Junior Football Championship Quarter-Finals
There’s a really busy schedule of football championship games this weekend and, like last year the Saffron Gael are hoping to cover every game. We start by taking a look at the Junior Football Championship and as many as five sides look in with a real chance of going all the way this year.
The action gets under way on Friday night with the Junior Football Championship and a double fixture at Woodlands that should produce two well contested championship games.
O’Donnell’s v St. Comgall’s Antrim (Friday Woodlands 7-00pm)
O’Donnell’s played their football in division 2 this year having gained promotion from division 3 at the end of the 2017 season as runners up to Sarsfield’s. It’s been a tough season for the McCrory Park side and with a couple of games to play they haven’t recorded a win to date and will make a quick return to division 3 next season.
St. Comgall’s have done reasonably well in division 3 this year but look unlikely to gain promotion with St. Patrick’s Lisburn, Kickham’s Ardoyne and Con Magee’s Glenravel joint top of the division at present and the two promotion places look to be between these three.
Just how much this run of results will affect O’Donnell’s remains to be seen and they may well see the Junior Championship as an opportunity to resurrect their season while St. Comgall’s, beaten finalists by Glenravel two years ago, could be thinking along similar lines.
Prediction: I predict a tight contest which could go either way but if St. Comgall’s can produce their best form then they can advance to the semi-final.
Kickham’s Ardoyne v Naomh Padraig Lisburn (Friday Woodlands 8-30)
Both these sides have a win under their belts already with Naomh Padraig proving much too strong for Eire Og at Cliftonville two weeks ago and Kickham’s getting the better of Ballycastle in Ballymena last week.
Both sides are neck and neck in the promotion race and Naomh Padraig can claim the bragging rights in the most recent meeting of the sides when they beat Ardoyne in the league at Kirkwood Park. Eleven points separated the sides on that occasion but I don’t expect Paddy Murray’s side to be too affected by that result.
A lot could depend on who adopts best to the 4G surface at Woodlands and Ardoyne play their home games on a similar surface at Cliftonville while Naomh Padraig looked comfortable when defeating Eire Og on the same pitch.
Prediction: This one, like the previous looks hard to call but Naomh Padraig performed really well before losing narrowly to Sarsfield’s in last year’s final and might just edge it.
Con Magee’s Glenravel v Pearses (Saturday 12-00 Ballymena)
Con Magee’s Glenravel look firm favourites in this one having recorded a 12 point win over Saturday’s opponents in the league in Belfast last time out but league results can’t always be a true gauge when it comes to the championship.
Pearses have a win under their belts in this year’s championship having defeated Laochra Loch Lao in a preliminary round game at Woodlands and on that performance cannot be ruled out but they will have to step it up considerably if they are to have any chance on Saturday.
Prediction: Glenravel were Junior champions two years ago when they defeated St. Comgall’s in the final and have returned to the junior grade after an unsuccessful outing at Intermediate level last year and barring a major upset should have too much in the tank for Patrick Pearses
St. Agnes v St. Malachy’s (Saturday 1-00 St. Teresa’s)
On league form St. Malachy’s will start this one as favourites with 19 points from 16 starts and the lads from the Markets sit just outside the top four while their opponents St. Agnes languish in second bottom place. Only two points separated the sides when they met in the league back in May but St. Malachy’s had 11 points to spare in the return fixture back in July.
Prediction: Roy McLarnon has a habit of getting the best out of his side come the championship and last year they recorded a good win over Ballycastle before going down to eventual finalists, Naomh Padraig. They will have to step up their game quite a bit if they are to win this one and the nod goes to the men from the Markets.
If you have business in the area of one of the eight teams playing in this weekend’s Junior Championship games we offer you an opportunity to show your support for your side and in doing so helping us to maintain our coverage of all these games by placing a banner advert, wishing your side good luck.
The cost of the advert is £60-00 and will appear on your side’s match report and, if they advance it will appear again on subsequent reports for no extra charge. As a bonus we will also add your advert to this preview if you get it to us before Friday. We have included an example on the Ardoyne preview from their sponsors who are contributors to this site.