championship Semi-Final

Emyvale v Clones, Sunday, 2.00, Truagh

Emyvale and Clones clash in the rescheduled JFC semi-final at St. Mellan’s Park on Sunday. This game was due to have been played last Sunday, but was postponed as a mark of respect to the late Enda Watterson (RIP), a brother of Emyvale panellist Fergal.

2009 Monaghan and Ulster JFC winners Emyvale have taken the direct route to the semi-finals (like they did two years ago) with wins over Blackhill and Toome, but it hasn’t been nearly as straightforward for Clones, who beat both Killeevan and Aghabog by a point before losing to Cremartin but getting back on track with a comfortable win over Blackhill. Clones have been the nearly-men of junior football in recent years, regularly reaching the latter stages of both league and championship only to fall short – including in ’09, when a late goal saw Emyvale edge past them at this stage.

Emyvale are second in the JFL table with 13 points from nine games (two points and three places above Clones from one game less), but Clones are capable of beating anyone on their day, as they showed by winning away to league leaders Cremartin in their last game. They also took a point off Emyvale back in May.

Emyvale have plenty of physical strength down the middle in the likes of Brendan McKenna and James Bellew at midfield, Emmet Colleran at full-back and captain Martin McAree at full-forward, while top scorer Daniel McMahon and Seán McMeel are other key figures. Clones have been boosted by the return of Darren Freeman, whose presence adds greatly to their forward line along with David Freeman and Adrian Alford, who can also line out in the middle of the field, where regular full-back Danny Rooney has been operating in their last few games, while Paul Shiels has reverted to the heart of the defence.

McGuigan Builders Intermediate Football Championship

Corduff v Donaghmoyne, Sunday, 2.00, Aughnamullen


Corduff will hope that it’s ‘Lucky number 13’ when they attempt to stretch their unbeaten championship run to 13 games against Donaghmoyne in the IFC on Sunday afternoon.

Corduff went 11 games without defeat last year in winning the Monaghan and Ulster Junior Football Championships (although the provincial title was stripped from them after beaten finalists Swanlinbar appealed on the grounds that Corduff had fielded an underage player, Pádraic Keenan). Corduff have put that grievance behind them, however, to enjoy an impressive campaign to date, as they are second in the IFL and they had a very comfortable win over Éire Óg in the first round of the IFC. Donaghmoyne overturned last year’s defeat at the hands of Tyholland to book their place in this game, but their league form has been patchy, leaving them seventh with 11 points from 11 games. Corduff had a six-point win in the only league game between the teams so far this year.

Corduff have one of the best young forwards in the county in Keith McEnaney, who has had good support from Raymond Byrne, Martin Mills, Pádraic Keenan, Ciarán Brennan and Shane McNally Jnr. Emigration has robbed Donaghmoyne of Rory Woods, while John Farrell and Christopher Deery are also abroad for the summer, but Pauric Donaghy, Darren Coleman and Gary Woods have gone some way to picking up the scoring slack, while Mattie O’Reilly and Bernard Kelly should lead the back-line.

Gormley uPVC Senior Football Championship

Inniskeen v Monaghan Harps, Sunday, 5.45, Clontibret

Gormley uPVC Senior Football Championship First Round

Ballybay v Truagh, Sunday, 7.30, Clontibret

The weekend’s action concludes with a double-header of SFC games in Clontibret on Sunday evening.

In the first game, it’s last-chance time for Inniskeen and Monaghan Harps.

Inniskeen were well beaten by Clontibret in the first round, while the Harps were left to rue a very poor first-half performance in their defeat to Ballybay. Inniskeen have yet to take a point from their league campaign and they were unable to field against Scotstown last Sunday, but they will raise their game for Sunday’s match against a Harps team who are in mid-table in the league with 13 points after 14 games.

Paul and Ronan Meegan, Michael Lennon, Matthew McKenna and Stephen Callan are crucial to Inniskeen’s chances, while Neil McAdam, Conor Galligan, Donal Hahessy, Stephen Driver and David Hughes will be expected to lead the way for the Harps.

Following that is the last game of the first round between preliminary-round winners Ballybay and Truagh.

Both sides ran up big scores in their championship openers, as Ballybay hit 2-15 against Monaghan Harps, while Truagh managed 2-13 in easing past Magheracloone. Ballybay have been the form team in the county this year, as they have set the pace throughout the league and they are currently three points clear with 23 points from 14 games. Truagh have had a mixed league campaign, but they are safely enough in mid-table with 12 points.

Ballybay have taken three points off Truagh in the league, but they haven’t had it all their own way, as they were held to a draw in their first meeting, before battling to a two-point win last month. Both league games were entertaining and this one has the makings of a thriller.

Ballybay have a free-scoring forward line which features Paul Finlay, Christopher and Shane McGuinness, Thomas Kerr and Hugh Malone, while Drew Wylie, Paul Stuart and Brian McCabe also have key roles to play. Truagh have some tricky forwards of their own in Daniel and Christopher McKenna, Mark Counihan and Niall Coyle (who has transformed from a wing-back into a goal-scoring wing-forward), with Niall Feely, Rory Treanor and Keith Sheerin (if recovered from an injury picked up last week) other central figures.

McQuillan Staircases

McQuillan Staircases Under-21 Football League Division One Final

Aughnamullen v Scotstown, Monday, 7.30, Cremartin

Scotstown will be favourites to win the Under-21 FL Division One on Monday when they play Aughnamullen in the final.

Scotstown only had to play two games to finish top of the table with 10 points, as they beat Aughnamullen in the first round before hammering Donaghmoyne after getting walkovers from Truagh, Castleblayney and Monaghan Harps in the meantime. Aughnamullen bounced back from that opening defeat to Scotstown with wins against Castleblayney, Donaghmoyne and Monaghan Harps to finish second. Both teams are backboned by the minor sides that reached the championship final (won by Scotstown) two years ago.

This is Scotstown’s fifth Under-21 final in a row – so far they have won two (in 2007 and 2009) and lost two to Castleblayney in ’08 and Monaghan Harps last year, while it is new territory for Aughnamullen. Scotstown’s star man is undoubtedly Kieran Hughes, but they have other players with senior experience in Damien McArdle, Shane Carey, Stephen Sherry, Conor Caulfield, Adrian Carbin and James Hamill. Aughnamullen have coped well with the absence of Pete Dooney and they will get a huge boost from his return, while they will also need big performances from Sam Dooney, Seán Sheridan, Mark McArdle and Pauric Bannigan.

As well as all the championship action, there are also league games down for decision. On Thursday in the Silver Hill Foods Senior Hurling League, championship finalists Inniskeen and Castleblayney go head-to-head, while Clontibret and Monaghan Harps host Truagh and Inniskeen respectively. There are two games in the Drumlin Group of Credit Unions Senior Football League on Sunday, when Clontibret take on Scotstown and in-form Latton face Castleblayney. A quirk in the fixtures sees Toome and Killanny meet twice in the space of four days in the Gerry’s Takeaway Junior Football League; first on Sunday and then on Wednesday. In Wednesday’s other JFL games, leaders Cremartin are away to Killeevan, while Emyvale travel to Aghabog and Oram host Clones. There are also games in the Platinum Tanks Reserve Football Leagues spread throughout the week, while the GRM Minor Football Leagues continue on Tuesday.

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