The domestic club championships may be almost finished for the year, but this weekend is still a busy one on the fixtures front. Semi-finals in the Senior and Junior Football Leagues, the final round of the Intermediate Football League and finals in the Senior Hurling League, the Minor Football Championship Division Two and the Reserve Football League Division Three are due to be played between Saturday and Sunday, as well as a couple of Ulster ladies club championship matches.
Silver Hill Foods Senior Hurling League Final
Castleblayney v Truagh, Saturday, 4.00, Monaghan
It’s the tried and tested versus the new kids on the block when Castleblayney and Truagh contest the SHL Final at Gavan Duffy Park on Saturday.
Blayney are the kingpins of Monaghan hurling and they have already won the SHC title this year, so they have a double in their sights, while Truagh are in their first ever SHL final. The last few years have seen Truagh make a number of important steps in hurling – winning their first adult title via the senior shield last year before winning a SHC game for the first time this year and now reaching a first senior league decider. Blayney have also had success at Ulster level this year, as they reached the Ulster Club SHL Division Four Final and they are through to the provincial IHC final for the first time after last Sunday’s semi-final win over Lisbellaw.
Blayney have been the team to beat all year in Monaghan, proving their hunger to regain top spot from Inniskeen by winning 12 and drawing one of their 13 domestic league and championship games to date.
Mickey McHugh has been in the form of his life for Blayney and his free-taking could again be crucial on Saturday, while Barry Reilly, Gary Boyd, Fergal Rafter, Peter and Mark Treanor and Paul Murphy are other key players for Blayney. Truagh are very dependent on Pat O’Connell’s free-taking for scores, while John McAnespie, Conor McGinnity, Daniel McKenna and Damian McCarron also have big parts to play.
Truagh are definitely on an upward curve, but they have already lost three times to Blayney this year, including a semi-final in the SHC, and that run is unlikely to change this time.
Maguire Transport Minor Football Championship Division Two Final
Killanny v Magheracloone, Saturday, 4.00, Blackhill
Killanny and Magheracloone go head-to-head in the MFC Division Two Final on Saturday.
Both sides got a bye through the first round, while they both needed replays to advance from the semi-finals. Killanny had eight points to spare against Latton at the second attempt, while Magheracloone eventually came through their three-match saga with Rock Sarsfields after they had drawn twice – the second of those after extra-time.
Killanny suffered disappointment in the league final, where they lost to Rock Sarsfields. This is the south-Monaghan club’s third final of the year between the minor and Under-21 grades and they will be determined to make it third-time lucky.
The Duffy twins, Ronan and Tiernan, should play key roles for Killanny, along with Cillian and Dermot Leegan and Michael Vernon, while Magheracloone will need Killian Rudden, Jamie Kieran and David Kirk on top form. Killanny beat Magheracloone twice in the league this year and they can complete a hat-trick of victories on Saturday.
Drumlin Group of Credit Unions Senior Football League Semi-Final
Ballybay v Latton, Sunday, 1.00, Ballybay * Note change of time
Neighbours Ballybay and Latton renew their rivalry on Sunday, with a place in the SFL final against Clontibret on offer for the winners.
Latton go into this game on a high after winning the Senior Football Championship last Sunday, although they still have something to play for here, as they have never before won a senior league and championship double. Ballybay led the SFL table for most of the season, but they were overtaken late on by Magheracloone, so they ended up in second place with 27 points, one point and one place ahead of Latton, who won the league last year. Ballybay beat Latton in the first round of the SFL, but Latton had a comfortable win in their second meeting and of course, they went on to steal a dramatic victory over their neighbours in the SFC semi-finals.
Ballybay have a deadly forward line which features Paul Finlay, Thomas Kerr, Hugh Malone and Christopher and Shane McGuinness, while Drew and Ryan Wylie, Shane McQuillan and Fergal Smyth can also be expected to play key roles. Latton will once again be looking for big performances from Hugh McElroy, Owen Duffy, Shane Coyle and Bernard O’Brien in the forwards, Owen Lennon and Aidan Farmer in midfield and Kieran Duffy, Owen Coyle and Edmund Lennon at the back.
With Latton possibly having an eye on their upcoming Ulster club campaign and Ballybay determined to get their own back after their championship heartbreak, the Pearse Brothers could have the edge here.
