By Paddy McIlwaine
As we go into the final round of group games in the various football championship this weekend we have play-off places still to be decided and final places for a number of sides still very much in the balance.
All those still in contention for a place in the play-offs will have prepared diligently for this weekend’s do or die clashes and we will be looking at all these games in our match-day preview but there is one group that has thrown up a special set of circumstances that has set me thinking.
In Group 1 of the Senior Football championship holders Erin’s Own Cargin have already qualified and even at this early stage of proceedings look the team to beat but it’s the race for who will join them in the quarter-finals that may or may not have been affected by last weekend’s Senior Hurling championship semi-final results.
Let me try to explain! Going into Sunday’s meeting of Cargin and St. John’s in Toome and Moneyglass and Rossa at Marian Hill the Whiterock and Shaw’s Road sides are both still serious contenders for second place in the group.
Their games against each other finished with the same score differences. St. John’s defeated Rossa 0-12 to 0-9 at Corrigan while Rossa reversed that result by the same margin on the Shaw’s Road so score difference between the Belfast giants is the same.
It therefore goes down to score difference over all their group games and going into Sunday’s games St. John’s have 6 points from five starts while Rossa have 4 point from five games played. Should Rossa win and St. John’s lose then they would both have six points but St. John’s have a superior score difference of plus 6 while Rossa are on minus 1 so even a draw would ensure the Corrigan men second place.
Rossa though will feel they are still very much in contention and will fancy their chances as they head to Moneyglass to take on a St. Ergnat’s side who have no points on board to date and will be hoping to record a big enough winning margin to qualify should the ‘Johnnies’ lose in Toome.
Going back to the aforementioned Senior Hurling championship semi-finals last weekend, let me elaborate further. Rossa produced a spectacular finish to beat Ruairi Og in the first of these semi-finals while St. John’s lost to Dunloy in the other semi-final but were aggrieved by a disallowed goal that would have left them serious contenders going into the final stages of the game.
Both Rossa and St. John’s sides are laced by duel players so how will those results affect their preparations for this weekend’s football games? Will Rossa start with one eye on their forthcoming hurling final and could the worry of injures affect their preparations and lineout or will the possibility of a hurling-football championship double urge them on?
St. John’s are sure to be still smarting from their hurling semi-final defeat to Cuchullain’s so will it have deflated them or spurred them to greater efforts going into their clash in Toome on Sunday?
I’m still smarting from last weekend predictions where I took Ahoghill to defeat Creggan in the IHC semi-final and Cushendun to beat Carey in the same competition. I also tipped Glenarm to beat Glenravel in the Junior Hurling final. As many of you have reminded me I got them all wrong.
Not an easy job and perhaps my career as a bookie would have been even less successful than that as a sports pundit so I am going to sit on the fence on this one. Both games are sure to attract a lot of interest and the sports apps in Toome and Moneyglass are sure to be busy on Sunday afternoon.
Despite already qualifying Cargin are unlikely to take things easy against a side they may well feel it would be better to get rid of at this stage of the championship while pride could be the motivating factor for a Moneyglass side who have performed reasonably well without any success in this campaign.
May the best team win!