Junior Hurling Championship
Gort na Móna v St Paul’s
Belfast rivals Gort na Móna and St Pauls will battle it out at Corrigan Park on Saturday evening for a place in the Junior Hurling Final in another game that is hard to call. When the teams met in the league back in June Gort na Móna got the better of their rivals by 1-16 to 1-11 but on overall form in the league this season there hasn’t been a lot between them with the Shaw’s Road outfit actually three points ahead of their rivals with the same number of games played.
It is hard to believe that just two years ago Gort na Móna took Creggan to extra time in the semi-final of the Intermediate Championship, a Creggan side who went on to capture not only the Antrim title but also the Ulster crown. With a little luck that day the Turf Lodge men could have took a step towards those titles themselves, but things have slipped since them. However their win over Cushendun in a thrilling quarter-final three weeks ago showed that they can compete with anyone in this division. With former county player Dessie McClean back in the ranks and they liked of Mark Ward and Thomas and Patrick McCaffrey providing the ammunition Gort na Móna are a real threat.
St Paul’s have blown hot and cold this season but they ran Creggan to seven points on Monday evening in the league, a Creggan side who face county champions Loughgiel in the Senior Championship this weekend. Gortanmona on the other had took a real pasting form St Enda’s, though it is hard to tell the strength of the line-outs in these games, though you would imagine that both teams were fielding as near full strength as possible with championship less than a week away. If I were take a gamble I would probably go for Gort na Móna, but in truth I haven’t really seen enough of either team this season to make an informed judgement.
Shane O’Neill’s Glenarm v Con Magees, Glenravel
Glenarm’s win over St Teresa’s in their quarter final and their recent run of good form in the league and Junior Feis will see them start favourites in the second semi-final against Glenravel on Sunday in Armoy. The Feystown outfit were slow to start against St Teresa’s in the that quarter final in Ballymena three weeks ago but once they got going they controlled the game and ended up posting an impressive 4-23 into the bargain. With last year’s county minor Daniel Black it top form from frees and play and former county player Darren Hamill back to near his best following a long lay-off through injury and Dylan McLaughlin proving a real handful for defences in the league Glenarm have a really potent forward division which will take a lot of stopping.
Glenravel have been disappointing this season with only four wins to date in the league. However they have the potential to do a lot better and with former Loughgiel star Marty Scullion now lining out in the green and white they have a player who knows all about the big occasion. Scullion his currently nursing a broken finger but I would be surprised if he didn’t make an appearance at some stage on Sunday. Veteran forward Neill ‘Vic’ McCann is still grabbing the scores up front with the support of the likes of Declan Traynor and Conor McNeill (if he passes a late fitness test) they can certainly cause the Glenram defence a lot of problems.
Glenravel beat run up a good score when they beat Junior B winners Davitt’s in their quarter final so they are not without some form this season, but it has been mostly a struggle. As I said earlier Glenarm will go into the game as hot favourites. Their league form is vastly superior to that of Glenravel’s but the Con Magees can take some comfort in the fact that their best display of the season came in the league against Glenarm when they beat the Feystown men at Fr Maginn Park. However they will have to at least match that performance on Sunday to have any chance.