AIB Ulster Club Senior Football Championship Semi-Final
Clontibret v Slaughtneil, Sunday, 2.30, Omagh
Clontibret bid for an Ulster Club SFC Final place when they take on Derry champions Slaughtneil at Healy Park on Sunday.
Having edged out Scotstown in the county final, Clontibret repeated the trick against both highly-rated Down champions Kilcoo and Antrim kingpins St. Gall’s. Like Clontibret, Slaughtneil have six wins in the 2014 championship and the Robert Emmets also have the knack of winning close games, having edged both of their last two games by two points. Wins over Ballinascreen, Dungiven, Kilrea and St. Canice’s once again in the semi-finals got them through to a county final against Ballinderry, where they ended the Ulster champions’ bid for a fourth consecutive Derry title in the most dramatic circumstances, which they followed with a hard-earned win over Cavan Gaels last Sunday.
Clontibret have scored more than Slaughtneil so far (5-71, or 14.33 points per game, to 4-69, or 13.5 points per game), but they have also conceded more (4-55, an 11.17-point average, compared with 1-45, or just eight points per game).
Clontibret have a real ace in their pack in Conor McManus, who is likely to be man-marked by Chrissy McKaigue, just a couple of days before the duo head to Australia to join up with the Irish squad for the International Rules. Clontibret have other players with county experience in Vincent and Martin Corey, Dessie Mone, Conor Boyle, Colum Greenan and Paul McGuigan Paul and Gerald Bradley, while Patsy, Paul, Christopher and Gerard Bradley, Francis McEldowney, Karl McKaigue and Barry McGuigan should also be to the fore for Slaughtneil.
AIB Ulster Club Intermediate Football Championship Semi-Final
Inniskeen v Derrylin, Sunday, 12.45, Omagh
The curtain-raiser to Clontibret’s semi-final sees Inniskeen take on Derrylin.
Inniskeen, who edged out Donaghmoyne in the Monaghan IFC Final, saw their winning momentum pierced by their local rivals in last Sunday’s league semi-final, but they will still go into this one with confidence. Inniskeen won this competition in 2005 and went on to win the All-Ireland IFC title the following February, while in contrast, Derrylin’s quarter-final defeat of St. Paul’s, Lurgan was their first Ulster Club win.
Derrylin, well known as the home club of Monaghan senior manager Malachy O’Rourke, defeated Coa, Aughadrumsee and Maguiresbridge to win a first IFC title since 1997. The O’Connells needed extra-time to get through their Ulster quarter-final, while Inniskeen came from behind to pip Cootehill with a late Matthew McKenna point. Inniskeen have scored 4-58 in their five championship games so far (15.25 points per game), which is less on average than Derrylin’s 7-45 in four matches, which works out at a healthy 16.5 points. The Monaghan side have conceded just 3-39, however, (9.6 points per game), much less than their opponents’ 4-41 (13.25 points per game).
Paul Meegan’s accuracy from play and from frees will be as crucial as ever for Inniskeen, who will also be looking for big performances from Ronan and Dónal Meegan (if fit), Matthew McKenna, Anthony Keenan and Gerard McArdle. Barry Murray and Eoin Maguire have been in free-scoring form for Derrylin, who will also need former Fermanagh player Mark Murphy, Kevin McCusker and Louis and Daniel Leonard on top form.
County Monaghan Group of Credit Unions Senior Football League Semi-Final
Ballybay v Castleblayney, Sunday, 2.00, Ballybay
The first SFL semi-final sees Ballybay host Castleblayney on Sunday.
Both of these teams suffered defeat in the championship semi-finals, Ballybay have won 15 of their 18 SFL games to date, seeing them top the table, while Blayney finished strongly in their final-round game against Monaghan Harps to grab the draw they needed to advance in fourth place.
Ciarán Hanratty came off the bench to inspire Blayney to that late comeback and he could play a key role for the Faughs, along with the likes of Martin and Brendan McElroy, Dermot and Fergal Malone and Cormac Brady. Ballybay can call on five senior county players in Paul Finlay, Drew and Ryan Wylie, Christopher McGuinness and Thomas Kerr, however, and others such as Shane McGuinness, Tommy O’Neill and Shane McQuillan.
Monaghan Electrical Intermediate Football League Semi-Final
Corduff v Clones, Sunday, 2.00, Corduff
The rescheduled IFL semi-final between Corduff and Clones takes place on Sunday after last week’s postponement due to the death of Jane Kelly, grandmother of Clones players Fintan, Eoin and Ciarán.
This semi-final sees Clones make the fairly lengthy trip to Corduff for the second time in the last few weeks, with a place in the final against Donaghmoyne on offer for the winners. Corduff and Clones couldn’t be separated at the south-Monaghan venue in the last round of the league – a result which saw them end up second and third respectively. Corduff have beaten Clones twice already this year, including a one-sided IFC encounter, but for both teams, around half of their games in this hugely competitive division have been decided by just one score, so another close call would be far from a shock.
Corduff will be looking for big performances from Pádraic Keenan, Keith McEnaney, Ciarán Brennan, Jason Hand and Brendan McNally, while Clones will need Fintan Kelly, Adrian Alford, Darragh Holland and David and Darren Freeman on top form.
Meanwhile, the hotly-contested Ulster Club Ladies Intermediate Football Championship Final between Monaghan Harps is now set to be replayed in the Tyrone training grounds, Garvaghey, on Friday night at 8.15pm. The Harps were awarded the title two days after the game, having been found to have won by 1-8 to 2-4, but an appeal by the Donegal Town club was successful, meaning that the teams will have to meet again, with the winners set to play away to Clonbur from Galway in Sunday’s All-Ireland semi-final.