Monaghan’s ladies footballers are in All-Ireland SFC semi-final action on Saturday, while there are also quarter-finals in the Gormley uPVC Senior Football Championship down for decision over the weekend, as well as a number of league games.
TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Senior Football Championship Semi-Final
Monaghan v Kerry, Saturday, 5.00, Birr
Monaghan’s ladies footballers have the chance to qualify for the All-Ireland SFC Final when they take on Kerry in Birr, Co Offaly on Saturday. Monaghan last reached the final in 2008, when they lost to Cork, who are already through to the decider again this year.
It has been a great year so far for Monaghan, under the stewardship of Gregory McGonigle, who won a trophy in January in the form of the O’Dowd Cup. They enjoyed an unbeaten run in the National Football League up until the Division One semi-final defeat to Laois, before running up big scores against Armagh, Down and Tyrone to win the Ulster championship and adding a good win over Meath in the All-Ireland quarter-finals. Kerry, who finished joint-top of the NFL Division Two only to lose to Meath in the semi-finals, lost to Cork in the Munster final, but have bounced back impressively against Donegal and Mayo.
Monaghan’s attack has been in flying form this year, scoring 14-59 in four championship games, with goal-poacher Caoimhe Mohan Ciara McAnespie, Therese McNally, Niamh Kindlon and Ellen McCarron all contributing, while Cathriona McConnell returned from America to resume her place in the Meath game. Amanda Casey and Cora Courtney will line out at midfield, while the backs were also impressive last time out, led by captain Sharon Courtney, Player of the Match Gráinne McNally and Aoife McAnespie. Louise Ní Muircheartaigh, Louise Galvin, Sarah Houlihan, Denise Hallissey, Caroline Kelly and Deirdre Corridan are among the key players for Kerry, who will be determined to set up an all-Munster All-Ireland final.
Monaghan ladies championship scorers 2011: Caoimhe Mohan 7-9; Ciara McAnespie 3-6; Cathriona McConnell 2-7 (0-4f); Niamh Kindlon 1-10 (0-5f); Therese McNally 1-9 (0-4f); Ellen McCarron 0-7 (1f); Laura McEnaney 0-4; Aoife McAnespie, Natasha Mohan 0-2 each; Amanda Casey, Cora Courtney, Eileen McElroy 0-1 each
Gormley uPVC Senior Football Championship
Clontibret v Magheracloone, Saturday, 6.15, Inniskeen
Last year’s SFC finalists cross swords once again on Saturday, when defending champions Clontibret and Magheracloone attempt to qualify for another semi-final. Clontibret held on narrowly in last year’s county final replay, with Paul McElroy’s last-gasp penalty save winning it for them.
Clontibret had a comprehensive win over Inniskeen in the first round, but their second game was a different story, as they lost a war of attrition against Latton. In contrast, Magheracloone’s campaign started with a whimper when they tamely lost to Truagh, but they have rebounded well with high-scoring victories against Doohamlet (after extra-time) and Inniskeen.
Magheracloone have coped well with a number of absences this year and they are second in the Senior Football League with 24 points from 16 games, four points ahead of Clontibret, who they have already beaten twice. Both sides warmed up for this clash with good wins last Saturday in the league, when Magheracloone beat Latton and Clontibret eased past Ballybay.
Clontibret’s team is packed with county experience, including current county seniors Conor McManus, Dessie Mone and Vincent Corey, as well as the likes of John Paul Mone, Colum Greenan, Paul McGuigan and Darach Mooney. Magheracloone are again set to be without Tommy Freeman, who is still in America, but Damien Freeman has been in excellent form up front and he is currently the top scorer in the SFC with 1-23. James and Pete Ward, Paudie Finnegan and Paul Farnan should also play key roles for Magheracloone, who have been boosted in recent weeks by Gavin Doogan’s long-awaited return from a three-month absence with an ankle injury.
Gormley uPVC Senior Football Championship
Ballybay v Castleblayney, Sunday, 6.15, Aughnamullen
Ballybay will be seeking to resurrect their SFC hopes when they take on Castleblayney in Sunday’s quarter-final.
Ballybay have led the SFL all year and they carried that form into their first two championship games, where they saw off Monaghan Harps and Truagh, but they suffered a heavy defeat at the hands of Scotstown last time out. Blayney also lost to Scotstown in their championship opener, but they returned to winning ways by comfortably getting the better of Truagh.
Ballybay are still top of the league with two rounds left, despite slumping to a heavy defeat against Clontibret, while Blayney’s most recent win over Inniskeen moved them up to sixth. The Pearse Brothers, who won both league meetings of the teams this year.
Ballybay have been one of the most prolific teams in senior football this season (and the top goal-scorers with 25 in the league), with quality finishers like Paul Finlay, Christopher and Shane McGuinness, Thomas Kerr and Hugh Malone. Shane McQuillan, Thomas O’Neill and Fergal Smyth are also big players for Noel Marron’s side, but they have sorely missed captain Drew Wylie in recent weeks and his injury is likely to keep him out of this game. Ciarán Hanratty, Martin McElroy, Cormac Brady and Mark Treanor were in fine form for Blayney last time out against Truagh. Francis Moore and Ciarán Hughes have been building up an improving midfield partnership for the Faughs, who will also be looking for big performances from Dermot Malone and Dermot McArdle.
Clones host Emyvale in the Gerry’s Takeaway Junior Football League on Friday, while there games in Divisions One, Two and Four of the Platinum Tanks Reserve Football League between Friday and Sunday. Truagh and Carrickmacross contest a play-off for third place in the GRM Minor Football League Division One on Saturday in Clontibret, while Aughnamullen and Blackhill host the Gerry’s Takeaway Under-12 Football League Finals. The same clubs also host the Under-12 Hurling League Finals on Monday.
There is a full round of games in the Monaghan Electrical Intermediate Football League on Sunday. Leaders Carrickmacross are away to third-placed Currin, while Carrick’s nearest challengers Corduff make the long trip to Threemilehouse to play Seán McDermotts. Donaghmoyne are at home to Aughnamullen, Tyholland travel to Rockcorry and the bottom two go head-to-head when Éire Óg host Drumhowan.
JFC winners Cremartin are away to Toome on Sunday in the JFL, with Blackhill taking on Aghabog and Oram up against Killeevan. The first semi-final in the GRM MFL Division One will take place on Tuesday, when the winners of the Truagh/Carrickmacross play-off will be away to Clontibret. On the same evening, the losers of that play-off will face Scotstown, with a place against Castleblayney on offer for the victors. There is another JFL game on Wednesday night, when Emyvale will host Cremartin under lights.