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Armagh Football Championship Preveiws

August 15, 2016

The Senior championships get under way with the perennial question popping up who can stop Cross. The defending champions are seeking their seventh title in a row and their twentieth in the last 21 years and have 15 other teams to compete with. Amazingly 10 of the 15 teams involved are seeking their first Senior title with Pearse Og winners in 2009, Armagh Harps 1991, Sarsfields 1990, Clann Eireann 1963 and Wolfe Tones 1943 the only previous winners of the title. Six teams in the 2016 championship have tasted final defeats at the hands of Crossmaglen Rangers, Dromintee 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2010, Pearse Og 1999, 2000, 2007, 2008, 2012, Armagh Harps 2009, 2014, 2015, St Patrick’s 2013, Ballymacnab 2011 and Madden 1998. Each year one hears that the Rangers are on the wane but the 2/5 in the bookies reflects very much the outlined facts.

Seniors

Friday August 19th

Maghery v Annaghmore @ Wolfe Tones 7.30 pm

Both of the teams opening the 2016 Senior Championship will be seeking their first title at this grade with a last championship title for Maghery in the Intermediate in 2003 whilst opponents Annaghmore were 2013 Junior champions.

Maghery with the talent at their disposal are yearly touted as the team capable of dethroning the champions but when it comes to championship fare they cannot make the step up required from League to Championship when it really matters. Wins over Forkhill 1-14 to 0-9, Pearse Og 2-13 to 0-8 and Granemore 2-13 to 2-5 left them with a semi-final match with the champions Crossmaglen who put them out 0-12 to 0-9 last year. Their recent win over Cross, which cost the Rangers the title, will be a big boost going forward this year.

Annaghmore have performed very well since their elevation to senior level and reached the quarter finals last year following wins over Tir na nOg 2-8 to 0-11 and Ballymacnab 1-12 to 0-14 only for Ballymacnab to come in the back door to avenge their defeat with a one point win of their own 1-10 to 1-9.

Verdict- Maghery to win a well contested game.

Granemore v Tir na nOg @ Pearse Og Park  3.45 pm

Intermediate titles for Granemore (2005) and Tir na nOg (2001) were their last championship successes as they both set out in quest of a maiden senior title. Having been drawn against the champions Cross (4-15 to 1-7) Granemore produced the first real major shock last year by following up their 4-15 to 4-8 defeat of Carrickcruppen to reach the quarter final by beating St Patrick’s 1-11 to 0-13. Maghery brought the curtain down on their year 2-13 to 2-5.

The Portadown boys lost first hand to Annaghmore 2-8 to 0-11 and scored 2-16 to lose to Wolfe Tones who notched 4-15 in the first round qualifier. Granemore will be heading to senior A following promotion with Tir na nOg still in senior B.

Verdict- Will go with the form and plump for a Granemore victory.

Sunday August 21st

Madden v Clann Eireann  @ Pearse Og Park 2pm

Clann Eireann (2) won the last of their 2 senior titles in1963 but have more recent success at Intermediate level in 2015 by defeating Whitecross 2-13 to 2-8 in the final. Madden were Intermediate winners in 2013 and lost the 1998 senior final to Cross 2-16 to 0-9.

Clann Eireann  underage successes are reaping rewards at senior ranks as they have managed a second successive promotion and will ply their trade in Senior A League next year. Madden held their own following promotion to senior B and will be looking for a good championship run and revenge for last year’s semi-final 1-16 to 0-9 defeat by Clann Eireann.

Verdict-Clann Eireann to frank their League form over Madden with a win.

Sarsfields v Forkhill @ Ballymacnab 2pm

Both these sides out of the championship limelight for a while with Sarsfields (1) adding an Intermediate title in 2010 to their Senior success in 1990 but it has been a longer wait for Forkhill (1) who captured Senior in 1928 and Junior in 1981. Sarsfields were beaten by Pearse Og 0-21 to 4-4 setting them up with a round qualifier match with Forkhill (defeated by Maghery) in last year’s championship. The teams produced a cracking contest which actually finished level after normal time but produced a crazy extra-time finish 6-19 to 2-14 in favour of Sarsfields. Ballymacnab were 2-16 to 1-17 winners over Sarsfields in their next championship outing. Forkhill need to win the Senior Championship to preserve their senior status following relegation in the League. Sarsfields comfortably survived in Senior A for next year.

Verdict- Another full blooded close encounter in prospect with the High Moss to prevail at the expense of the O’Doirnin’s.

