The Universal Graphics Junior Football Championship Final dominates the schedule this weekend, but there are also quarter-finals in the McGuigan Builders Intermediate Football Championship as well as a glut of league games.
Universal Graphics Junior Football Championship Final
Clones v Cremartin, Sunday, 6.00, Ballybay
Clones and Cremartin go head-to-head in the Universal Graphics Junior Football Championship Final in Ballybay on Sunday.
Since being relegated from intermediate in 2006, Clones have reached the semi-finals of the JFC four times – including last year’s defeat to Cremartin – and this is their second final in that time (they lost to Drumhowan in 2008). Cremartin were in the JFC and JFL deciders last year, but lost to Corduff after a replay in the championship before being edged out by Seán McDermotts in the league.
Cremartin cruised past Fergal O’Hanlons in the first round and they became the first team to qualify for the semi-finals when they beat Clones by five points in round two. They got their toughest test to date in the semis when they needed a replay to shake off Aghabog by three points. Gerry McCarville’s side haven’t hit top gear yet in the championship, but they could spring a big performance in the final. Cremartin have yet to concede a goal in the championship, while they have scored ten goals at the other end. However, their point-scoring has been less than impressive in their last three championship games, where their points total is just 18.
Clones would have been long shots for the title a few months back. As well as having patchy league form, which saw them win just one of their first six games, they were forced to come from three points down inside the final quarter to edge past Killeevan in the championship preliminary round, before squeezing past Aghabog in the first round. They lost to Cremartin in their third championship game, but they bounced back with a comfortable win over Blackhill and they showed real spirit to battle past Emyvale in the semi-finals. Clones have shown that they have what it takes to come through tight games, as three of their championship victories have been by the narrowest of margins.
Cremartin have been the front-runners in the Junior Football League for most of the year, although they are currently a point behind Toome with a game in hand, while Clones have won their last three games, including an away win over Cremartin, to move up to fourth place. They have also benefited from playing in the RFL Division One this year.
Clones have lost Colm Connolly, Declan McKernan, Ciarán Kierans and Darragh Graham from last year’s team, but the emergence of accurate corner-forward David Freeman has boosted their attack, where Adrian Alford continues to be a consistent threat. Danny Rooney has adapted well to his new role as a midfielder, while the switch of Paul Shiels to full-back has tightened up their defence, which is led by the combative Micheál Treanor at number six. Darren Freeman has yet to recapture the form of last year, but he could still be a trump card for Clones.
Cremartin have options all over the pitch, starting at the back, where Damien Lavelle is a solid last line of defence, behind strong defenders like Declan Farrell, Patrick and Jonathan McGuigan, Martin McNally and Fergal Mulligan. Niall Flanagan, Gary Boyd, Barry Carragher and Christopher Farrell give them strength and power around the middle, while their forward line is led by Darren Bishop, with Kevin Brennan, Stephen and Mark Bishop also providing options.
Cremartin’s four games have seen them win three and draw one. The Shamrocks have scored 10-40 while conceding just 0-22, giving them an average of +12 points per game (17.5 to 5.5), although that was boosted by their hammering of Fergal O’Hanlons in the first round. Clones have played five games, winning four and losing one. They have scored 3-50, an average of just under 12 points per game and conceded 3-39 (9.6 points per game).
Cremartin have been in 15 JFC finals, including two replays, but have won just one-third of those so far with their record reading won five, drew two and lost eight. This is a tenth JFC decider for Clones, who have won four, drawn one and lost four so far. The only other meeting of these clubs at this stage was in 1995, when Clones won after a replay.
Another replay can’t be ruled out, but it’s Cremartin who look to have the better-balanced team and they will be determined to make up for last year without the need for a second day.
McGuigan Builders Intermediate Football Championship
Aughnamullen v Tyholland, Saturday, 6.30, Drumhowan
Aughnamullen and Tyholland battle it out for a place in the IFC semi-finals when they clash in Drumhowan on Saturday.
