Last two quarter-finals down for decision

Northern Switchgear Senior Football Championship quarter-final previews

The last two games in the Senior Football Championship quarter-finals are down for decision tomorrow night and they throw together another couple of interesting contests. Cargin take on Rossa under the lights at Ahoghill while Casement’s Portglenone meet St. Gall’s at Dunsilly.

Cargin v Rossa (Ahoghill 7-15)

Reigning county champions, Erin’s Own Cargin will start this one as firm favourites. The Toome men have come through their Group 3 fixtures with an unblemished record, winning six from six starts despite having a few injury problems during the qualifications.

News coming out of the Cargin camp suggests they now have a clean bill of health and Damian Cassidy will have all his panel to call upon but just who will line out tomorrow night is anyone’s guess.

Last year’s keeper, John McNabb has not figured in the senior side this year and in his absence Shane Bovill has staked a claim for the number one jersey with McNabb figuring in attack for the second string recently.

Elsewhere in the side it should be business as usual and a case of who to leave out rather than who to select but it is a challenge that Cassidy and his backroom team will relish as they bid for a place in the semi-final against Lamh Dhearg.

Their opponents Rossa have been the story of the season so far with the Shaw’s Road men operating on both fronts, football and hurling and performing out of their skin and it might be a case as to when their dual demands will start to take their toll.

Rossa finished second in Group 2 behind winners Lamh Dhearg but above St. John’s. They drew with the Johnnies home and away before beating the Hannastown side in their final game to qualify for tomorrow night’s quarter-final in Cloney.

The Jerimiah’s will have one eye on the weekend’s Senior Hurling semi-final against Dunloy after defeating a fancied Ruairi Og at the weekend to qualify and quite a number of those in action against Cargin played in that epic win.

Donal Armstrong, Niall Crossan, Gerard Walsh, Cricky McGuinness, Stephen Beatty, Michael Armstrong, Dominic McEnhill and Deaglan Murphy have been carrying the Rossa challenge on both fronts this year and turning in great performances on both fronts.

Cargin are likely to look at their experienced and trusted performers as they make their bid for a fourth title in five years with Justin Crozier, Michael McCann, Tomas McCann, Paul McCann, James Laverty and Kieran Close likely to start and youngster Jimmy Gribben, Ciaran Bradley and Sean Og O’Neill hoping to get the nod.

The form book would suggest that Cargin should win this with something to spare but they certainly shouldn’t take Rossa for granted. Their opponents in last year’s final, Lamh Dhearg came mighty close to being dumped out by Aghagallon in Sunday’s quarter-final and that should serve as a warning to Damian Cassidy and his side if one were needed.

Verdict: Cargin to win by four points

Casement’s Portglenone v St. Gall’s (Dunsilly 6-45)

Casement’s Portglenone set the championship alight last year before losing to Lamh Dhearg after a replay in the semi-final and were expected to make a strong challenge in this year’s championship but it didn’t quite work out according to plan.

The Ports lost their opening two games in Group 1 to Creggan and Ahoghill and looked on their way out of this year’s championship before the action got going in earnest. They regrouped however to record a good win over the Cloney men in round 2 and travelled to Creggan where they were even more impressive in beating the Kickham’s on their own ground.

The Delargy’s, Ronan, Shane, Niall and Conal, Niall McKeever, Michael Donnelly, Kieron McKenna, Dermot McAleese and Paddy Kelly are seasoned campaigners while Ruairi Hagan, Oisin Doherty and Ronan Kelly add youth to a side that have pace in abundance and it is that pace they will surely try to utilise as they take on St. Gall’s at Dunsilly.

The Milltown men have a record second to none in this competition but it has been a while since the championship trophy made its way to Milltown Row. Paddy Murray, a former championship winner with St. Gall’s has taken over as manager this year and has attempted to add a bit of youth to an ageing side.

They looked quite impressive when I saw them at St. Enda’s last time out and it was the old guard who impressed me most with Sean Kelly, Aodhan Gallagher, Sean Burke, Michael Pollock, Kevin Niblock, Terry O’Neill and the irrepressible CJ McGourty playing a big part in their win over the home side.

Chris Kerr’s recurring injury has come as a big blow but replacement keeper, Liam McCormick, Conor Stinton, the McCabes and Niall Burns have added fresh legs to the St. Gall’s effort and they will travel to Dunsilly with confidence.

Portglenone will hope that they have put their early season stumble behind them but they should be wary of a St. Gall’s side who will feel that they have still another championship within their capabilities and if they get their noses in front then they certainly know how to hold onto a lead.

They might just find the pace and movement of Portglenone too hot to handle however and I would expect the Casements to edge home in a tight game.

Verdict: Portglenone by three

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