Ulster Club Previews
Sunday is a big day for Monaghan clubs in the Ulster football championships, with the county’s Senior, Intermediate and Junior champions all in action at different venues in different counties.
AIB Ulster Club Senior Football Championship First Round
Latton v Glenswilly, Sunday, 3.30, Ballybofey
Latton will be attempting to win an Ulster club championship game for the first time when they take on Glenswilly at MacCumhaill Park on Sunday.
This game was originally due to have been played two weeks ago, but the Ulster Council postponed it to allow Glenswilly and Donegal star Michael Murphy to go to Australia, where he played a key role in Ireland’s comprehensive International Rules win. The delay has come at a cost to Latton, however, as Bernard O’Brien and Kevin Hughes are abroad and Dermot O’Brien is suspended (pending an appeal) after being sent off in their defeat to Clontibret in the league final.
Latton won their fourth Monaghan Senior Football Championship title this year, seeing off Doohamlet, Clontibret, Ballybay and Scotstown. Latton’s previous two forays into this competition ended in first-round defeats to Cavan Gaels in 2005 and Ballinderry in 2008, both by narrow margins, summing up the poor recent record of clubs from the county.
Glesnwilly’s path to the Donegal title was similar to Latton’s in Monaghan. Glenswilly have played seven championship games so far – starting with a two-legged tie against last year’s champions Naomh Cónaill, the second of which was marred by violent scenes at the end. They saw off St. Eunan’s after a replay in the quarter-finals and Kilcar in the semis to book their place in the county final, where a virtuoso performance from Michael Murphy (who scored 1-7) led them to victory. The Donegal men also have a win under their belts in the Ulster championship after a late penalty by Murphy grabbed a dramatic victory away to Cavan Gaels.
There is very little to separate the teams on their championship statistics. Latton’s championship run to date has followed a pattern, with all three games producing narrow wins in low-scoring games. They have scored 2-37 (an average of 10.75 points per game) and conceded 1-33 or an average of 9 points per game. Glenswilly have scores 5-57 – just over ten points per game – while conceding 2-55, which is just over 8.7 points per game.
Both sides have strong defences and both have been particularly adept at keeping clean-sheets, so a goal could be crucial.
Latton’s strength lies in their defence, which has been very strict, led by Kieran Duffy, Owen Coyle, Edmund Lennon and Stephen Fitzpatrick. Owen Lennon and Aidan Farmer have a long-standing and powerful partnership in midfield, while Hugh McElroy, Owen Duffy and Shane Coyle give the O’Rahillys options up front although the absence of Bernard O’Brien deprives them of the man that often makes the forward line tick from the ‘40.
Apart from having arguably the best young footballer in the country in Murphy, who captained Donegal to the Ulster title this year at the age of 22, Glenswilly have other quality players like Gary McFadden, Neil Gallagher, Ciarán Bonner, Darren McGinley and full-back Eamon Ward, who previously won a Monaghan SFC with Clontibret.
This result depends hugely on how Latton cope with Michael Murphy and if they restrict him they are in with a good chance, but that is easier said than done. A close, low-scoring game is on the cards, but the cards look to be stacked in Glenswilly’s favour.
Latton SFC scorers 2011: Hugh McElroy 1-11 (1-0 pen, 0-3f); Shane Coyle 0-12 (6f); Owen Duffy 0-8; Kevin Hughes 1-0; Bernard O’Brien 0-2 (1f); Niall Traynor, Owen Coyle, Owen Lennon, Dermot O’Brien 0-1 each.
AIB Ulster Club Intermediate Football Championship Semi-Final
Carrickmacross v Craigbane, Sunday, 2.30, Omagh
Carrickmacross will bid to reach the Ulster Club IFC Final when they take on a strong Craigbane team from Derry at Healy Park on Sunday. No Monaghan club has won this competition since Inniskeen won it in 2005 on their way to All-Ireland success, although Doohamlet reached the final last year, only to lose to eventual national champions Lisnaskea.
Both of these teams have 100% records in this year’s championship. Carrickmacross beat Seán McDermotts, Aughnamullen, Tyholland and Corduff to win the Monaghan IFC and they came from behind to make a winning start to their Ulster campaign at the expense of Tyrone side Kildress. Craigbane saw off Faughanvale, Foreglen and Slaughtmanus to qualify for the Derry semi-finals, where they edged through an amazing game against Drumsurn by 2-19 to 5-8. The final against Swatragh had a much more orthodox scoreline of 0-9 to 0-8 in favour of Craigbane, who went on to cruise through their Ulster opener against 13-man Kilclief of Down. Craigbane have previous experience of this competition, as they won it twice in three years between 1999 and 2001, although Carrick are no strangers to the big occasion, with a number of their players having played county football.
