Familiar foes meet in Down
Kilcoo and Burren meet each other in the knock-out stages of the Down Senior championship for the fourth year in a row. The difference this time around is that they meet in the semi-final after Kilcoo won the last 3 times in the final. Kilcoo have not been operating at their best but Burren takes the best out of them and a cracker is expected with Burren trying to halt a Kilcoo 5 in-a-row bid.
In the second semi-final Bryansford take on Clonduff in what should be another close run affair. Can Ross Carr lead his club to the final in his first year in charge a stage they last graced and won in the millennium year? Ford will be hoping to get back to avenge a title defeat by Burren 6 years ago.
SFC Burren v Kilcoo
Burren beat Ballymartin, Kilcoo and Mayobridge
Kilcoo beat Saval, lost to Burren and beat Loughinisland and CPN
27th May Div 1 Kilcoo 2-13 Burren 1-11
7th August SFC Burren 2-10 Kilcoo 1-7
A repeat scenario for this pair, last year Burren beat Kilcoo in an earlier round but Kilcoo then won at the knockout stage when it mattered. This season Burren have repeated the dose but can Kilcoo? It’s not looking likely; to beat Burren in the championship you need that touch of class, it won’t be enough to just grind out a result.
This match is a repeat of the last three finals all of which Kilcoo won. However, Kilcoo are a pale shadow of their former selves without the pace and energy of the Johnstons up front, neither brother figured for Kilcoo in Glenn last Friday so it would be a huge gamble to throw them in to this match having had no game time all season. Conor Laverty is Kilcoo’s main man up front but is a lone figure without either Ryan or Jerome to link up with and Kilcoo have failed to impose themselves on the scoreboard against first division opposition in the championship to date.
Though Donal O’Hare is still in America, playing in their championship for Monaghan who have reached the final, Burren have compensated for his loss by taking Cathal Murdock out of nets to hit their free kicks. Shay McArdle only came into the quarter final after Shane McNamee was sent off but will need to be scoring for the whole sixty minutes this time out. Sean Murdock too will need a big game and the likes of Eamon Toner and Anton McArdle who were on the line the last day will have a part to play on Friday if Burren are to progress.
Since 2009 the team that beat Mayobridge have gone on to win the championship, that year the ‘Bridge were going for six in a row. Kilcoo are looking five in a row this year, only Burren 1983 to 1988 have ever managed six in a row. So there’s a lot of history at play in this fixture and this Burren team can halt Kilcoo’s march to a fifth title.
SFC Bryansford v Clonduff
Bryansford beat Glenn, Castlewellan and Downpatrick
Clonduff beat Ballyholland, Mayobridge and Castlewellan
9th May Div 1 Bryansford 2-12 Clonduff 1-13
2nd September Div 1 Clonduff 2-9 Bryansford 2-11
Both these teams are unbeaten and only sixty minutes from a rare championship final appearance; Ford were last there six years ago when they lost to Burren and last won it in 2003 while Yellows last final appearance was a triumphant one at the turn of the millennium way back in 2000.
Ford edged both league meetings but that won’t count for much on Sunday evening. In the championship Ford were quite brilliant against Castlewellan and quite ordinary against Downpatrick and will need to bring their ‘A’ game to this semi if they are to progress.
Yellows were impressive in all their championship matches so far and their strength in depth has been a feature with all their games turned in their favour by introductions from their bench.
No better teams to serve up a classic for the purists and wouldn’t it be ironic (and great for the local game) if Bryansford who have gone to extraordinary lengths to win a Championship this decade were to get there under home grown management. Yellows may be just that bit too inexperienced at this level of competition to pull it off but there would be few begrudgers if Ross Carr were to reach the Final in his first term at the helm of his local Club.
IFC Carryduff v Bredagh
Carryduff lost to Bredagh, beat Bosco, Saul and St Johns
Bredagh beat Carryduff, Saul and Tullylish
27th May Div 2 Carryduff 0-13 Bredagh 2-17
30th July IFC Bredagh 3-20 Carryduff 1-17 (AET)
Neither of these city sides have won this title before, indeed none of the four teams left have enjoyed Intermediate success. These are the two biggest Clubs in Down and their football breakthrough is overdue. Bredagh would be seen as the slicker more polished side having been knocking about this title for the past number of years while Carryduff have run into good form at the right time.
Bredagh have strong defenders in Declan O’Hara on the square; decent man markers in Owen and Emmett Costello and a brilliant link man in Tommy McElroy while in attack Donal Hughes brings the hardness a County hurler possesses and Alan Davidson is regarded as a county quality football talent.
Carryduff have a strong midfield in Conor Cassidy and Johnny Henry, a flying wing back in Josh Connery and football nous in Ronan Lawlor but it is in their full forward line they possess winning quality with Joe McFlynn a more than able focal point and Michael McGrath and James Guinness predatory corner forwards.
Carryduff to cause the mildest of upsets, it’s a derby after all.
IFC An Riocht v Darragh Cross
An Riocht beat Darragh Cross, Glasdrumman and Drumaness
Darragh lost to An Riocht, beat Shamrocks, Glasdrumman and Liatroim
27th May Div 2 An Riocht 0-14 Darragh Cross 1-13
29th July IFC an Riocht 1-17 Darragh Cross 0-13
These two have crossed paths in each of the last two championship seasons and already this year also; all those matches went narrowly in favour of the Mourne men so a Darragh success is overdue.
Darragh won’t go in with any inferiority complex having won at Dunavil in the league this season.
Darragh rested players in last weekend’s league match in St Johns and lost by sixteen points as a result while An Riocht were full strength against IFC holders Loughinisland and won by fourteen.
It will be interesting to see if Darragh can recover the momentum their tremendous win over Liatroim in the quarter finals had given them. That day Darragh were at their best and unsettled the favourites with the huge intensity they brought to that match. An Riocht have not had to be at their best in the championship but have been doing enough, the question for them is can they step it up now there are no second chances.
The hurt of last year’s Final loss to Loughinisland can drive the Mourne men on to victory this term.
JFC St. Michaels v Teconnaught
St Michaels beat Ballykinlar
Teconnaught beat St Pauls
Teconnaught should have too much for Saint Pauls; playing week in, week out at a higher level has to be a tremendous advantage for Teconnaught though St Pauls should be the team playing with confidence coming in off the back of a promotion winning performance last Friday while Teconnaught suffered a ten-point home defeat the same night. For all that in a one off winner takes all encounter Dan Rice’s Teconnaught get the nod.
JFC Dundrum v Drumgath
Dundrum beat Mitchels and Bright
Drumgath beat Ardglass and Aughlisnafin
Fourth Division leaders Dundrum were everybody’s favourite for this title until it was realised that Third Division promotion chasing Drumgath were also in it.
Dundrum are no strangers to Junior titles but Drumgath are equally familiar with Intermediate crowns.