A very busy weekend beckons, with no less than 11 games between the Senior, Intermediate and Junior Football Championships and the Senior Hurling Championship, as well as a number of league matches.
Universal Graphics Junior Football Championship First Round
Emyvale v Oram, Friday, 8.00, Cremartin
Emyvale and Oram will attempt to build on preliminary-round wins when they contest this JFC first-round match on Friday night.
Emyvale had a fairly comfortable win over Killeevan in the first round, while Oram caused arguably the result of the club championships so far with a fully-deserved defeat of Clones. Emyvale are joint-top of the league and have already had a six-point win over Oram, who are one of three teams on seven points in a congested mid-table. Oram had been on a slide down the table before that defeat of Clones, but they also beat Killeevan in their last league match.
Martin McAree, Daniel McMahon, John Flannery, Robbie McHugh and Gregory Devlin are among the main men for Emyvale, while Pauric Graham, Ryan McGuinness, Cathal Crowe, Lorcan Keenan and Stephen Mone should be to the fore for Oram. Forewarned should be forearmed, however, for Emyvale, who are tipped to advance.
Gormley uPVC Senior Football Championship First Round
Castleblayney v Magheracloone, Saturday, 6.15, Inniskeen
Clontibret v Latton, Saturday, 8.00, Inniskeen
The Gormley uPVC Senior Football Championship moves up a gear with this attractive double-header at Páirc Grattan on Saturday evening, involving four of the leading contenders.
First up is the meeting of Castleblayney and Magheracloone. These teams are separated by just two points in the Senior Football League, but Magheracloone’s recent run of good form has moved them up to second in the table, four places above Blayney, who they defeated in Crossmaglen in April. Magheracloone have consistently been in the shake-up in the championship in the last number of years, including last year when they reached the semi-finals, but they are still stuck on one in the roll-of-honour, while Blayney have to go back to 2003 for their last Mick Duffy Cup and 2007 for their last SFC Final appearance.
Magheracloone have lost key players like Gavin and Francie Doogan and Pete Ward in recent times, but they can still call on the likes of Damien Freeman, James Ward, Paudie Finnegan and Paul Farnan, while they will be hoping that Tommy Freeman can put his hamstring troubles behind him to play a full part. Blayney are without Dermot Malone, who has gone to the USA for the summer, but they have quality players like Ciarán Hanratty, Martin McElroy, Cormac Brady, Keith Hill and Francis Moore. If Tommy Freeman can play the full game, then Magheracloone can come through this one.
Part two of Saturday’s action is the meeting of the two teams who have shared the last six county titles evenly between them. Latton continued their golden era by winning the championship last year, but Clontibret will have all guns blazing in an attempt to show they have what it takes to dethrone the champions, especially after they lost in a scrappy encounter between these sides last year.
Latton showed determination and spirit to win all their SFC games by narrow margins last year, while Clontibret exited at the quarter-final after losing to Latton and Magheracloone by similarly narrow margins. Going by this year’s league table, another closely-contested game is on the cards, as both clubs have ten points, leaving them joint-third.
Latton have an experienced spine to their team, made up of Edmund Lennon, Kieran Duffy, Owen Lennon, Aidan Farmer, Bernard O’Brien and Hugh McElroy, while Owen Duffy and Owen and Shane Coyle should also play big parts. Conor McManus, Dessie Mone, Vincent and Martin Corey, Colum Greenan and Paul McGuigan are likely to play key roles for Clontibret. Latton had five points to spare in their most recent league clash and while this one is likely to be closer, the O’Rahillys can once again edge through.
Universal Graphics Junior Football Championship
Fergal O’Hanlons v Killeevan, Sunday, 12.30, Smithborough
Killeevan should run up a confidence-boosting score when they play Fergal O’Hanlons in the JFC back door on Sunday.
Killeevan lost out to Emyvale in the opening round, but they will be expected to cruise past an O’Hanlons team that were on the wrong end of a rout against Drumhowan, with Noel Smith, Ian Larmer, Vincent Martin and Darren Quigley likely to be among the scorers.
Universal Graphics Junior Football Championship
Aghabog v Killanny, Sunday, 2.30, Oram
Aghabog and Killanny put their JFC hopes on the line on Sunday afternoon in Oram.
Both sides suffered disappointing defeats in the first round, when Aghabog lost to Éire Óg and Killanny were beaten by Blackhill. These teams are both on eight points in the Junior Football League, part of a three-way tie for third place, while Killanny won by the minimum at home to Aghabog on the opening day of the season. Aghabog, who were edged out by eventual winners Cremartin in last year’s JFC semi-finals, have a game in hand, however.
Seán and Shane O’Brien, Gary McBride, Aidan Brady and Martin Fox should lead the way for Aghabog, while Killanny will need big performances from Peter Dooley, Ronan and Tiernan Duffy, Eddie Markey and Cian Wakely. There won’t be much between them, but Aghabog should be just too strong.
McGuigan Builders Intermediate Football Championship First Round
Aughnamullen v Tyholland, Sunday, 2.30, Toome
The only IFC game this weekend is Sunday’s first-round meeting of Aughnamullen and Tyholland, two teams who have been going well so far in 2012.
Aughnamullen and Tyholland each have 12 points from nine games in the Intermediate Football League, which has them in joint-second place alongside Rockcorry and Cremartin, who have both played two extra games. Tyholland won by five points at home to Sunday’s opponents in their most recent league game and they also edged past them in the IFC quarter-finals last year before losing to eventual double-winners Carrickmacross in the semis.
