Carrickmacross and Cremartin fly the Monaghan flag in the Ulster club football championships on Sunday, while Donaghmoyne and Inniskeen ladies both contest Ulster finals over the weekend. The Minor Hurling League Final takes centre-stage on Saturday, while there is also a semi-final down for decision in the RFL Division One on a quiet weekend for domestic fixtures.
AIB Ulster Club Intermediate Football Championship First Round
Carrickmacross v Kildress, Sunday, 12.45, Omagh
Carrickmacross represent Monaghan in Sunday’s Ulster Club IFC first-round game against Tyrone’s Kildress in Omagh.
Wins over Seán McDermotts, Aughnamullen and Tyholland got Carrick through to the Monaghan IFC Final, where they ran out four-point winners against their neighbours Corduff. Kildress also had four straight wins on their way to Tyrone IFC success, as they saw off Urney, Edendork and Loughmacrory to reach the decider, which produced a five-point victory against Galbally. Carrick, who also booked their place in the IFL Final last Sunday, last competed in this competition in 2006, when they fell to a disappointing first-round defeat against Tyrone side Stewartstown. Carrick went on to reach the SFC Final in 2008, the same year they won their first SFL title, but they were surprisingly relegated from senior last year.
Carrick have scored 4-49 in four championship matches – an average of 15.25 points – while conceding 4-25, which is an average of 9.25 points per game, giving them an average winning margin of six points. Kildress have hit 4-41 (13.25 points per game) and let in 3-30 – an average of 9.75 points.
Carrick can call on a number of players with county experience, including seven who have played for Monaghan at senior level. The Emmets’ success this year has been built around a forward-line which must be one of the best in the country at this level, featuring Stephen Gollogly, Mark and Seán Downey and Andrew Callan. James Conlon and Peter O’Hanlon are the main men around midfield, while Mark McNally and Gary McEnaney will anchor the defence. Frank and Paul McGurk, Damian Kelly, Conor McAleer, Des Treacy and Dean McNally will be expected to lead the way for Kildress. Carrick may feel they have unfinished business from five years ago and they are capable of going a long way in this competition, starting with victory on Sunday.
This game will be followed at Healy Park by the Ulster Club SFC clash between Dromore and Ballinderry.
Carrickmacross IFC scorers 2011: Andrew Callan 0-16 (8f); Stephen Gollogly 2-9 (0-7f); Mark Downey 1-10 (1-0 s-l, 0-4f); Seán Downey 1-4; Séamus Mulholland, Cillian Cromwell (2 ‘45s) 0-2 each; James Conlon, Paddy Lonergan, Ciarán Ward, John McMenamin, Conor McEnaney, Gary McEnaney 0-1 each.
AIB Ulster Club Junior Football Championship First Round
Cremartin v Shercock, Sunday, 2.30, Kingspan Breffni Park
Cremartin will be attempting to continue the impressive recent record of Monaghan clubs in the Ulster JFC when they begin their campaign against Cavan junior champions Shercock at Breffni Park.
Cremartin went unbeaten through their run to Monaghan JFC success, even though they rode their luck at times. They had a facile win over Fergal O’Hanlons in the first round and they saw off Clones to book their place in the semi-finals, where they needed a replay to battle past Aghabog. Clones were Cremartin’s opponents once again in the final and the Shamrocks came out on top by 1-6 to 0-7.
After beating Mountnugent, Shercock lost to Shannon Gaels, but they bounced back to defeat Ballyconnell, Cornafean and Arva (after a replay) to reach the final, where they had a 1-10 to 1-7 win against Munterconnacht.
Cremartin’s five championship games have seen them win four and draw one. The Shamrocks have scored 11-46 (15.8 points per game) while conceding just 0-29 or 5.8 points per game. Their average winning margin of 10 points was boosted, however, by their hammering of Fergal O’Hanlons in the first round. Shercock have scored just over 1-10 per game (7-72 in seven games) and conceded just over 9.5 points on average (3-58).
Niall Flanagan, Gary Boyd, Christopher Farrell and Barry Carragher give Cremartin strength and options around the middle of the field, while Darren Bishop is the focal point of the Shamrocks’ attack, where he will be looking for more support from the likes of Kevin Brennan. Their back-line has been in fine form this year, led by Declan Farrell, Fergal Mulligan and Paddy McGuigan, while county minor captain Johnny McGuigan is equally at home in attack or defence. John McEnroe, Killian Clarke, Brian Sankey, Paddy McPhillips and Stephen Donnery are likely to be to the fore for Monaghan-border club Shercock.
Cremartin’s ability to score goals at crucial times while keeping them out at the other end has got them this far and they can repeat that on Sunday.