Carrick, who have lost just four times in 25 games this year, completed a Monaghan double when they won the IFL last Sunday, beating Currin in the final with relative ease.
Carrick have scored 4-60 in five championship matches – an average of 14.4 points – while conceding 4-33, which is an average of nine points per game. In Craigbane’s six matches, they have scored 8-79 and conceded 7-47, which gives them an average winning margin just shy of six points (just over 17 points for and 11.33 points against per game).
Carrick’s scoring power in the form of Stephen Gollogly, Andrew Callan and Seán and Mark Downey has got them to this stage, as well as their power around midfield in the likes of James Conlon, Peter O’Hanlon and James McGeown and solidity in defence with Gary McEnaney and Mark McNally. Craigbane possess rising stars in Lee and Ryan Moore, as well as a mix of experienced players like Fergal Crossan, Blaine Gormley, Adie McLaughlin, Rory Moore and Cathal O’Kane.
This has the makings of a cracking game between two teams who have the ability to go on and lift the title, but Carrick have what it takes to make it two wins in a row in Omagh and progress to the final.
Carrickmacross IFC scorers 2011: Andrew Callan 0-21 (11f); Stephen Gollogly 2-12 (0-8f); Mark Downey 1-12 (1-0 s-l, 0-4f); Seán Downey 1-4; Séamus Mulholland, Cillian Cromwell (2 ‘45s), Gary McEnaney 0-2 each; James Conlon, Paddy Lonergan, Ciarán Ward, John McMenamin, Conor McEnaney 0-1 each.
AIB Ulster Club Junior Football Championship Semi-Final
Cremartin v Burt, Sunday, 12.45, Enniskillen
Cremartin defend Monaghan’s impressive record in the Ulster Club JFC in Sunday’s semi-final against Donegal champions Burt at Brewster Park. Cremartin are looking to become the fifth club from the county in as many years to reach the final, following in the footsteps of Corduff, Emyvale, Drumhowan and Aughnamullen. The former three all won their finals, although Corduff had their title taken off them after they were found to have fielded an underage player in last year’s decider against Swanlinbar.
Cremartin certainly have the ability to go all the way. Gerry McCarville’s men 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 when the Shamrocks came out on top by 1-6 to 0-7 and they saw off Cavan champions Shercock after a replay last Sunday in the first round of Ulster.
Burt took three games to get past Naomh Pádraig, Muff in their Donegal quarter-final, as they shared the spoils from the two-legged tie before Burt won the play-off. They beat Red Hughs, Killygordon and Naomh Pádraig, Lifford in the county semi-final and final respectively before edging past Down club Bredagh by the narrowest of margins in the first round of the provincial competition.
Cremartin’s seven championship games have seen them win five and draw two. The Shamrocks have scored 14-64 (just over 15 points per game) while conceding just 2-46, which is less than 7.5 points per game. Burt have won five and lost one of their six matches, scoring 13-39 – an average of 13 points – and let in 3-43 (8.67 points per game). Both sides have been prolific goal-scorers as well as keeping them out at the other end, so whoever can edge that battle will be well on their way to booking their place in the provincial final.
Gary Boyd, Niall Flanagan, 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. Enda, Paddy and Kevin McDermott, Paul McHugh are among the main men for Burt, who have a number of dual players involved in their run to the Ulster Club JHC Final, where they drew with Creggan last Sunday. They will hope to have free-taker Joe Boyle available as he appeals a recent red card on Friday.
Cremartin have had no less than 17 scorers in their championship run and that diversity of threats from all over the pitch should be enough to see them through on Sunday.
Cremartin JFC scorers 2011: Darren Bishop 3-15 (0-7f); Barry Carragher 1-11 (0-8f); Stephen Bishop 1-7; Mark Bishop 0-10 (2f); Gary Boyd 2-2; Kevin Brennan 1-4; Niall Flanagan, Ronan Burke 2-1 each; Conor Mulligan, Gerard Malone 1-1 each; Liam McVicar 0-3; Christopher Farrell (1f), Shane Burke 0-2 each; Patrick McGuigan, Declan Farrell, Kevin Atkinson, Peter McMahon 0-1 each.