Gary McQuaid has struggled with injuries so far this year, but Tyholland will hope to have him available for Sunday, along with county players Karl O’Connell and Ronan McNally, while Dermot Coyle and Raymond Ronaghan should be the main score-getters. Aughnamullen will need big performances from Pete and Sam Dooney, Colm Flanagan, Edmond McArdle, Mark Meegan and Chris Keenan. This game should go to the wire, but Tyholland get a tentative nod to battle through.
Gormley uPVC Senior Football Championship Preliminary Round Replay
Ballybay v Carrickmacross, Sunday, 6.30, Clontibret
Gormley uPVC Senior Football Championship First Round
Currin v Scotstown, Sunday, 8.00, Clontibret
The weekend’s championship action concludes with another SFC double-bill in Clontibret on Sunday evening, starting with the preliminary-round replay between Ballybay and Carrickmacross.
The teams finished all-square three weeks ago, but Ballybay will be expected to come through at the second attempt. The Pearse Brothers, who lost narrowly to Latton in semi-finals in both league and championship last year, have led the way all year in the SFL, having gone unbeaten until a recent defeat against Magheracloone, when they were forced to field an understrength team. Carrick also started the league well, quickly adapting after being promoted, but three straight defeats have seen them drop into mid-table.
Ballybay will be able to welcome Paul Finlay and Ryan Wylie back into the team, while Drew Wylie, Christopher McGuinness, Fergal Smyth, Thomas Kerr and Thomas O’Neill are also central figures for them. Carrick were already without Mark and Seán Downey and Gary McEnaney for the drawn game and although they will have Stephen Gollogly back, they have also lost Peter O’Hanlon to America for the summer. The Emmets will need Gollogly, Mark McNally, James Conlon and Cillian Cromwell on form. Ballybay were far from their best last time out, but they should have enough improvement in them to set up a first-round meeting with Monaghan Harps.
Last year’s runners-up Scotstown will be fancied to make a winning start to this year’s competition when they face Currin in the final game of the weekend.
It is a huge occasion for Currin in their first championship game since their long-awaited promotion last year, but they will be up against it despite the league standings which show Scotstown level with them at the bottom of the table. Currin made a bright start to life in the senior ranks, but they have struggled in recent matches. Scotstown have been far from their best to date, but are capable of turning it on for the championship, like they did last year when they put indifferent league form behind them to reach the final, where they lost narrowly to Latton.
Scotstown have five Monaghan senior panellists – captain Darren Hughes and his brother Kieran (who suffered concussion last Sunday), James Turley, Donal Morgan and Rory Beggan – as well as former county men Francis Caulfield and Mark Duffy and county Under-21 Shane Carey. Currin will need Dick and Ben Clerkin, Stephen Smyth, Philip O’Callaghan and Ciarán and Conor McCaffrey at their best, particularly as this game looks set to come too soon for star forward Jack McCarron, who has missed this season to date in his recovery from a shoulder operation. Anything other than a Scotstown win here would be a major shock.
Defending champions Castleblayney will be expected to continue their good start to this year’s Silver Hill Foods Senior Hurling Championship when they travel to Monaghan Harps on Thursday. Blayney already have two convincing wins to their name, while the Harps have yet to take a point. Carrickmacross make the trip to the north of the county to play Truagh in a bid for a second win in a week for the Emmets. Inniskeen, who have joined Blayney in winning their first two games with ease, are at home to Clontibret on Monday.
Doohamlet will seek to protect their five-point lead at the top of the Monaghan Electrical Intermediate Football League when they travel to Corduff on Sunday, while one of the teams involved in a four-way tie for second place, Cremartin, are also in action at home to Seán McDermotts, who have won their last two games to move off the bottom. Meanwhile, local bragging rights will be up for grabs when Inniskeen host Donaghmoyne. Another of Doohamlet’s nearest challengers, Aughnamullen, are away to bottom club Toome on Wednesday evening.
Drumhowan entertain Blackhill in the Eurotech Junior Football League on Sunday and there are another three games on the agenda for Wednesday evening, when co-leaders Clones have a local derby at home to Killeevan, while Éire Óg take on Aghabog in a repeat of their recent championship clash and Killanny play hosts to Oram.
The final round of the GRM Minor Football League Division One takes place on Tuesday, with the last top-four place still up for grabs. Clontibret are in pole position to qualify ahead of their game away to leaders Scotstown, while Monaghan Harps need to win at home to Carrickmacross and hope the O’Neills slip up. Scotstown and Carrick have both already qualified, as have Castleblayney, who are up against Killanny.
Meanwhile, the semi-finals in the other two divisions are down for decision. Emyvale and Donaghmoyne, who finished joint-top of the MFL Division Two, have home advantage against Latton and Magheracloone respectively. In Division Three, St. Patrick’s (Ballybay and Drumhowan) welcome Inniskeen to Pearse Park, while Blackhill host Corduff.
There is a full round of games in the Platinum Tanks Reserve Football League Division One next Wednesday evening, including a meeting between the top two teams, Castleblayney and Scotstown. Third-placed Monaghan Harps are at home to Tyholland, while Clontibret face Latton and Magheracloone make the long trip to Truagh.
In Division Two on the same evening, Doohamlet make the short journey to Ballybay, while Carrickmacross are up against Drumhowan.
The McElvaney Recycling Under-21 Football Leagues continue on Sunday and Monday. First, Truagh host Monaghan Harps in Division One (North) on Sunday, before Aughnamullen and Latton take on Emerald Sarsfields and Castleblayney respectively in Division One (South) on Monday. Ballybay and Emyvale will be expected to have it their own way against Finn Rua and Tyholland in Division Two (North), while Carrickmacross and Killanny and Magheracloone and Donaghmoyne go head-to-head in Division Two (South).
There are also games in the coming week in the Gerry’s Prepared Veg. Under-16 and Under-14 Football and Under-16 and Under-12 Hurling Leagues.