Previews (November 2)
Sunday is a packed day of club games, with five Monaghan teams in Ulster action, including two ladies sides in provincial finals, as well as the JFL Final and a critical SFL fixture.
AIB Ulster Club Senior Football Championship Quarter-Final
Clontibret v St. Gall’s, Sunday, 2.30, Clones
Clontibret will attempt to build on their opening Ulster Club SFC win over Kilcoo when they face St. Gall’s in Clones on Sunday.
Clontibret saw off Monaghan Harps, Latton and 2012 winners Ballybay to set up a repeat of last year’s county final, where they turned the tables on Scotstown with a storming finish at Sunday’s venue. The O’Neills again went in as underdogs to their Ulster preliminary-round game against Kilcoo in Newry, but despite playing more than half of that game with 14 men, they grabbed a dramatic victory with a last-gasp goal by Dessie Mone.
St. Gall’s defeated Ahoghill, St. Paul’s and Creggan to reach the Antrim final, where they once again saw off Cargin to make it eight consecutive county championships and 13 out of the last 14. As well as dominating their own county scene, the Belfast club have been perennial contenders on the provincial front and they beat Clontibret in a 2009 semi-final on their way to Ulster and All-Ireland silverware.
Clontibret’s 5-61 total in five SFC outings comes to 15.2 points per game, with their 4-46 averaging at 11.6 points. St. Gall’s have amassed 6-54 in four games (18 points on average), while conceding 0-37 or just 9.25 points on average.
Clontibret have two 2014 All-Star nominees in Dessie Mone and Conor McManus, who both made vital contributions last time out, while Vincent Corey, Colum Greenan and Conor Boyle will also play key roles. They will need a greater contribution from forwards other than McManus in this tricky test. St. Gall’s, who won another Kilmacud All-Ireland Sevens title this year, have CJ McGourty and Michael Pollock in good form in attack, while other players with county senior experience include Chris Kerr, Colin Brady, Seán Kelly, Aodhán Gallagher, Kevin Niblock and Anto Healy.
AIB Ulster Club Intermediate Football Championship Quarter-Final
Inniskeen v Cootehill, Sunday, 12.45, Clones
The curtain-raiser at St. Tiernach’s Park on Sunday sees Inniskeen take on Cootehill in the Ulster Club IFC.
2006 All-Ireland Intermediate champions Inniskeen beat Seán McDermotts, Clones and Corduff to qualify for the Monaghan IFC Final, where they edged a hard-fought game against local rivals Donaghmoyne. Cootehill beat Cavan Gaels, Drung, Bailieborough, Kilinkere and Ballyhaise to claim the Cavan IFC and they already have a win under their belts in the Ulster championship at the expense of Portglenone from Antrim.
Inniskeen scored 4-49 in their four championship games so far (15.25 points per game), while conceding 2-34 or 10 points on average. Cootehill’s scoring statistics are quite similar, with their 7-69 total working out at 15 points on average and their concession rate standing at 8.5 points per game (3-42 in total).
Inniskeen’s full-forward line of Paul, Ronan and Dónal Meegan has been their main source of scores, with Matthew McKenna and Anthony Keenan other key players, as well as midfielders Fergal Duffy and Gerard McArdle, who are both battling recent knocks. Enda Hessin has been in lethal form for Cootehill, with their other key men including John McCutcheon and Joshua Hayes, who both have county senior experience, and the latter’s highly-rated younger brother Tom, who captained St. Macartan’s College to a McCormack Cup win late last year. Inniskeen will need a big performance to start off on the road that saw Truagh go all the way to Croke Park in the 2013/2014 campaign.
AIB Ulster Club Junior Football Championship Quarter-Final
Drumhowan v Keady Michael Dwyers, Sunday, 12.45, Crossmaglen
Drumhowan begin another Ulster Club JFC campaign when they play Keady in Crossmaglen on Sunday.
Drumhowan struggled in the early stages of this year and they lost their championship opener to Toome after a replay, but they bounced back in style to win five games on the trot to claim a sixth Monaghan JFC title and a second in three years. Kevin Carragher’s side first saw off Éire Óg, then Oram, before dismissing the top three teams in this year’s league: Killanny, Aughnamullen and Blackhill. Keady beat Clann Éireann, Dromintee II, Crossmaglen II, Tullysaran and Collegeland to secure a quick return to intermediate, like Drumhowan.
