It is Football Championship time again this coming week-end as the 2017 version gets underway with opening round games scheduled at Senior, Intermediate, and Junior level.
The action commences on Friday evening with a senior game at Clooney as defending champions Cargin cross swords with Rossa with a couple of rounds in the Junior competition as company.
The action continues on Saturday with several more fixtures at Senior, intermediate, and Junior level with the remainder of the games fixed for prime time viewing on Sunday.
Senior Football Championship (round one)
Friday 18th Aug (Ahoghill) at 7.30pm
Erin’s Own Cargin v O’ Donovan Rossa
Defending champions Erin’s Own Cargin look to carve a new niche in their history as they look to make it three titles in a row.
The Toome men will most likely be severely tested in such ambitions and step up to meet the challenge of Rossa in this opening round.
Shaw’s road based Rossa have not taken position in the spotlight this term but Paul and Jim Close will have them fit and ready for this one.
Cargin will start as firm favourites and although passage cannot be taken for granted here John Brennan’s men may well gain the day.
Sat 19th August (Corrigan Park) at 7.00pm
St Paul’s v Lamh Dhearg
St Paul’s did endure relegation from the top grade this term but the Shaw’s road side underlined possible potential with a couple of good performances and they may well be capable of better in championship fare as the face Lamh Dhearg in this one.
The Hannahstown men seem to have hit form of late and the 2016 beaten finalists may well have been firmly focused on championship.
A win against Cargin last time looked good, and if they can replicate that form in this one they should make progress.
Sunday 20th August (Hannahstown) 1.30pm/3.30pm
St John’s v St James Aldergrove
The Johnnies have looked good this term under the watchful eye of Paddy Nugent and the Corrigan men look contenders.
It has been a while since the Whiterock residents took a senior title but they start out on the 2017 path really meaning business as they look to make progress against Crumlin based Aldergrove in round one.
The St James’s men lost their way in the latter stages of the league and paid the cost of relegation and they will look to make amends on the championship trail.
St John’s will enter the fray as firm favourites and they should prove successful.
St Gall’s v Casement’s Portglenone
Former champions St Gall’s who dominated the senior championship in recent times had to play second fiddle to Cargin in the last couple of years but the Milltown side are far from a ‘beaten docket’ as yet and they will look for a return to the podium again in 2017.
The ‘Blues’ have impressed in league fare this term under former player Sean Kelly and will seek to signal renaissance on the way sooner rather than later.
Casement’s did give St Gall’s a real run for their money in the League and under Jude Donnelly this time they will travel up to the city looking for a similar showing.
St Gall’s will start as firm favourites but they will have to be at their best if they are to progress.
St Mary’s Aghagallon v St Teresa’s (Glenavy) 7.00pm
Reigning Intermediate champions St Mary’s Aghagallon have done more than well this term back in their first season back in Division 1 and a sixth place finish was good.
They will look for a good run in the championship and will cross swords with St Teresa’s in this first round affair looking to underline improvement.
Glen road based St Teresa’s have performed with credit again this term in the top grade and they are more than capable in championship fare as advertised when they took out the Johnnies at a similar stage a few years back.
This does look a close one with just a tentative vote awarded to the St Mary’s men.
Sat 19th Aug
St Enda’s v Michael Davitt’s (Corrigan) 5.00pm
St Enda’s having finished well above Davitt’s in the ratings this term will start as firm favourites here as the Glengormley side line out against the men from Twinbrook in this one.
St Enda’s underlined current well being with a league win recorded at Moneyglass on Sunday last and if they can continue that form in this one they should make progress.
St Ergnat’s Moneyglass v St Mary’s Rasharkin (Randalstown) 7.00pm
An all South West affair here as Moneyglass and Rasharkin line out in opposition at the Randalstown arena.
Moneyglass have the better league form this term but that may well count for naught in championship fare.
Little may separate the sides at conclusion with a less than confident vote given to Moneyglass, but this one could go either way.
Sunday 20th Aug
Tir na Nog v St Brigid’s (Glenavy) 5.00pm
Randalstown based Tir na Nog have improved in the league this term and Damien Hagan’s men will look to keep on the positive trail in the championship as they meet up with St Brigid’s.
The South Belfast based St Brigid’s have disappointed slightly in the league but they are more than capable.
Another close one in prospect in this town versus city affair but the Randalstown men may just shade it.
Friday 18th Aug
St Malachy’s v St Patrick’s Lisburn (Sarsfield’s) 7.00pm
St Malachy’s with an outing in the championship and a win over Eire Og to their credit will fancy their chances again as they meet up with Lisburn based St Patrick’s.
This may well be close but the men from the ‘Markets’ may gain the day.
Sarsfield’s v Kickham’s Ardoyne (Hannahstown) 7.00pm
With the division three league title already secured most observes will agree that Sarsfield’s are on their merry way to the double.
The Paddies have already brushed O’ Donnell’s aside in a preliminary round affair but if Ardoyne can field at full strength they may well provide a stiffer test.
Sat 19th Aug
St Agnes v Mc Quillan’s (Randalstown) 7.00pm
Another close one in prospect here as North Antrim based Mc Quillan’s of Ballycastle travel up to Randalstown to meet the challenge of St Agnes from the west side of Belfast in what may well be another close encounter.
Little separates the sides in league ratings and this looks a proverbial ‘toss of a coin’ with only a tentative vote awarded to the Ballycastle men.