And then there were four

Northern Switchgear Senior Football Championship semi-final previews

The semi-finals of the Senior Football Championship are scheduled for Saturday and even though these strange times have contravened to restrict attendance those lucky enough to gain admittance at tomorrow’s games are certain to be well entertained.

The first game is at Ahoghill on the always pristine Clooney sod bringing together keen South West rivals, Casement’s Portglenone and Kickham’s Creggan (1.00pm) with the second featuring last year’s finalists, defending champions, Erin’s Own Cargin and Lamh Dhearg at Hightown. (4.00pm).

Casement’s Portglenone v Kickham’s Creggan (Ahoghill 1.00pm)

A place in the 2020 final at stake as keen rivals Casement’s and Creggan line out at Clooney in a game that should be interesting.

Honours were even in the opening group stages with Creggan gaining the verdict at O’Cahan Park in the opening round but the tables were turned in the reverse fixture when Portglenone recorded a 1-06 to 0-07 win on the Staffordstown road.

Little appears to separate these keen rivals but the Casement’s will be keeping fingers crossed that Niall Mc Keever and Dermot Mc Aleese will be declared fit.

Both ‘high fielding’ mid fielder Mc Keever, and playmaker Mc Aleese are central to the Portglenone cause, but Barry Dillon has a strong panel at his disposal including the Delargy brothers, Kieron McKenna, Michael Donnelly, Paddy and Michael Kelly and Michael Hagen so they have plenty of selection options.

Creggan will enter the fray as slight favourites and the Kickham’s are a talented bunch and their manager Gerard McNulty will keep their feet firmly on the ground. Creggan have been knocking on the doorway to success in recent years and came close in 2018 only to lose out to neighbours Cargin in the decider.

The battle for mid field supremacy may well be a telling factor and in this department Conor McCann and Kevin Rice are accomplished performers while the Johnston brothers Ricky and Martin should start again at the heart of their defence with Kevin and Conor Small, Paddy Cooey and the impressive Ruairi McCann leading the attack.

A close one is certainly in prospect, but with doubt hanging over the availability of both Niall McKeever and Dermot Mc Aleese, Creggan are awarded a tentative vote.

Erin’s Own Cargin v Lamh Dhearg (Hightown 4.00pm)

The action moves to Hightown for the second semi-final as St Enda’s play hosts to a repeat of the 2019 decider as reigning champions, Erin’s Own Cargin face last year’s beaten finalists, Lamh Dhearg.

It took a replay and extra time to separate these two last year and tomorrow’s game could be another close affair and another draw certainly can’t be ruled out.

Cargin are unbeaten in  Group 3 of the qualifiers although not over impressive en route.

Damian Cassidy used the ‘round robin’ system to research his panel but when it came to the knock out stages his side were mighty impressive in a facile win over Rossa under the illuminations at Ahoghill on Tuesday evening.

Cargin management gave championship debuts to Sean Og O’ Neill and Ronan Gribbin and both turned in impressive performances and Damian Cassidy has an injury free panel to select from again tomorrow with Justin Crozier, James Laverty, the back in harness Kevin O’ Boyle, the McCann brothers, Michael, Tomas, and Paul, as well as Kevin McShane, Jamie Gribbin, Ciaran Bradley and Pat Shivers amongst those vying for a place in their starting lineup.

It took a late Brendan Herron goal to see the Hannahstown side home against a tenacious Aghagallon in their quarter-final at Corrigan last Sunday and manager, Mairtin Lynch will be looking for a big improvement from his side tomorrow.

John Finnucane, Declan Lynch, Michael Herron and Kevin Quinn are all likely starters in defence with Mark Jordan and Brendan Herron expected to line out at mid-field. Paddy Cunningham, the Murray brothers, Ryan and Conor are all accomplished forwards and Cunningham’s free taking expertise could be a vital ingredient tomorrow if Lamh Dhearg are to avenge last year’s final defeat.

Cargin will start as favourites but this one could go either way but although the Hannahstown men will give this one a real lash the reigning champions may just shade it.

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