Keady have an impressive average winning margin, boosted by their amazing second-round win where their opponents Dromintee failed to score. The Dwyers have hit 8-55 (15.8 points) and conceded 2-31 (7.4 on average) in their five matches. Drumhowan have also managed to hit more than 15 points per game (7-85 in seven), but they have leaked much more than the Armagh representatives: 3-76 or just over 12 points per game.
Stephen Renaghan, Conor Corvan, Nathan Green and Ryan McGale are central figures for the Michael Dwyers, while it will be up to Colm Lambe, Kevin and Kieran Mooney, David Millar, Darren Duffy, Anthony Mulligan and John Paul O’Neill to provide the leadership Drumhowan need.
Eurotech Junior Football League Final
Aughnamullen v Blackhill, Sunday, 2.30, Oram
Aughnamullen and Blackhill contest the JFL Final in Oram on Sunday afternoon. Both of these teams were left down in the dumps after losing to eventual winners Drumhowan in the JFC, but they have managed to regroup to earn a second chance at promotion in this final. Aughnamullen were relegated last year after six consecutive campaigns in intermediate and they were always among the front-runners to bounce straight back, even though they suffered a hugely disappointing championship semi-final defeat.
Table-toppers Aughnamullen lost just one of their first 16 league games, with their wins including a comprehensive defeat of Sunday’s opponents back in May, meaning they already had a home semi-final secured by the time they lost their last two against Blackhill and Toome. The Sarsfields went on to turn the tables on Toome in their JFL semi-final, while Blackhill got the better of Killanny. Blackhill also reached the JFC Final for the second year in a row, only to let a winning position slip away against Drumhowan. That brought the number of finals – including last year’s JFC replay – that Blackhill had failed to win in 2013 and 2014 to five between their first team and reserves, but they did claim the RFL Division Three title three weeks ago and they will hope that is a turning point for their fortunes in deciders.
Aughnamullen will be looking for big performances from the likes of Pete and Sam Dooney, Colin Clerkin, Colm Flanagan and Shane Conlon, while Ryan, Dónal and Anthony Courtney, Michael Geehan, Colin Woods and Dermot Daly are among the main men for Blackhill, who may be without JFC Final goal-scorer Ciarán Courtney due to the injury he sustained in that match.
Ulster Club Ladies Senior Football Championship Final
Donaghmoyne v Termon, Sunday, 3.00, Enniskillen
Donaghmoyne bid for a fourth consecutive provincial title when they face Termon in Enniskillen on Sunday.
Three-time All-Ireland winners Donaghmoyne, who fell just short of retaining that title at the last attempt, came through tough games against Tyrone and Armagh champions St. Macartan’s and Clann Éireann, which should stand to them in what is set to be another testing encounter. Termon have run up a huge 15-21 in their wins over Newtownbutler (Fermanagh) and Castlewellan (Down).
Donaghmoyne’s vastly-experienced team includes the likes of Sharon and Cora Courtney, Cathriona McConnell, Amanda Casey, Niamh Callan and Linda Martin, as they bid to get the better of a strong Termon side, who took them to a replay this time last year. Geraldine McLaughlin has been in prolific form for the Donegal champions, who can also call on players of the calibre of Róisín Friel, Róisín McCafferty, Nicole McLaughlin and Maureen O’Donnell.
Ulster Club Ladies Intermediate Football Championship Final
Monaghan Harps v Four Masters, Sunday, 1.15, Enniskillen
Monaghan Harps are in the Ulster Club Ladies IFC Final against Four Masters in the first game at Brewster Park on Sunday.
The Harps – former All-Ireland Club SFC winners – won the Monaghan Intermediate title at the expense of Inniskeen and they have knocked out Silverbridge of Armagh and Tyrone champions Omagh in Ulster. Donegal Town outfit Four Masters have survived a tough route to this final, getting past Ballymartin (Down), Lisnaskea (Fermanagh) and Ballinascreen (Derry).
Yvonne Connell, Muireann and Eimear O’Rourke and Jennifer Treanor are key players for the Harps, while Kelly Lacey, Kate Keaney, Kate McGowan and Casey Harvey will be expected to lead the Four Masters challenge.
A place in the semi-finals of the County Monaghan Group of Credit Unions Senior Football League is up for grabs when Castleblayney host Monaghan Harps on Sunday.