Intermediate Championship previews

Cuchullain’s Dunloy v Gort na Mona (Glenavy 2-30 Saturday)3DContractsNILtd copy

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Cuchullain’s Dunloy dip their toes into the championship waters for the first time this season against a Gort na Mona team who have an impressive preliminary round win  behind them after defeating St. James Aldergrove at the Bear Pit a couple of weeks ago.

The Aldergrove side went into that game as slight favourites but were blown away by a Gort na Mona side who turned in an impressive second half performance to run out convincing winners. The sides were sitting joint second in division 2 of the league going into that game, both having won their home game by a single point but Gort na Mona looked the much hungrier in their championship clash, running out winners by ten points.

Darren Boyd led the way for the Gorts in a man of the match performance scoring 0-8 (0-5 frees) but the men from the Mona bye-pass looked strong all over the field. There was only a point between the sides at the half way stage but Gort na Mona upped their game considerably after the break to outscore the Crumlin side by 2-8 to 0-3.

Tomas McGoran, Patrick McCaffrey, Dermot McVeigh, Dessie McClean and Aidan McDonagh were all in sparkling form for a Gort na Mona side who will probably start Saturday’s encounter as favourites following this performance.

Dunloy have had a mixed season in division 2 winning seven of their 14 starts but they made the top half of the division before the cut-off and will have no inferiority complex going into Saturday’s game. Indeed the Cuchullain’s are renowned championship specialists and reached last year’s final before going down to a very good St. Brigid’s side.

As a duel club Dunloy resources are often stretched during the league but come the championship they always seem to get all hands on board and at full strength they are a formidable opponent. Conor McGilligan, Conor Kinsella, Jamie McFerran, Kevin McQuillan, Karl Fitzpatrick, Nigel Elliott, Kevin McAllister, Conor McKinley, Keelan Molloy and Conal Cunning are the men who will put it up to Gort na Mona if they are all available.

Verdict: The form book says Gort na Mona but this one could go either way.Premier 1Village InnCreagh copy-banner

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Sarsfields v Moneyglass (Saturday 3-30 Corrigan Park)

St. Ergnat’s Moneyglass have run into a rich vein of form as they face Sarsfield’s at Corrigan Park on Saturday. After a good start to their league campaign they hit a bad run of injuries and their league form dipped but in recent weeks all hands seem to be back on board.

The Duffin’s, Tiernan, Colm, Fearghal and Seanchann were all to the fore as St. Ergnat’s came alive after the break to outscore Tir na nOg in their preliminary round clash running out 1-8 to 0-7 winners with Colm Duffin leading the way and the introduction of Kevin ‘Kindo’ Marron early in the second half proved a master stroke and his goal proved the turning point.

Gerard Carey, Sean Kelly, Patrick McCormick, Padraig Mackle and Dermot McErlain are likely to figure in a Moneyglass side unlikely to see many changes from the last day as they face a Sarsfield’s side who have struggled to maintain their division 2 status after gaining promotion from division 3 last year.

The Wards, the McKernan’s Gary Lennon and co. will give it everything and with division 2 status secure for another season the Paddies have nothing to lose and they may run Moneyglass close but the Marrion Hill side’s superior scoring power and team work should see them move on to the semi-final.

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Verdict: Moneyglass

St. Enda’s v Davitt’s (Sunday 12-30 The Bear Pit)

At a first glance this looks the easiest of the four quarter-finals to predict with St. Enda’s from division 1 taking on Davitt’s who are playing their football in division 2B following the split. The Glengormley side gained promotion last season and in their first season in division 1 they have been impressive.

St. Enda’s made a great start in the higher division with wins over Ahoghill, Cargin, Portglenone and  Glenavy and were beaten by the narrowest of margins by Rossa and Creggan and despite a number of defeats they have secured their place in division 1 for another year.

They have a strong panel of players which includes former county keeper, Paddy Flood and present county panellists Peter Healey, Kristin Healey and Oran Eastwood and experienced campaigners in Phillip Curran, Ruairi Scott, Gerard Crossey and Michael McNamee and proved too good for St. Paul’s in the preliminary round two weeks ago.

Michael Davitt’s, like St. Enda’s made a good start to the season with wins over Tir na nOg, Sarsfield’s, and Rasharkin and a draw with league leaders, St. Brigid’s at Musgrave Park. Their form has dipped more recently but they have been without key players in a number of those games including their talisman mid-fielder, Sean O’Neill.

If big Sean is available on Sunday and if they can field at anywhere near full strength then Davitt’s are capable of pushing the Hightown side all the way but St. Enda’s greater experience in division 1 should give them the sharpness to win this one with a little to spare.

Verdict: St. Enda’s

People1st copySt. Mary’s Rasharkin v All Saints (Creggan 3-00 Sunday)

The final game of the quarter-finals pits South West rivals, St. Mary’s Rasharkin and All Saints Ballymena together in what looks like an evenly matched contest at Creggan on Sunday. Both sides have similar league records, Rasharkin with 14 points from 14 starts sit at the top of 2B while All Saints with 13 points from the same number of games lie one place behind them.

The sides have met only once this season and All Saints won that one handy enough at Slemish Park but the Dreen side were badly under strength on that occasion and the result is likely to have little or no bearing on the outcome of Sunday’s game.

Rasharkin are renowned championship battlers and in fact the Slemish Park men have never won a championship game against their South West neighbours. They last met in the Intermediate championship a couple of years back and on that occasion All Saints were riding high in division 2 while their opponents were struggling.

St. Mary’s resilience and championship know how saw them through in a low scoring affair and I would expect Sunday’s encounter to progress along similar lines with little separating them at the final whistle.

Ryan Doherty is a reliable keeper for St. Mary’s and Conor Hasson, Thomas Quigg, Andrew Hasson, Thomas McMullan, Brendan Etherson, Enda McFerran, Thomas Doherty and the superb Eamon McNeill will spearhead the Rasharkin push for a place in the final.

All Saints will look to the likes of Sean McVeigh, Peter McNicholl, Emmet Killough, Michael McCarry, Ciaran McGarry, Rory McVeigh and the recently returned Peter McReynolds to get them over the line but their cause hasn’t been helped by the recent departure of county player, Paddy McAleer.

Again this one could go either way but Rasharkin have held a championship hoodoo over the Ballymena men for some time and will hope to extend it for at least another year.

Verdict: Rasharkin

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