Tomorrow night (Wednesday) sees a full round of football fixtures as the leagues near the half way mark. Geordie McGuckin takes a look at what is on offer in the top two divisions and gives his predictions
After s small break from the leagues and the Saffron’s demise on the national stage and their qualifier defeat at the hands of Sligo it is back to the domestic scene and a full list of games scheduled in division one and two on Wednesday evening.
The end of the opening phase approaches, and just a few games have to be completed prior to the split.
The top six in each of the divisions will proceed as section A on a single round basis (five games) with the remainder as section B on the same route in both the divisions.
Wed 21st June
Division One (8.15pm)
St Gall’s v Lamh Dhearg
St Gall’s have recovered to the positive after losing out to Cargin on their own sod and followed with back to back victories away from home at Aghagallon and Creggan.
The Milltown Blues remain in close proximity to the top, just a couple of points in arrears and they will look to remain up there as they play hosts to Lamh Dhearg this time.
The Hannahstown men, despite losing to the visiting Aghagallon on their penultimate game are still up there in close proximity to the top, just three in arrears of the top spot and will travel seeking consolidation.
This does look likely to be a good game with a home win the tentative selection.
Aldergrove v Cargin
Despite a poor start to the season and five successive defeats Aldergrove do seem to have gotten it together.
The Crumlin men have completed three wins on the trot and six points gained ensured upward movement and well away the bottom.
The St James’s men will hope to keep the winning habit here but they are set to play hosts to the top of the table as the Cargin men come calling.
The Erin’s Own men did slip up in round two of the competition but John Brennan’s men have not endured such reversal since, although they were held to a draw at St John’s.
John Brennan does seem to have his charges in good nick at present and they will travel in search of points.
Aldergrove may well prove a tough nut to crack but Cargin will start as warm favourites and they should prevail.
Rossa v Creggan
Rossa have disappointed thus far on the league trail and with just a couple of positive returns and four points gained thus far they are drifting near the bottom.
The Shaw’s road men are most certainly capable of much better and will seek a turn in the road as they play hosts to Creggan in this one.
Creggan are playing well this term and last time out’s 1-15 win over the Johnnies does bear full testament to such.
Kevin Madden’s men did come a cropper on the Shaw’s road on their last visit when they lost to St Paul’s and will hope for better this time at the neighbouring pitch.
The home side will be in search of points as they seek to add to their four point tally but Creggan may well prove as winners this time.
St John’s v Casement’s
The Johnnies are on song this term and the Whiterock road based side are within a whisker of the top spot.
Only score difference divides the Corrigan men and the top based Cargin and they will be hoping to return to winning ways here following their reversal at Creggan last time.
Portglenone based Casement’s are faring quite well at present and at the moment they are holding sixth spot and remain in sight of a place in the A section following the split.
Jude Donnelly’s men have been in form of late as a win at St Paul’s and a drawn game with St Gall’s suggests and will possibly take to road up to the west side of Belfast in quiet confidence.
The Johnnies will start as favourites and although they may not get it all their own way Paddy Nugent’s men may collect the points from a home win.
St Paul’s v Aghagallon
Shaw’s road based St Paul’s did well to gain promotion and residency of the top division again following a good 2016 season.
They have struggled to gain foothold in their new abode as yet however but did suggest better to come with an eyebrow raising 3-09 to 1-13 win gained over the visiting Creggan on their penultimate start.
Aghagallon did make the same upward trip as their hosts but although they are a couple of points ahead of the city men they remain off the pace.
The Aghagallon men did hit form when they proved as winners over the Hannahstown men lately and will travel seeking a similar return.
This looks likely to be a close one and indeed may well end up with honours even with a draw possible.
St Teresa’s v Ahoghill
Glen road based St Teresa’s are struggling to get it together at the moment and with just a single win and a draw thus far they are residing at the bottom of the pile.
They did record a good win, 0-13 to 0-02 over St Paul’s in round one of the league and they will hope to regain such form as they play hosts to St Mary’s Ahoghill this time.
Ahoghill seem the proverbial survivors in the top division and seems when backs are against the proverbial wall the Clooney men come out fighting.
The St Mary’s men have six points in the pot at present and they will travel up to the Glen road in search of more.
Another close one in prospect, with just a tentative nod going the way of the Clooney men.
Division Two (8.15pm)
St Comgall’s v St Enda’s
Although the St Comgall’s men did return from a trip to Belfast last time with the points secured to break their duck for the season this looks difficult.
The Antrim side did well to gain promotion at the end of 2016 but until that win at Ardoyne was gained last time they resided at the bottom of the pile with just a single point to show for their honest endeavours.
Morale will have been boosted in the Dunsilly men but such will be tested here as they play hosts to the table topping St Enda’s.
The Glengormley men have only lost once this term and will travel to Antrim looking for more points to secure leadership of the second grade.
The home side will be up for this one but anything other than an away win looks hard to envisage.
St Brigid’s v Dunloy
Cuchullian’s Dunloy are capable as early season form underlines but they have failed to sustain following a good getaway and a couple of wins on the first two assignments.
They have failed to retain such however and seven points gained sees them out of the top six at present and hoping for better as they travel to the in-form St Brigid’s.
The South Belfast based side have impressed of late and a strong run has seen them record a few big scores at a third position in the table.
St Brigid’s do look to have an eye on the upward and a return to the top division most likely is in focus.
The home side will start as favourites and they may well collect the points.
Tir na Nog v All Saint’s
Randalstown based Tir na Nog have proved as quite enigmatic thus far in the league continuing to max the good with the mediocre.
They do seem to have gained somewhat lately and will look to continue in such as they play hosts to All Saint’s this time.
Ballymena based All Saint’s were possibly fancied by more than a few to prove major contenders in this division at the outset of the season but they have failed to gain the upward as yet.
The Ballymena men are a little way off the pace and will look for improvement as the season does make progress.
This all South West affair is certain to be fully contested and draw is not to be ruled out at conclusion.
Glenavy v Ardoyne
St Joseph’s Glenavy are faring more than well this term and the Chapel Hill residents firing on all cylinders it seems reside second in the ratings.
They continue in form last time firing home 4-11 in a win over All saint’s and this looks a lesser assignment as bottom residing Ardoyne pay a visit to Glenavy.
Kickham’s Ardoyne did impress in their progress through the third level last term but they have found it difficult to find their way in the higher grade.
Ardoyne will travel seeking victory but the North Belfast men will most likely have to await on another occasion and a home win seems assured.
Rasharkin v Gort na Mona
St Mary’s Rasharkin struggled for the most part of 2016 but the Dreen men have got it together eventually and they are carrying on in the same mode this term.
Ten points accrued thus far sees Rasharkin in the top section in the ratings and they will look for the addition of another couple this time as the Gort na Mona men call.
The west Belfast based Gorts with just a couple of positive returns gained thus far in what has proved a disappointing season to date will travel seeking better in their quest for the upward.
Rasharkin will start as firm favourites and they should gain the day.