Crossmaglen v Dromintee @ Cullyhanna 6-30pm

The farce that took place last year when theses sides last met in the championship thankfully will not be repeated as a very youthful Dromintee try to beat the holders Crossmaglen Rangers (43).  A new dawn for Dromintee as they try to put a spoke in the bid for 7 in a row and record a famous victory over a team that has denied them a championship final success 5 times since the turn of the century. Maghery’s League decider victory over Cross will have given everyone renewed hopes for the championship.

All eyes will be on the” new look champions” who are expected to give senior debuts to a number of new players. Dromintee will be in the same boat with regards to debutants but at least we are guaranteed to see a football match.

Verdict- For both sides it will be all about the performance, the result though will be a win for the title holders.

Intermediate

Sunday August 21st

St Peter’s v Whitecross @ Tullysarran  6-30 pm

Last year’s beaten finalists and 2007 winners Whitecross have been handed a tough opener in St Peter’s who are still trying to add to their last success at this grade in 1981.Whitecross put Dorsey Emmett’s 4-20 to 0-01, Madden 1-14 to 0-8, Culloville 3-5 to 2-7 and Grange 0-11 to 1-7 to the sword before losing out 2-13 to 2-8 to Clann Eireann 12 months ago. Opponents Peter’s beat Culloville in a replay 0-12 to 1-6, An Port Mor 2-10 to 1-9 before crashing out in the quarter final to Madden 4-11 to 0-11.

After a poor start to the League Peter’s got back into promotion contention but finished with two losses to lose out and will be hoping for a good championship run. Whitecross have dropped away from the dizzy heights of last year and with key men stateside they do not look as formidable as last year

Verdict- Peter’s to confine Whitecross to the qualifier route

Culloville v St Paul’s  @ Keady 4-45pm

2011 champions Culloville have made their return to Senior League and Championship following their Intermediate League success so adding the Championship to their bow this year will be a huge bonus. St Paul’s the 2014 champions have gone in the opposite direction and are relegated to Intermediate B for next year.

Verdict -Two wins for Culloville in the League can be turned into a hat-trick with this Championship success.

Shane O’Neill’s v Mullaghbawn  @ Cullyhanna 4-45pm

Two sides who have had poor League campaigns. 1992 winners Mullaghbawn only managed one League win and their Championship pedigree has long since been diluted. Shanes, minus their stateside contingent, finished mid-table in Intermediate B and therefore will be up against their Championship rivals in the League next year. Mullaghbawn were beaten by An Port Mor 0-12 to 0-10 and went out in the qualifiers to Middletown 2-14 to 2-4. Shanes fared no better losing firstly to Clan Na Gael 1-12 to 1-9 and then Culloville 2-13 to 1-9.

Verdict-Both teams will be looking to kick-start their season through a championship run. Mullaghbawn to notch their second win of the year.

Junior

Friday August 19th

Ballyhegan v Clonmore @ Clann Eireann 7pm

Clonmore go into this contest fresh in the knowledge that they will be back to Intermediate next year following their league promotion which will see themup amongst the title favourites and hoping to improve on last year’s final loss to Tullysarran 1-13 to 0-8. Ballyhegan have not motored well in the league but can turn it on come championship. Following victories over St Patrick’s 11 2-8 to 0-12, this year’s opponents Clonmore 3-8 to 1-13 before making an unexpected quarter final exit at the hands of Killeavy 11 0-7 to 1-8.

Verdict- Only a point between them last year another tight contest expected again this time but Clonmore get the nod for victory.

Lissummon v St Michael’s @ Carrickcruppen 7pm

Lissummon got off to a terrific start in the League but faltered at the end to miss out on promotion. Last year after an opening round  round 2-15 to 0-7 win over Clann Eireann 11 Lissummon lost a second round replay to Crossmaglen 11 3-8 to 0-16. In qualifier two they were again on the wrong side of a one point defeat 0-8  to 0-7 at the hands of Crossmaglen 11.

St Michael’s are in the process of re-building and are going through a lean time at present. Two games last year in the Championship were defeats 3-10 to 0-6 by Derrynoose followed by a 0-15 to 1-9 qualifier loss to Crossmaglen 11.

Verdict- Lissummon to advance to round two.

Sunday August 21st

Collegeland v Dorsey Emmet’s @ Keady 6-30pm

One of the top ties of the Championship after both had good League campaigns with both right in the promotion mix to the end. Collegeland lost their two Intermediate Championship outings last year to Grange 2-15 to 1-10 and Clann Eireann 4-18 to 0-4 with opponents Dorsey fairing likewise in the same competition with losses to Whitecross 4-20 to 0-1 and Keady 3-9 to 1-6.  Following the drop down they will both fancy a Championship run.

Verdict- A close contest so don’t be surprised if it takes another game to decide this one.

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