Championships finally reach take-off point

After what seemed like a protracted phony war, the Connacht Gold Senior and Glenfarne Wood Products Intermediate Championships finally get to boiling point next weekend when the Quarter-Finals take place with some mouth-watering clashes in prospect.

After what seemed like a protracted phony war, the Connacht Gold Senior and Glenfarne Wood Products Intermediate Championships finally get to boiling point next weekend when the Quarter-Finals take place with some mouth-watering clashes in prospect.

The new three group format added a lot of intrigue and spice to the championship with something at stake in all groups right up until the final whistle of all group games. But the new structure also meant that the championship failed to ignite fully as the stronger clubs have been able to rest players for certain group games and both Mohill and Eslin have reached the Quarter-Finals despite losing two group games.

Whether it was the Olympics, the recession or the huge increase in the number of games this year, the group stages failed to really ignite the interest of the fans but once the competition switches to knock-out, the stakes, and the interest, will be much, much higher. Below we take a brief look at next weekend’s games:

Senior Quarter Finals

Mohill v St Mary’s Kiltoghert: Probably the game of the weekend sees two teams who have been among the better in the championship – Mohill carry an edge from their victory over Kiltubrid but St. Mary’s were pretty comfortable in a tough group, topping the group at their ease. Both are fast, mobile outfits with a lot of young players which should lead to an open, pacy encounter unless this, of course, puts the jinx on it!

Mohill probably have the edge in attacking talent but St. Mary’s defence is formidable and that is where the game will be won or lost. Michael McGuinness & Daniel Beck will give leadership for the young Mohill side but St. Mary’s have quietly gone about topping their group with qyite a lot of young faces. This one really could go either way -if Mohill are close with ten minutes to go, they will take it but Mary’s might still just have an edge.

Allen Gaels v Glencar/Manorhamilton: A young Allen Gaels face a mammoth task against the Champions but the fact that they are facing Glencar/Manor could liberate them. Everyone will expect the champions to prevail and it will leave an eager Gaels with nothing to lose. The Drumshanbo men have been up and down in the championship but the manner of their draw against Bornacoola will do a lot of their resilience and self-confidence.

Glencar/Manor have been well off their best form this year as they are the first to admit, perhaps suffering from having so many players involved with the County Senior team. But there is no team better than rising their game when needed and in Darren Sweeney, James Glancy, Adrian Croal, the O’Flynns, Pat Gilmartin and Paddy Maguire, they have an unrivalled backbone. Glencar/Manor will have to raise their game but they still look the team to beat, the Gaels will push and push but the strength in depth of the champions should see them through.

Annaduff v Aughawillan: A real treat in store here with both teams capable of producing some wonderful football – Aughawillan seemed on a roll after their demolition of Allen Gaels but a shocking loss to Drumreilly stunned them. Annaduff would normally be red hot favourites but they too have to rediscover their form of last year, the manner of their draw against Ballinamore so unlike their normal self.

Both these teams adhere to the principal of work-rate and more work-rate and it will be the team who makes the most of their chances that will set the agenda. Morgan Quinn and Ray Cox will be key to both teams, a shoot-out between the pair a real possibility but the likelihood is that someone like Gary Plunkett or Joe Cox could be the match winner. Defences are going to have to be tight and on that basis, Annaduff, with David Duignan leading the way, get the vote to advance after a ferociously tough battle.

Melvin Gaels v Bornacoola: Melvin Gaels may be the raging hot favourites but they won’t relish taking on a Bornacoola team who are big, powerful and have a pedigree of upsetting favourites on the big day. Two draws in the group stages suggest that Bornacoola have yet to get to the pace of Senior football and they will want to get up to pace very, very quickly next weekend.

The Kinlough men started slowly but they seem to be picking up steam slowly but surely, averaging over 20 points a game in their last two games. The emergence of some fine young attackers suggests that the Kinlough men finally have found support for Emlyn Mulligan. The Gaels will find it hard to overcome the physical power and determination of the Bors but last year’s Intermediate Champions have the power and strength themselves to come through here.

Relegation Semi Finals

Kiltubrid v Drumreilly; Carrigallen v Ballinamore Sean O’Heslin’s: Two difficult games to predict here as all four teams have had highs and lows so far. Kiltubrid will find it very difficult to recover after their loss last Saturday while Drumreilly are buoyed after their win against Aughawillan. Carrigallen put up some fine displays in a tough group but looked increasingly worn down and Ballinamore will be determined to atone for a horrible loss to Kiltubrid. On form, you have to go with Drumreilly and O’Heslin’s.

Intermediate Quarter Finals

Glenfarne/Kiltyclogher v Ballinaglera: A great derby in store with a Glenfarne/Kilty team who are tipped as dark horses in the championship up against a young Ballinaglera side who produced strong displays all throughout. Glenfarne look, however, to have a scoring edge and that will prove the difference in a tight battle.

Gortletteragh v Cloone: Another derby that is sure to have everyone on their toes – Gortletteragh had a scare against Glenfarne and won’t take their neighbours for granted. Cloone started very well but a loss against Aughnasheelin will have stopped their momentum and you’d have to expect Gortletteragh to have too much power all over the field for their neighbours.

Eslin v St. Patrick’s Dromahair: An intriguing game here between a favoured Dromahair and an Eslin team capable of upsetting anyone. In Conor Beirne, Eslin have the competition’s most potent player and if Dromahair can keep him quiet, they will have done more than half the job. Eslin will also be concerned that Dromahair’s powerful attack will do some damage against a defence that has seen two players dismissed in recent games. The Beirne brothers are going to be a handful but a better balanced Dromahair look to be good enough to take the verdict here.

Fenagh St. Caillin’s v Aughnasheelin: The third derby in the Intermediate quarter-finals and an intriguing and open encounter is in prospect. Both have gone quietly about their business so far with both recovering from disappointing losses to qualify in some style. Sean McWeeney is a hugely important figure for Aughnasheelin while the emerging young talent in Fenagh has seen them step up nicely to the plate. This one is probably too close to call but you get the feeling that Fenagh might just have the edge.

Relegation Semi Finals

Drumkeerin v Aughavas; Glencar/Manor v Melvin Gaels: Two incredibly tough games to predict as all four can justly say they are desperately unlucky to be in the relegation series. Drumkeerin and Aughavas is a real puzzler; both were beaten by Eslin in devastating circumstances despite having a man extra but Drumkeerin may just have the edge with a week’s rest. The other game is a huge derby between two incredibly strong outfits – Glencar/Manor lost out by just a point in two group games and that strength in depth might be enough to see off the neighbours.