With the county minor footballers in the Ulster final on Sunday, there is no club action on that day, but there is still plenty coming up this week, including Senior Hurling Championship semi-finals and Under-21 Football League finals.
Silver Hill Foods Senior Hurling Championship Semi-Finals
Castleblayney v Truagh, Thursday, 7.30, Monaghan
Clontibret v Inniskeen, Thursday, 7.30, Aughnamullen
The SHC semi-finals take centre stage on Thursday evening. Defending champions Castleblayney will be hot favourites to advance past Truagh at Gavan Duffy Park. Blayney, who have already won the Monaghan Development Hurling League this year and have been competing well in the Armagh senior league, won all five of their group games in the newly-revamped SHC. Truagh had wins over Monaghan Harps and Carrickmacross, which saw them finish fourth.
Blayney have an impressive mix of experience and youth, with the likes of Mickey and Jim McHugh, Peter and Mark Treanor, Paul Murphy, Brian McGuigan and Gary Boyd set to play key roles. They could also have Deaglán Crowe back after his return from foreign shores, as well as Fergal Rafter, who is back after completing his Leaving Cert. Truagh will need Conor McKenna, Conor McGinnity and Niall and Aidan Coyle on top form if they are to have any hope of causing what would be a massive shock. Blayney had a comfortable win over the same opposition at the same stage last year and they should repeat the trick this time.
Inniskeen will also be strongly favoured to return to the county final when they take on Clontibret. The Grattans, who won the title for the first time in 2010 before losing to Blayney in last year’s decider, won their first four matches this year and even though they lost to Blayney last time out, that was still enough to finish second in the group. Victories over Truagh, Carrickmacross and Monaghan Harps handed Clontibret, who lost to Carrickmacross in the first round in 2011, third place.
Trevor Hilliard, Paul, Ronan and Donal Meegan, Séamus Loftus, Pauric Dowdall and Martin Murphy should be to the fore for Inniskeen, while Noel Morgan, Shane McNally, Fergal Greenan and Cormac Connolly are crucial to Clontibret’s chances of upsetting the odds. Inniskeen should have enough in the tank to make a third SHC final in a row.
* There is also a rescheduled Silver Hill Foods Senior Hurling League game between Monaghan Harps and Inniskeen on Monday.
McElvaney Recycling Under-21 Football League Division One Final
Emerald Sarsfields v Truagh, Monday, 7.30, Monaghan
A first ever Under-21 Football League Division One title is the prize on offer for both Emerald Sarsfields and Truagh in Monday’s final at Gavan Duffy Park.
Truagh finished second in the northern section of the group phase after beating Monaghan Harps and getting a walkover from Clontibret, either side of a defeat against neighbours Scotstown. They then beat Castleblayney in the quarter-finals and edged past Latton in the last four. Blackhill and Oram amalgamation Emerald Sarsfields lost their opening match in a high-scoring shoot-out against Latton, but a convincing win over Blayney was enough for them to finish joint-second in the southern section. They then eased past Monaghan Harps to set up a semi-final against Scotstown, which they won by the narrowest of margins.
Despite the likely absence of injured duo Ryan Courtney and Christopher McGuinness, Emerald Sarsfields can call on players of the calibre of Cathal Crowe, Pauric Graham, Philip Donnelly, Ciarán Courtney and Ryan McGuinness. Truagh, who will be hoping to add this trophy to last year’s MFC title, are without Daniel McKenna (in the USA), but they will be looking for big performances from Christopher, Pádraig and Seán McKenna, as well as John McCarron and Eoghan Kelly. A close game is on the cards, but Emerald Sarsfields have already taken some big scalps and are capable of finishing the job.
McElvaney Recycling Under-21 Football League Division Two Final
Ballybay v Magheracloone, Monday, 7.30, Cremartin
The Division Two decider sees Ballybay and Magheracloone go head-to-head in Cremartin.
Ballybay lost their first game in Division Two (North), but a comprehensive defeat of Tyholland and a draw with Finn Rua saw them finish second in the group and wins over Carrickmacross and Killanny have got them to this stage. Magheracloone also lost their opener against Killanny, but they beat Carrickmacross and got a walkover from Donaghmoyne to finish second in the southern section and they got past Finn Rua and Emyvale to qualify for the final.
Ballybay will be looking to Thomas and James Kerr, Brent Wylie, Evan Rutledge and Shane McGuinness (if fit) to lead the way, while Magheracloone will need Alan McCahey, Jamie Kieran, Andrew Brady, Daniel Irwin and Paul McArdle to hit top gear. Ballybay may just have too much for the south-Monaghan men.
The Senior, Intermediate and Junior Football Leagues continue with full rounds of games this weekend.
First up is the Eurotech Junior Football League on Friday evening, where leaders Emyvale are at home to Aghabog. Their nearest rivals Clones and Drumhowan are up against Killanny and Oram respectively, while Éire Óg and Killeevan meet in a dress rehearsal for their upcoming championship quarter-final.
There are another two games to be played on Wednesday. The first two teams to have qualified for the JFC semi-finals – Emyvale and Drumhowan – go head-to-head, while Aghabog have home advantage against Killanny.
It’s top versus (joint) bottom in the Drumlin Group of Credit Unions Senior Football League on Saturday when Ballybay host Currin. Elsewhere, there is a game between the sides that share second place – Carrickmacross and Clontibret – a local derby between Monaghan Harps and Scotstown, a renewal of the rivalry between Magheracloone and Latton and a match between Castleblayney and Truagh in Oram.
Magheracloone and Carrickmacross have to make the lengthy trips north to face Truagh and Scotstown respectively on Wednesday, while Monaghan Harps go to Latton and Castleblayney make the journey to Currin. The other game sees Clontibret entertain Ballybay.
Table-toppers Doohamlet will attempt to keep their fine form going in the Monaghan Electrical Intermediate Football League away to Cremartin on Saturday, while Rockcorry will also protect their recent good run when they travel to Aughnamullen. Elsewhere, there are all-south-Monaghan games between Toome and Donaghmoyne and Inniskeen and Corduff as well as the all north-county clash of Tyholland and Seán McDermotts. Tyholland have a home game against Rockcorry in the only fixture on Wednesday.
There are no games in the next week in the Platinum Tanks Reserve Football League Division One and just one in Division Two, where Cremartin face Killeevan on Wednesday. Oram have two chances left to secure a semi-final place in the RFL Division Three as they host Scotstown on Sunday and Seán McDermotts on Wednesday. The final group games in Division Four see Monaghan Harps take on Blackhill on Friday and Truagh make the short trip to Emyvale on Saturday.
The action in the Gerry’s Prepared Veg. juvenile competitions is focused on the Under-16 and Under-12 Football Leagues, while there is also one game in the Under-16 Hurling League.