Both teams have two wins and one defeat to their name so far in the championship, while Tyholland have also drawn one game. Aughnamullen beat Drumhowan and Currin in the preliminary and first round respectively before losing to championship favourites Carrickmacross last week. Tyholland lost by a point to Donaghmoyne in their opening game, but they bounced back with an extra-time win over Seán McDermotts. Their next game against Currin also went to extra-time, ending in a draw, but they won the replay by five points to keep their hopes alive.
Tyholland, who lost to Doohamlet in last year’s IFC decider, have won their last three league games to move up to joint-fourth in the IFL, four points and three places ahead of Aughnamullen. Tyholland have taken four points from the two league meetings between the teams, as they drew in Aughnamullen before winning their home game last month.
Tyholland are set to once again be without Raymond Ronaghan, who missed the Currin replay due to holidays, but they coped well in his absence last weekend, with players like Dermot Coyle, Karl O’Connell, Ronan McNally, Peadar Farrelly and Cyril and Gregory Ronaghan stepping up to the mark. Aughnamullen have been boosted in recent weeks by the return from America of Pete Dooney, who should play a key role for Mick O’Dowd’s men, along with his brother Sam, as well as Chris Keenan, Lee Conlan, Mark McArdle, Seán Sheridan and Damien Hamilton. A close game is in prospect, but Tyholland should do enough to reach another semi-final.
McGuigan Builders Intermediate Football Championship
Donaghmoyne v Rockcorry, Sunday, 1.30, Cremartin
Donaghmoyne and Rockcorry put their IFC hopes on the line on Sunday afternoon in Cremartin.
Donaghmoyne won their first-round game against Tyholland by the narrowest of margins, but they were beaten by Corduff last time out. Meanwhile, Rockcorry lost to Corduff in the preliminary round, but have recovered with wins over Drumhowan and Éire Óg, although they won’t have learned much from the latter, which proved all too easy for the Cavan-border side. Taking league form as a guide, there is very little between these teams, as Rock are a point ahead of Donaghmoyne in a congested mid-table of the IFL, although the Fontenoys had a three-point win in their only clash to date this year.
Donaghmoyne have lost Rory Woods to emigration and they have also been without the likes of Mattie O’Reilly, John Farrell and Christopher Deery for most of the summer, but many of their young stars are returning to bolster their team, who had been very dependent on Pauric Donaghy, Ciarán Daly, Bernard Kelly and Gary Woods. Rock have a strong midfield partnership in Mark Daly and Noel Carroll, while they will also be looking for big performances from Damien Matthews, Keith Daly, Niall McKeown and Stephen McGuirk in defence and Mark McGuirk and Paul McKeown up front. Rock reached the semi-finals last year and they will be keen to at least match that achievement by winning this game.
There is a full round of games down for decision in the Drumlin Group of Credit Unions Senior Football League. On Saturday, league leaders Ballybay host Clontibret, while Doohamlet face Truagh. Latton play Magheracloone in a repeat of last year’s final and with both teams showing good form at the minute, it could be the one to watch. On Sunday, there is a local derby between Scotstown and Monaghan Harps, while Inniskeen are up against Castleblayney.
Beaten JFC semi-finalists Aghabog and Emyvale clash in the Gerry’s Takeaway Junior Football League on Sunday, while there are also games in Divisions One, Three and Four of the Platinum Tanks Reserve Football League spread over the weekend and the GRM Minor Football Leagues continue on Monday and Tuesday.
On Wednesday, Latton are at home to Inniskeen in the SFL, while there are four games to be played in the Monaghan Electrical Intermediate Football League, where Aughnamullen host Drumhowan in a relegation derby, Rockcorry face Carrickmacross, Éire Óg take on Donaghmoyne and Corduff make the long trip to Tyholland. In the JFL, Cremartin are at home to Blackhill, Killeevan welcome neighbours Aghabog to Newbliss and Toome travel to Emyvale for a floodlit game. There are also games in Divisions One and Four of the RFL.