Cremartin JFC scorers 2011: Darren Bishop 3-7 (0-3f); Barry Carragher 1-8 (0-7f); Stephen Bishop 1-7; Mark Bishop 0-10 (2f); Niall Flanagan 2-1; Ronan Burke 2-0; Gary Boyd, Gerard Malone 1-1 each; Kevin Brennan 0-4; Christopher Farrell (1f), Liam McVicar 0-2 each; Conor Mulligan, Declan Farrell, Kevin Atkinson 0-1 each.
Ulster Ladies Club Senior Football Championship Final
Donaghmoyne v Glenfin, Sunday, 3.00, Clones
Donaghmoyne ladies will be gunning to regain the Ulster Club SFC title in Clones, with Glenfin from Donegal standing in their way.
Donaghmoyne’s bid for a sixth provincial success in a row was scuppered by Donegal opposition, Termon, in last year’s final, but they have bounced back to return for another big day. The 2009 All-Ireland champions eased past Emyvale for their ninth consecutive county championship, before beating Belfast super-club St. Gall’s and Armagh champions Clann Éireann, Lurgan in their two Ulster games to date. Glenfin, who are managed by Donegal football star Frank McGlynn, won their first county SFC title when they beat Four Masters and they got the better of Down’s Annaclone and Cavan side Lurgan.
Donaghmoyne can call on eight players who helped Monaghan to this year’s All-Ireland final – Cathriona McConnell, Sharon, Cora and Joanne Courtney, Amanda Casey, Eileen McElroy, Niamh Lynch and Linda Martin – so they have the experience and the form to win their sixth Ulster championship in seven years. Glenfin’s standout player is 2010 All-Star Yvonne McMonagle and they also have ability in the likes of Karen Guthrie, Gráinne Houston and Mari Herron, but after last year’s shock defeat, Donaghmoyne are well warned of the Donegal threat.
Ulster Ladies Club Junior Football Championship Final
Inniskeen v Sperrin Óg, Saturday, 3.00, Truagh
24 hours before Donaghmoyne’s title-bid, Inniskeen face Sperrin Óg from Tyrone in the Ulster ladies junior final at St. Mellan’s.
After winning the Monaghan JFC Final against Latton, Inniskeen beat St. Pat’s, Donagh (Fermanagh) and Cloughaneely (Donegal) to reach this stage, while Greencastle-based Sperrin Óg edged out Donaghmore in their county final before seeing off Faughanvale from Derry and Drumlane of Cavan in Ulster.
Inniskeen will need big performances from county player Isabel Kieran, Sharon McGahon, Voreen Quigley and Abby Duffy, while Louise McDermott, Nicola Glass and Amy and Kim McCullagh are central to Sperrin Óg’s chances. Latton, Truagh and Corduff have all won this competition in recent years and Inniskeen can add their name to the roll-of-honour on Saturday.
Silver Hill Foods Minor Hurling League Final
Castleblayney v Emmet Grattans, Saturday, 12.30, Oram
Castleblayney will be attempting to make up for their MHC Final defeat when they take on Emmet Grattans in the MHL decider on Saturday. This game has been postponed for a number of weeks due to a couple of Blayney players being involved in their seniors’ run to the Ulster IHC Final.
Blayney lost to Clontibret in the championship for the second year in a row, but they came back to win the league last year and they will be determined to do the same on Saturday. These teams shared the top position in the league table after they both won four of their five games. Emmet Grattans (an amalgamation of Carrickmacross and Inniskeen) put up some big scores in their first couple of games, but they lost a low-scoring game against Blayney in their last outing.
Rising star Fergal Rafter is the pivotal figure for Blayney, along with Niall Garland, Patrick Finnegan, Tony Forde and Cormac McNally, while Emmet Grattans will need big performances from Colm and Conal Meegan, Jamie Guinan and Kevin Crawley. Blayney are used to being favourites at all levels and they should have enough about them to retain their title.
Platinum Tanks Reserve Football League Division One Semi-Final
Scotstown v Castleblayney, Sunday, 2.00, Scotstown
Scotstown and Castleblayney battle it out on Sunday for the right to play Truagh in the RFL Division One Final.
Scotstown edged ahead of Clontibret to finish top of the league table, four points and three places ahead of Blayney, but the Faughs have already won reserve silverware this year after they retained the O’Duffy Cup. Blayney won the first meeting of these teams in 2011, but they surprisingly conceded their second clash.
Shane Carey, Paul Grant, Damien McArdle, Orin Heaphey and Fergal McPhillips are key players for Scotstown, while Mark Treanor, Jerry Brady, Brendan McElroy, Ryan Treacy and Ray McArdle are among the main men for Blayney. This is a hard one to call, but home advantage could tip it in favour of Scotstown, who will be keen to win silverware to make up for their SFC Final defeat.