Mohill's Ciaran Kennedy is surrounded by Aughawillan players. Photo by Willie Donnellan
Round two of the Connacht Gold Senior and Fox’s Monumentals Intermediate Championship is an extended affair with games taking places over four days, starting with Thursday’s historic Intermediate clash of Aughavas and Fenagh St. Caillin’s.
We take a quick look at the games and put our head on the chopping block with our predictions for the games, having got 11 out of 12 right last week - no guarantee of that this week though!
Thursday August 3
IFC: Aughavas v Fenagh St. Caillin’s in Cloone 8.30
Aughavas really put it up to Ballinaglera last Saturday and staged a great second half fightback to trail by just a point at the final whistle. They face a Division One team in Fenagh and although a derby match will bring the best out of last year’s Junior winners, you’d expect that Fenagh just have too much firepower for them. In Donal Wrynn and Ryan O’Rourke, Fenagh have two match winners and they should collect their second win in Cloone.
Carrigallen's Andrew McManus is tackled by Cloone's Mark Creegan. Photo by Willie Donnellan
Friday August 4
SFC: Ballinamore Sean O’Heslin’s v Gortletteragh in Cloone 8.30
This is an intriguing game for so many reasons - Gortletteragh must have been shocked by the ease Melvin Gaels beat them last Saturday and they will need a reaction on Friday and a big one. Reports suggest that Gortletteragh didn’t look comfortable at all but when they did, it was when they went all out. There will be a reaction but will it be enough? Ballinamore looked ring rusty against Allen Gaels but the strength of their bench means they have options everywhere and you get the feeling they will be much better this Friday evening. Sean O’Heslin’s to win comfortably.
Saturday August 5
SFC: Allen Gaels v Aughawillan in Ballinamore 7.00
A chance to get back on track for two teams who lost last weekend. Aughawillan are vulnerable at the moment as they estimated they were without six first choice players against Mohill last Friday but how many of them will be back in action this Saturday is hard to know. They will need a big improvement as this is a game that could decide their fate. Allen Gaels will have drawn a lot of heart from their first half display against Sean O’Heslin’s but the way they faded from the game is the second half is a worry.
The Drumshanbo men will have to meet Aughawillan’s desire and intensity head on in a game that has all the hallmarks of a tight encounter.
League form would suggest Aughawillan and the Champions should prevail but there is potential for an upset if the Willies are vastly under-strength again.
SFC: Bornacoola v St. Mary’s Kiltoghert in Cloone 5.30
Bornacoola have work to do to make the playoffs but they showed they may just have foundations to do so with a battling display against Annaduff. They need to convert more of the chances they do create while fitness down the home straight may be an issue.
St. Mary’s Kiltoghert had a comfortable win against Drumreilly but it took them a long while to get going and they were far from impressive. James Glancy, Alan Doherty, Brian O’Donnell and Michael Corrigan all had big games but Mary’s had the luxury of bringing on players like Ray Mulvey, Daire Farrell and Conor McWeeney in the last six minutes to demonstrate a good strength in depth.
Bornacoola’s traditional physical power may be diminished slightly but they will put it up to the Carrick men but nevertheless, expect St. Mary’s to score another comfortable win.
A late injury time point for Dromahair against Glencar/Manorhamilton. Photo by Willie Donnellan
SFC: Annaduff v Glencar/Manorhamilton in Drumshanbo 5.30
Glencar/Manorhamilton scored a 15 point win over Dromahair and Annaduff had nine points to spare against Bornacoola but what both those games have in common is that the winners finished extremely well to maybe give their teams a flattering margin of victory.
Glencar/Manor are regarded among the possible favourites for the title and they possess a formidable backbone and as they showed against their neighbours last Sunday, when Manor hit scoring form, they are impossible to stop.
Annaduff mixed some good with some bad against Bornacoola, looking unstoppable at times and then struggling against their neighbours. Mattie Cox left the field nursing what looked to be a shoulder injury and the long serving veteran would be a huge loss, the centre-back was one of Annaduff’s key performers.
This will be closer than many people expect but you have to think that Glencar/Manor’s scoring power should carry the day with something to spare.
SFC: St. Patrick’s Dromahair v Drumreilly in Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada 5.30
Two teams that lost heavily the first weekend, this is the perfect game for either Drumreilly or Dromahair to get their season back on track. But it is very much down to who can lift themselves and who can see the chance to stake a claim for a quarter-final place.
Dromahair will probably feel better about themselves coming out of last weekend’s games as they actually led Glencar/Manor during the first half and actually cut the lead to four points early in the second half. And in Robbie Cunningham, Gary Fowley and Martin Feeney, they have the players who can get scores.
For Drumreilly, constantly fighting against relegation the last few years, targeting key games is something they are good at and they know a victory against Dromahair could see them make the quarter-finals. They will need a lot more from their team against Dromahair but at the moment, it is hard to see anything other than a Dromahair win.
SFC: Melvin Gaels v Mohill in Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada 7.00
The stand out fixture from the weekend - the League finalists going head to head will tell us exactly how good each of these teams are. Melvin Gaels demolished Gortletteragh and Mohill were masters of all they surveyed against Aughawillan but just how strenuous was the challenges they faced.
Aughawillan were severely understrength, Gortletteragh seem to have lost their way. This game will tell us much of where they are. The Gaels showed they can nullifying the opposition’s top scorer but Mohill have so many scoring threats that concentrating on Keith Beirne or Ronan Kennedy could be costly.
