Monaghan’s All-Ireland Under-21 FC semi-final on Saturday takes centre stage in another busy weekend.
Eirgrid All-Ireland Under-21 Football Championship Semi-Final
Cork v Monaghan, Saturday, 4.30, Tullamore
Ulster U-21 champions Monaghan travel to Tullamore this Saturday to take on Munster champions Cork.
Having seen off Fermanagh and Armagh to reach the Ulster final, Monaghan won the title for the first time since 1999 with a hard-earned win over All-Ireland champions Tyrone. After one-sided wins over Clare and Waterford, goals by Brian Coakley, Seán Powter and Seán White saw Cork dethrone a highly-rated Kerry side in the Munster final.
Cork are at the top of the All-Ireland Under-21 FC roll of honour with 11 titles, the most recent of which came in 2009.
Monaghan, who had 13 ever-present players in their Ulster run, will once again need to have their senior panellists McAnespie, McCarthy and McGinn on top form, as well as Dessie Ward, Barry Kerr, Mikey Murnaghan and team captain Kevin Loughran. Cork will be looking for big performances from the likes of Peter Kelleher, Stephen Cronin, Coakley, Powter, White, Kieran Histon and Michael Hurley.
Ulster Minor Football League Semi-Final
Monaghan v Donegal, Saturday, 11.30, Clones
Monaghan bid to qualify for their Ulster MFL Final since 2013 when they face Donegal at St. Tiarnach’s Park on Saturday.
Wins over Down, Armagh and Cavan saw Monaghan finish top of Group A of the Ulster MFL and they now face a Donegal side who took second place in Group B after comfortable victories against Antrim, Derry and Fermanagh and a narrow loss to table-toppers Tyrone.
Micheál Bannigan, David Garland, Josh Walsh, Owen Quinn, Frank Connolly, Robbie McAlister and Conor Leonard could play key roles for Monaghan, while Jason McGee, Jack Flannery, JD Boyle, Niall O’Donnell, Eoghan McGettigan and Odhrán Ferry are among the main men for Donegal.
Ulster U-17 Football League Semi-Final
Monaghan v Donegal, Saturday, 11.30, Cloghan
Cloghan is the venue for the Under-17 Jim McGuigan Cup semi-final, which also sees Monaghan face Donegal.
Monaghan, who are backboned by players like the prolific Oran McElligott, as well as Cormac O’Connor, Jamie Shields and Hugh McGinn, beat Down and Cavan, either side of a defeat against Armagh, to top Group A, while Donegal’s Group B results mirrored those of their minors: comfortable victories against Antrim, Derry and Fermanagh and a narrow loss to table-toppers Tyrone.
Ulster Minor Hurling Shield Semi-Final
Donegal v Monaghan, Friday, 8.00, Ballybofey
Before all that, Monaghan’s minor hurlers are also up against Donegal when they travel to Ballybofey for Friday night’s Ulster shield semi-final, where the visitors will bid to go one step further than last year.
The County Monaghan Group of Credit Unions Senior Football League continues on Sunday, including local derbies between Scotstown and Truagh and Castleblayney and Ballybay. Sunday’s other SFL games are Latton v Monaghan Harps and Carrickmacross v Clontibret, while the game between Doohamlet and Magheracloone has been moved to Monday evening due to Saturday’s All-Ireland Under-21 semi-final.
Inniskeen v Rockcorry has also been delayed until Monday night, with the other four Monaghan Electrical Intermediate Football League games set to go ahead on Sunday. Corduff and Killanny face long journeys to Currin and Emyvale respectively, while Aughnamullen host Tyholland and leaders Donaghmoyne take on Cremartin.
The top two clash in the Eurotech Junior Football League when Seán McDermotts welcome Drumhowan to Threemilehouse, while the other games are all fairly local derbies: Blackhill v Oram, Clones v Aghabog, Corduff v Toome and Éire Óg v Scotstown.
Minor Football League Division One table-toppers Truagh and Aughnamullen travel to Corduff and Scotstown respectively on Tuesday, while Magheracloone host St. Patrick’s and Clontibret meet Monaghan Harps.
Killanny are the early pace-setters in Division Two ahead of Tuesday’s game away to Na Mullaí Sarsfields, while Emyvale, Castleblayney and Patrick Emmets are at home to Donaghmoyne, Inniskeen and Carrickmacross.
Division Three joint-leaders Latton and Tyholland go head-to-head, with Doohamlet up against Seán McDermotts and Cremartin taking on Rockcorry.
There is also action in all four divisions of the Platinum Tanks Reserve Football Leagues on Wednesday. Division 1A leaders Clontibret face Latton, while Monaghan Harps play Magheracloone and Truagh make the short trip to Scotstown. Castleblayney and Ballybay clash in Division 1B, where the other fixtures are Aughnamullen v Donaghmoyne and Cremartin v Emyvale.
Seán McDermotts and Doohamlet share first place in Division Two ahead of their meeting, while Blackhill and Rockcorry host Drumhowan and Tyholland respectively. Éire Óg are on their own on top of Division Three as they make the short journey to Clones, with Carrickmacross going to neighbours Killanny and Oram travelling to Inniskeen.
Round two of the Silver Hill Foods Development Hurling League on Thursday sees Castleblayney and Carrickmacross visit Truagh and Monaghan Harps respectively. The Minor Hurling League starts on Sunday with Monaghan Harps v Castleblayney and Carrickmacross v Cootehill.
The busy schedule in the Gerry’s Prepared Veg. juvenile competitions continues this week.
The Under-14 Football Championships continue this weekend. Castleblayney and Carrickmacross contest Monday’s U-14 Hurling Championship Final, when there is U-14 Hurling League action for the other clubs.
The Under-12 Football Spring Leagues are also on the agenda this weekend, followed by Under-16 Football League action on Sunday and Thursday.