Previews (November 29-30)
The club scene is due to close for 2014 with three finals over the weekend.
AIB Ulster Club Intermediate Football Championship Final
Inniskeen v Warrenpoint, Sunday, 1.30, Armagh
Inniskeen bid to win their second Ulster IFC title when they take on Warrenpoint at the Athletic Grounds on Sunday, prior to the senior final.
The Grattans saw off Seán McDermotts, Clones and Corduff to set up a county final against local rivals Donaghmoyne, which they won by the narrowest of margins. Inniskeen then began their Ulster campaign with another one-point win over Cavan side Cootehill and they were fairly convincing winners last time out in their semi-final against Derrylin from Fermanagh. They face a step-up on Sunday against recent Ulster IFC runners-up Warrenpoint.
Free-scoring Warrenpoint defeated St. John Bosco, Bredagh, Saul, St. John’s and Ballymartin to win their second Down IFC title in three years. Warrenpoint started their Ulster campaign with a narrow win over Dungannon, who had turned over a highly-rated Trillick team in the Tyrone final, and the St. Peter’s side then stepped up a gear or two to dismiss the challenge of Donegal champions Cloughaneely.
Warrenpoint have fairly fresh memories of Ulster final day, as they reached this stage as recently as 2012, when they lost a free-flowing game after extra-time against Tyrone’s Cookstown, who went on to claim All-Ireland honours. Inniskeen’s predecessors as Monaghan IFC winners, Truagh, of course, followed that up by clinching provincial and national titles, so the county’s pedigree at this level is strong. The south-Monaghan side can call on five of their 2005/2006 All-Ireland winners, namely Michael Fitzpatrick, Fergal Duffy, Michael Lennon and Paul and Ronan Meegan.
Inniskeen’s top three scorers in the 2014 championship are Meegans, led by former county senior Paul, who has been in devastating form, with Dónal and Ronan also to play big parts if fit. Matthew McKenna, Gerard McArdle and Fergal Duffy will take the fight to Warrenpoint around the middle, while at the back, Colm Meegan, Anthony Keenan and Alan Ryan have big parts to play.
Warrenpoint have a star forward of their own in Ross McGarry, with the support of players like Donagh McAleenan, Micheál O’Hare, Ciarán McCartan and Ryan McAleenan. Down senior Ryan Boyle and his brother John both went off injured against Cloughaneely, but are expected to be back in contention this weekend.
County Monaghan Group of Credit Unions Senior Football League Final
Castleblayney v Scotstown, Saturday, 6.00, Emyvale
The first of the weekend’s two league finals is the SFL decider under lights in Emyvale on Saturday evening.
Castleblayney have a bit of momentum going into Saturday’s game, having clinched a semi-final place in the dying seconds of the last round before ending their poor recent record against Ballybay to move within one win of a first league title since 2000. Holders Scotstown relinquished their SFC title last month, but they did win against Clontibret on an identical scoreline in last Sunday’s SFL semi-final. These teams have met three times this year: a championship semi-final where Scotstown stepped it up in the second half to advance, as well as a win apiece in the league.
Even in the likely absence of injured county men, Kieran Hughes and Shane Carey, Scotstown should have Darren Hughes back from International Rules duty Down Under, to boost a side already containing Conor McCarthy, Rory Beggan, James Turley, Dónal Morgan, Francis Caulfield and Mark Duffy. Blayney’s chances rest on the performances of players like Dermot and Fergal Malone, Martin and Brendan McElroy, Ciarán Hanratty and Cormac Brady.
Monaghan Electrical Intermediate Football League Final
Corduff v Donaghmoyne, Sunday, 2.00, Aughnamullen
The IFL Final, was postponed last week due to the death of a grandmother of Donaghmoyne players Niall and Barney Kelly, goes ahead this Sunday afternoon.
Both of these clubs had their championship hopes ended in the latter stages by Inniskeen, who came from behind against Corduff in their semi-final, before edging the decider against Donaghmoyne, who gained a measure of revenge in their league semi-final. Corduff, who shared top spot in the table with the Grattans, had their last-four clash a week later, when they pipped Clones.
It was honours even from these teams’ league clashes this year, with the away side coming out on top narrowly on both occasions.
Donaghmoyne will be looking for big performances from the likes of Rory Woods, Pádraig Donaghy, Frank Markey, Christopher Deery and Mikey Murnaghan, while Pádraic Keenan, Keith McEnaney, Jason Hand, Brendan McNally and Ciarán Brennan are among the main men for Corduff.
Another keenly-contested encounter is on the cards, especially with a long-awaited promotion to senior the prize for the winners.