Battle for third place holds most interest

It is an anomaly of this year’s Connacht Gold Senior and GWP Intermediate Championships that the battle for third place probably holds more fascination than any effort to finish top of the groups.

It is an anomaly of this year’s Connacht Gold Senior and GWP Intermediate Championships that the battle for third place probably holds more fascination than any effort to finish top of the groups.

The race to guarantee an automatic quarter-final place by finishing in the top two is important but the new format means an unusual amount of interest in who finishes third in the group, with scoring difference gifting a quarter-final to the best placed third team.

The unlucky two will go into a playoff with the winner gaining a place in the quarter-finals and the losers going in the relegation semi-finals.

The new format does add a great deal of interest as even teams who have suffered two defeats still have a chance of making it into the quarter-finals as everything is very much up for grabs. Below we take a brief look at the games next weekend:

Senior

Group 1

Carrigallen v Melvin Gaels; Mohill v Glencar/Manorhamilton: It is incredible to think that even with two defeats to their name, Carrigallen are not out of the reckoning were they pull off a surprise and beat Melvin Gaels next Saturday. A big win would put huge pressure on Mohill to get a result against Glencar/Manorhamilton so there is a lot of pressure on both teams. If the games go with form, then the north Leitrim giants should have too much as Manor’s incredible return of 20 points is a staggering score. They will be worried by the fact that Carrigallen landed three goals and a potent Mohill forward line will cause them even more problems. Mohill have a positive scoring difference which could be a vital factor when it comes to deciding the best third placed team. Carrigallen probably won’t get the room they enjoyed against Manor when they take on Melvin Gaels but you have to favour last year’s two champions to come through here and Mohill to wait on their fate via the playoffs.

Group 2

Ballinamore Sean O’Heslin’s v Kiltubrid; St. Mary’s Kiltoghert v Annaduff: Annaduff and St. Mary’s hold the cards here as both can afford to lose and still make it through to the quarter-finals but don’t expect these two great rivals to yield even an inch to each other next Saturday. St. Mary’s have been quietly efficient without being 110% convincing, Kiltubrid created some great goal chances but they still look as if they are a class above in this group. Annaduff should have sealed a win against Ballinamore but were lucky to avoid a defeat at the same time so they won’t know exactly where they are, a more clinical return is needed. The other game is almost winner takes all as it will take the winner into at least a third placed playoff. Kiltubrid have really put it up to Annaduff and St. Mary’s without much reward and Ballinamore, high after their dramatic finish last weekend, will do well not to underestimate them particularly as they have yet to deliver a full hour’s performance but you’d still have to go for St. Mary’s and Ballinamore to take the wins.

Group 3

Bornacoola v Allen Gaels; Aughawillan v Drumreilly: Another very open group where anything is but decided – Drumreilly would appear to be out of contention after fading badly last Saturday in the second half but they will still want to put it up to their neighbours Aughawillan. The value of their win over Allen Gaels and the manner of it is a massive boost for the Willies who should come through here with a win as their confidence is sure to be buzzing. The other game is intriguing – both teams blew hot and cold last Saturday but once Bornacoola found their stride, they strode to an easy win over Drumreilly in the second half. Allen Gaels didn’t quite know what hit them the other day after they looked in control at halftime and picking themselves up to take on a strong Bornacoola will be no easy task. They too have shown real flashes of potential but will find a big and powerful Bornacoola a tough assignment. The Gaels will look to their pace and movement to cause problems but you’d still feel that the Bors will come through here.

Intermediate

Group 1

St. Patrick’s Dromahair v Glencar/Manorhamilton; Fenagh St. Caillin’s v Aughavas: Only Dromahair have booked their place in the quarter-finals in this group with two wins while both Fenagh and Aughavas have a win each, the winner in their game will take second place. The danger comes from how Glencar/Manor will perform after they lost both their games by just a point and although they come up against a strong Dromahair, upsetting their neighbours in a derby is a huge incentive. You’d still expect Dromahair to come through and Fenagh may just edge the other encounter.

Group 2

Melvin Gaels v Ballinaglera; Cloone v Aughnasheelin: Cloone are clear with two wins with both Melvin Gaels and Aughnasheelin keeping an eye on each other to see who goes through in second. Cloone have etched out impressive wins in both their games, even if not by huge margins but they face a determined Aughnasheelin who probably have more motivation to take the win. Melvin Gaels and Ballinaglera is difficult to call, the Kinlough twice narrowly losing out and they may just have enough to come through.

Group 3

Gortletteragh v Glenfarne/Kiltyclogher; Drumkeerin v Eslin: The top two face each other in a rather meaningless game, with no prize for topping the group. You’d still expect that Gortletteragh have the physical strength to overcome Glenfarne and advance unbeaten. The other game is winner takes all and despite the fact that Drumkeerin have just missed out twice, Eslin, if they are motivated, have more than enough scoring power to secure third place.

Junior A

Group 1: St. Patrick’s Dromahair v Allen Gaels; Carrigallen v Annaduff; Group 2: Gortletteragh v Mohill; Drumkeerin v Kiltubrid; Group 3: Bornacoola v Leitrim Gaels; Ballinamore Sean O’Heslin’s v St. Mary’s Kiltoghert:

Leitrim Gaels scored a massive win over St. Mary’s last weekend, their three point win giving them control of the group. Another win will see them into the quarter-finals and they should prove too strong for Bornacoola. Ballinamore and St. Mary’s could go either way but O’Heslin’s appear to have the scoring touch. In the other game, Dromahair and Annaduff look to have too much for Allen Gaels and Carrigallen while Gortletteragh and Mohill’s clash will decide who tops the group, Gortletteragh might just have an edge while Drumkeerin should take the win over Kiltubrid.