But Mohill have also struggled against a massed defence and is there a team in the county better at tying up the opposition than the Kinlough men, indeed Mohill lost their title when they couldn’t break down Aughawillan last year.
Mohill hammered the Kinlough men in the second round of the League but it wouldn’t be beyond the bounds of possibilities for this to end in a draw but Mohill probably have the edge at the moment, a tentative vote for Mohill.
Wayne McKeon on the ball for Ballinamore Sean O'Heslin's against Allen Gaels. Photo by Willie Donnellan
IFC: Glenfarne/Kilty v Leitrim Gaels in Ballinamore 5.30
Glenfarne/Kiltyclogher look destined for Junior Championship football in 2018 as their tally of just two points in the opening game against Kiltubrid was the lowest score of any team in the Senior or Intermediate Championships last weekend.
The lack of numbers and the fact that they are playing Division 3 football counts heavily against Glenfarne/Kilty and on Saturday, they face a team headed in the other direction.
The burgeoning population of Gaels hinterland enabled them to introduce five players under the age of 20 to championship football against Mohill’s second string and while they struggled at times, the Gaels were also without the considerable power of Liam & Colm Moreton which makes them a very different team.
Bluntly speaking, hard to see anything other than a comprehensive win for Leitrim Gaels here.
Sunday, August 6
IFC: Carrigallen v Mohill in Cloone 12.00
Carrigallen were surprised by the scale of their loss to Cloone last weekend but they would be careful not to underestimate the challenge posed by Mohill’s second string team next Sunday, a Mohill team who can probably now use a greater selection of players after fulfilling their first and second 17 player requirements.
Ronan Gordon is a player who has featured for the Mohill Senior team, Evan, Sean & Ethan Harkin, Kevin Flynn, David Mitchell and Shane McGowan are all quality footballers so anyone who underestimates Mohill could be in for a shock.
Carrigallen obviously have work to do in defence after conceding four goals against Cloone and the potential loss through injury of Gerard Percival is a massive blow. A newer generation is starting to come through but Carrigallen need a win to boost their confidence and drive their campaign.
This will be tight and close but Carrigallen’s greater need may just be enough to see them through.
IFC: Ballinaglera v Eslin in Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada 12.00
This game could go either way based on last weekend’s performances as Eslin really put it up to Aughnasheelin while Ballinaglera had just a point to spare against Aughavas so it really is all to play for.
Eslin need the win to avoid getting dragged into a relegation battle but the loss of Brian Higgins through suspension and the injured Eamon Stenson severely tests their resources and while getting the ball into Conor Beirne will result in scores, the full-forward will need far greater support on the scoring front if Eslin are to win.
Ballinaglera may be preoccupied with stopping Conor Beirne and the north Leitrim men have traditionally enjoyed a physical contest but they may be better served by trying to eliminate the supply into the Eslin man and around the middle of the field, Tomas Cornyn, Enda Maguire and Seamus McMorrow may give them an edge in stopping Eslin building any momentum.
Ballinaglera aren’t traditional big scorers but if they can restrict the Beirne brothers, Tomas from catching and Conor from scoring, they can take the verdict against a weakened Eslin.
Aughnasheelin's Barry McWeeney is tackled by Eslin's Dermot Reynolds. Photo by Willie Donnellan
IFC: Cloone v Kiltubrid in Ballinamore 4.30
Two unbeaten teams clashing in an interesting clash that will go a long way to booking a quarter-final spot. Darren Carberry looks like the goal king at the moment, scoring two or three a game all year and Kiltubrid will have to keep an eye on Cloone’s newest recruit if they are to prevail.
Kiltubrid are another team trying to manage a difficult transition, relegation from Senior last year and the loss of so many players who shone for so many years. What they do have is a bit of physical power in Shane Foley, Pat Moolick, Keelan McKeon and Emmet Mahon but the old guard coming off the bench are still vital.
Cloone have quietly impressed in Division 2 all year, notwithstanding conceding a game a few weeks ago, and the addition of the Carberry brothers, Michael Bohan and Darren Keegan is a much needed injection of youth and vigour.
This is a tight one to call but perhaps Carberry’s goal scoring exploits and a tougher test against Carrigallen will be enough to carry them through.
IFC: Aughnasheelin v Drumkeerin in Ballinamore 6.00
Another blockbuster in the Intermediate championship and one that features two teams that learned valuable lessons last weekend. If Aughnasheelin had any illusions that they could walk through the Intermediate thanks to their Division One performances, Eslin brought them back down to earth.
Drumkeerin, finalists last year, looked set for a good challenge this year and still are but indiscipline cost them very dearly against Fenagh. Losing two players is something no team can afford and the proof is in the fact that following the second dismissal, Fenagh scored 2-4 to win what had been a tight game up to that point.
Aughnasheelin are fretting over an injury to County star Conor Cullen and his worth was demonstrated by the impact he had on the players around him when he came on against Eslin - a fully fit Cullen gives Aughnasheelin a real edge.
These teams met just two weeks ago in the League with Aughnasheelin prevailing by two points and if Drumkeerin are vastly weakened by suspensions, you’d get the feeling that Aughnasheelin may just have enough to record their second victory.
All eyes on the action - a photo of the sideline during the Annaduff and Bornacoola Senior Championship clash in Cloone. Photo by Willie Donnellan