The Senior Hurling Championship Final takes centre stage this Sunday evening, as Castleblayney and Inniskeen renew their rivalry. With club fixtures getting back into the swing of things after the two-week break, there is also plenty of league action over the weekend.
Silver Hill Foods Senior Hurling Championship Final
Castleblayney v Inniskeen, Sunday, 6.30, Aughnamullen
Castleblayney and Inniskeen contest Sunday’s Silver Hill Foods Senior Hurling Championship as the undisputed ‘big two’ in Monaghan hurling. Like Kilkenny and Tipperary in recent All-Ireland SHC Finals, this is a third county final in a row for these teams.
Inniskeen won their first ever SHC in 2010 with a famous victory over Blayney, but Blayney lifted their 25th title last year before going on to reach the Ulster Club Intermediate decider, where they lost to a strong Middletown side. Both teams have reached this stage once again in convincing style. In the new group system, Blayney and Inniskeen both defeated Clontibret, Truagh, Carrickmacross and Monaghan Harps to secure the top two places, before Blayney won by 0-15 to 1-7 at Páirc Grattan in the last round. Blayney had a comfortable win over Truagh in the semi-finals, while Inniskeen had a tougher test in their defeat of Clontibret. Blayney, who are unbeaten in competitive action in Monaghan this year, have already beaten Inniskeen in the Development Hurling League Final back in May.
Castleblayney have a team and panel packed with players who have SHC medals and county experience. Mickey McHugh will again be expected to lead the scoring, but the likes of Hugh Byrne, Barry Reilly, Brian McGuigan, Stephen Forde and Fergal Rafter can also chip in, like they did against Truagh when McHugh wasn’t on top of his game. Gary Boyd is the main man around the middle of the field, while Peter and Mark Treanor and Paul Murphy should lead the back-line.
Inniskeen fielded a full-forward line of three Meegans – Ronan, Paul and Donal – against Clontibret and that trio have the potential to rack up scores, with the help of half-forwards Martin Murphy and Michael Lennon. Trevor Hilliard and David McGahon make up a strong and combative midfield partnership, with Pauric Dowdall and Séamus Loftus anchoring the defence. Both sides also have county goalkeepers; Inniskeen in the shape of the experienced Gerard Ruddy and Blayney in young Ronan McAteer.
A close game – more like the 2010 encounter than last year’s – is expected, but Castleblayney look poised to lift the Mick Quigley Cup for the 12th time since 1999.
The Senior, Intermediate and Junior Football Leagues resume on Sunday.
Drumlin Group of Credit Unions Senior Football League leaders Ballybay are away to Monaghan Harps, while nearest challengers Clontibret and Castleblayney are away to Latton and Magheracloone respectively. Scotstown will bid to continue their recent surge in form when they host neighbours Truagh, while last year’s promoted teams Carrickmacross and Currin go head-to-head.
Monaghan Electrical Intermediate Football League front-runners Doohamlet have a home game against third-placed Tyholland, while fellow form team Rockcorry also have home advantage against Corduff and Donaghmoyne take on Seán McDermotts.
Eurotech Junior Football League table-toppers Emyvale host Killeevan on Sunday, while Drumhowan and Clones contest a dress-rehearsal for their upcoming championship semi-final and Killanny make the trip to Smithborough to play Éire Óg. The JFL continues on Wednesday, when Emyvale, Aghabog and Killanny host Éire Óg, Clones and Oram respectively.
The Maguire Transport Minor Football Championships begin on Tuesday evening. The competitions are being played using group systems this year, for the first time. Killanny host Monaghan Harps in Division One Group A, while the Group B fixture sees Clontibret go up against league leaders Scotstown.
In Division Two, Latton and Seán McDermotts are the hosts against Magheracloone and Donaghmoyne respectively in Group A, while Emyvale play Rock Sarsfields and Truagh entertain Cremartin in Group B.
Two amalgamated sides, St. Patrick’s and Cúchulains Sarsfields square up in Division Three Group A, as well as the meeting of Inniskeen and Tyholland, while St. Tiarnach’s welcome Blackhill to Smithborough in Group B and Corduff go up against Doohamlet.
There are a couple of rescheduled games down for decision in the Platinum Tanks Reserve Football Leagues on Wednesday, when Castleblayney meet Clontibret in Division One and Corduff travel to Drumhowan in Division Two.
The Gerry’s Prepared Veg. juvenile competitions are back with a bang, with games in the Under-14 Football Leagues and Under-16 and Under-12 Hurling Leagues spread out over the next week.