Gerry’s Takeaway Ballybay Junior Football League Semi-Finals
Emyvale v Cremartin, Sunday, 2.00, Emyvale
Toome v Clones, Sunday, 2.00, Toome
Both semi-finals in the Junior Football League are down for decision this Sunday.
Championship winners Cremartin continue their double bid with an away game against Emyvale. These teams finished level in the league table, with both earning 23 points, so a close game can be anticipated. Cremartin edged the first meeting of these teams in the league this year, but Emyvale had a double-scores win under lights last month.
The absence of Brendan McKenna contributed to Emyvale’s championship semi-final defeat against Clones, but they will hope the big midfielder can drive them forward in this game, along with Daniel McMahon, Martin McAree, Seán McMeel and Emmet Colleran. Cremartin will be hard to stop if Darren Bishop, Niall Flanagan, Paddy and Johnny McGuigan and Gary Boyd get into their stride, but Gerry McCarville’s men are also preparing for the start of their Ulster championship campaign on October 30, so they may have an eye on that. Emyvale, on the other hand, must win the league to secure a quick return to intermediate football, which could spur them on to victory.
In the other semi-final, table-toppers Toome host championship runners-up Clones.
Having been tipped as contenders for the JFC, Toome flattered to deceive, with defeats to Emyvale and Aghabog seeing them exit at the quarter-final stage. Their season could have petered out from there, but they have regrouped well under Declan Loughman to win their last seven games and finish top of the JFL. Clones made their own comeback from an inconsistent start to battle their way to the JFC final, where they lost narrowly to Cremartin, while also doing enough to secure fourth place in the league.
Toome will be looking to Gavin Flanagan, Gary Wilson and Stephen and Alan Lambe to set the tone for their performance, while Clones will need Adrian Alford, Darragh Holland, Micheál Treanor and David Freeman to be on top of their game.
This is a finely-balanced game between two teams who have their sights firmly set on promotion, but Toome took three points from their two league games against Clones and they have the ability to continue their late push and qualify for the final.
Platinum Tanks Reserve Football League Division Three Final
Aughnamullen v Killeevan, Sunday, 3.30, Drumhowan
Aughnamullen and Killeevan contest the RFL Division Three Final on Sunday. Aughnamullen finished second in the league table before beating Clontibret in the semi-finals, while Killeevan, who took fourth place, ripped up the form book away to table-toppers Emyvale in the last four. Aughnamullen earlier exited the Crawley Cup at the quarter-final stage with a one-point defeat to Truagh, while Killeevan lost to Blackhill by the same margin in the first round. The teams last met back in March, when Aughnamullen came out on top.
David Flynn, Gerard Graham, Finnian Smith, Johnny McGuirk and Dermot Lynch can play key roles for Killeevan, with Mark and Edmond McArdle, Mickey Keenan, Paul Mulligan and Pauric Bannigan among the main men for Aughnamullen. If Killeevan can repeat their semi-final performance, they will be in with a real chance here, but Aughnamullen have been the more consistent side and they have to be backed to add to last year’s Crawley Cup success.
There is still plenty to play for in the last round of the Monaghan Electrical Intermediate Football League on Saturday. Rockcorry can secure the fourth semi-final place if they win at home to Donaghmoyne, but if they slip up; Tyholland can catch them by beating IFC winners Carrickmacross. A draw away to Seán McDermotts would be enough for Aughnamullen to secure their intermediate status, while Éire Óg need to beat high-flying Currin at home to hold on to any chance of pulling off an unlikely escape. Meanwhile, already-relegated Drumhowan complete their campaign with a home game against Corduff, who have qualified for the semi-finals.
There are also semi-finals in the other three divisions of the Platinum Tanks Reserve Football League on Sunday. Defending champions Clontibret host Truagh in Division One; Tyholland and Corduff clash for the right to play Ballybay in the Division Two decider and Aghabog take on Castleblayney in Division Four, with Blackhill awaiting the winners in the final.
Two Monaghan ladies clubs will be seeking to advance to Ulster finals this weekend. Inniskeen are at home to Cloughaneely of Donegal in the junior semi-final, while Donaghmoyne will be expected to come away with a victory from Armagh side Clann Éireann.