Annaduff v Glencar Manorhamilton: Annaduff have drawn a very short straw here, facing a re-energised Glencar/Manorhamilton. Manor are top of Division One and seem like a team on a mission, unlike the one that stumbled towards history last year only to fall at the hands of their neighbours Melvin Gaels in the Final. Annaduff are an enigma – good results in the League are followed by disappointing losses. On their day they are as hard to beat as anyone but they have been struggling to replace some of the stalwarts of the last ten years. Manor never like taking on Annaduff but they would still appear to have the class to overcome a young Annaduff side.
Melvin Gaels v Carrigallen: Saturday’s encounter in Drumshanbo sees Melvin Gaels begin their Championship defence with quite a few questions and without the normal pressure of favouritism that defending champions endure. The loss of Emlyn Mulligan and manager Billy Gavigan, retirements of key players and emigration leaves the Kinlough men more vulnerable than many would have anticipated. Carrigallen have had their own struggles over the past few years but the return Gary Reynolds is an incalcuable boost and anyone who underestimates Carrigallen would do well to remember last year when they were everyone’s tip for relegation but survived with plenty to spare. The Champions still have to be favoured – results have picked up in recent weeks and their strength in depth should see them emerge with the win here.
Aughawillan v Bornacoola: To be brutally honest, it is hard to pick favourites here. Both started the League badly but Aughawillan have picked up form, a draw with Glencar/Manor a noteworthy result for a team that is still caught between the young players and older stalwarts. A semi-final appearance was great progress last year but the manner of their loss will have hurt badly. For Bornacoola, no wins in Division One spells trouble as they have shipped some heavy defeats but for all that, if there is one team that can surprise their odds it is Bornacoola as there is an undoubted wealth of experience there. Momentum appears to be with Aughawillan and a good win here will get them off to a good start.
Drumreilly v Allen Gaels: An intriguing game here as a rejuvenated Drumreilly come up against an Allen Gaels side flying high in Division 2. The form of John McKeon and Declan Maxwell has inspired Drumreilly to fourth place in Division 1 and the two former County stars are the men Allen Gaels must stop if they are to take the win. The Gaels are unbeaten in Division Two and have showed a vital knack of avoiding defeat and snatching victories. They too labour under the burden of waiting for a golden generations to fulfill their promise but if they produce top form, they will be hard beaten. This one could go either way but playing in Division One may just give Drumreilly a slight edge.
Mohill v Kiltubrid: On the face of it, Mohill are raging hot favourites here as their Championship winning survivors from 2006 have been supplemented by emerging young talent while Kiltubrid are desperately battling to hold onto their Senior status year after year. Yet it is that battling experience that may give Kiltubrid an edge if they can drag Mohill into a dog-fight. Kiltubrid’s scoring power may not be as great as it once was but as Ballinamore found last year, a motivated Dara McKiernan and James Gill are incredibly dangerous and if Mohill allow this develop into a dog fight, it could become very difficult. But you still have to expect Mohill to come out on top here.
Gortletteragh v St Mary’s Kiltoghert: Another intriguing battle with an injury hit St. Mary’s team in transition facing last year’s Intermediate Champions, a team many feel could have a good shot for Senior glory this year. The Carrick men have been going through a tough time this year but recent results, even in defeat, suggest that Mary’s might just be finding form at the right time. Gortletteragh pipped the Carrick men in the League by a point but Mary’s are ahead of them in the table and it is likely Saturday’s encounter will come down to how much of an impact Cathal McCrann has on the game – if St. Mary’s can limit his influence, they get the nod; if not Gortletteragh should start with a win here.
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