Football fans will have plenty to get excited about this weekend when the Masonite Senior and GWP Intermediate Championship gets down to the knock-out stages when the Quarter-Finals are played.
The knock-out stages always bring their own drama and excitement and the four pairings at Senior level are certainly causing their own debate while the Intermediate quarter-finals are equally exciting. Just as important are the Senior and Intermediate relegation semi-finals with a lot of clubs desperately anxious to avoid the drop to a lower grade. Below we take a brief look at the games:
Senior Championship Quarter-Finals
Carrigallen v Annaduff
Saturdays clash in Cloone is an intriguing contest, not least because both had mixed enough paths to the quarter-finals. Carrigallen demolished Aughnasheelin but fell to Bornacoola while Annaduff lost heavily to Mohill but a one point win over St. Marys was enough to see them through.
Both sides tend to suffer against physically bigger teams. Carrigallen will hope that Noel Doonan is back in their ranks and they have the ability to move at speed and run up big scores, so Annaduffs defence will have to be wary.
Annaduff havent run up big scores but showed great resilience against St. Marys. The feeling is that if Annaduff can manÓge to keep the score tight, there is no better team at grinding out a result with Ray Cox so dangerous. Yet one feels that Carrigallens greater Scóring ability may just be enough to carry the day here.
Glencar/Manorhamilton v Ballinamore Sean OHeslins
Many pundits are predicting this game as a possible shock but Champions Glencar/Manorhamilton wont be taking Ballinamore Sean OHeslins for granted next Saturday.
The Ballinamore men have grown with confidence in each game so far and with a strong midfield and a mobile attack, OHeslins have the attacking talent to cause any team a problem. But they will be worried by conceding 2-22, the highest by any of the defences remaining in the championship.
Glencar/Manor have the best defence so far of the quarter-finalists, conceding just 1-13 while their attack is also moving quite well. One area of concern, however, may be their slow starts inÓgames which could yet prove costly.
On form so far, this game is destined to be a shoot-out. Ballinamore will take real stopping and it wouldnt be a surprise if there was a surprise here. But James Glancy and Adrian Croal are in fantastic form and they should see the champions through.
Kiltubrid v Melvin Gaels
Melvin Gaels would have been many peoples favourites before the championship began but their struggles so far has seen their stock drop while Kiltubrids displays have only served to reinforce a growing confident that they will be in the shake-up for the Fenagh Cup.
The Kinlough men will be very alarmed by their second half showing against Glencar/ManorYet they will remember the numerous chances they created in the first half and a little improvement in accuracy would make a physically powerful Gaels team very difficult to overcome.
Kiltubrid have a real cutting edge as Dara McKiernan, James Gill & Emmet MahonÓgive them a very dangerous full-forward line. Possessing the second best defensive record from the group stages, one would also have to be impressed by the fact that they have yet to really hit top gear.
Kiltubrid will find the intensive and committed Melvin Gaels style hard to combat but unless there is a drastic improvement in accuracy, Kiltubrid certainly have the attacking tools to go through here.
Mohill v Bornacoola
Sundays derby clash in Ballinamore is one to savour and irregardless of form, both sides would be confident that they are more than capable of beating their neighbours.
Mohill have been something of a jekyll & hyde this campaign, mixing a brilliant attack where Philly McGuinness & Ronan Kennedy have stood out with a defence that has conceded some sloppy goals.
Bornacoola will be alarmed by their loss to Aughnasheelin, although the return of Michael Duignan is a massive boost. Attitude has a lot to do with it and if they get it right, the physically imposing Bors have both the firepower and strength to see off their neighbours.
Both defences have question marks over them and odds and form would suggest Mohill. But Bornacoola are always capable of an upset and games between these teams often come down to a moment of madness or genius – it may even be a draw!
Intermediate Championship Quarter-Finals
Glenfarne/Kilty v St. Caillins
Glenfarne/Kilty are the surprise packages of this years Intermediate competition while a young Fenagh St. Caillins team have come through two tough meetings with Aughawillan & Ballinaglera. Glenfarne/Kilty may have a slight advantage in that they are playing a Division higher in the League while their mix of experience and youth is certainly doing well for them.
Fenagh missed out on promotion due to Scóring difference and they struggled to draw with Ballinaglera after a good first showing against Aughawillan. A few years ago, this would have been considered a mis-match due to Fenaghs ability and experience but they have struggled in recent years. Glenfarne/Kilty are coming along nicely, winning a tough group, so the north Leitrim menÓget the vote here.
Gortletteragh v St. Marys
On the face of it, Gortletteragh would appear to have a relatively straight-forward task here – a Division One first string team against a second string side who were relegated from Division Two.The Carrick side may have oceans of experience and a few talented young performers but they wont be helped by the fact that they must focus on the Senior teams relegation battle with Aughnasheelin the previous evening.
Gortletteragh have only conceded nine points in the championship so far and have run up a few big scores. The Intermediate Championship has seen quite a few of their dreams shattered in recent years but Gortletteragh should have far too much strength and ability for Marys in this one.
Aughawillan v Dromahair
Two of the pre-competition favourites for the title meet in an intriguing game on Sunday – Aughawillan carry the title of favourites but if Dromahair rediscover the verve of their Celebrity Bainisteoir exploits, this game will go down to the wire. Dromahairs exertions in the RTE programme seemed to drain their reserves at just the time they needed it but a vital win over Drumkeerin may just be the spark they need to get back on track.
Aughawillan would have a lot of expectations on them, both internal and external, and they have recovered well from a rocky patch in the League. They have quite a few players more than capable of dominating this contest but they will have to guard against a Dromahair team who will relish being underdogs. But the odds would still appear to favour Aughawillan advancing to the semi-final after a tough battle.
Cloone v Glencar/Manor
Cloone, no more thanÓgortletteragh, are in the unenviable position of being hot favourites against a second string team. However, Glencar/Manor do have five senior championship medalists in their line-up and their demolition of Annaduff will serve as a warning.
Cloone have been solid rather than spectacular, over-coming two second string teams. This will be another step up for them but they have made a bit of progress in recent years and they should be too strong for Glencar/Manor this time.
Senior Relegation Semi-Finals
Allen Gaels v Drumreilly; Aughnasheelin v St. Marys
Two huge games with potentially massive consequences. Drumreilly and AughnasheelinÓgo into the game with some degree of confidence after their last group games but Allen Gaels and St. Marys are definitely not to be taken lightly, both going out of the championship by the margin of just a point.
Despite poor displays in both their games, Marys will start as many peoples favourites against Aughnasheelin but they will need a drastic improvement against an Aughnasheelin team who could have dumped Bornacoola out of the championship if they had more confidence in their ability. This will be tighter than most expect but Marys may just sneak it.
The other game is difficult to call – Allen Gaels were desperately unlucky to be caught by Melvin Gaels but were given a big beating by Glencar/Manor. Drumreilly didnt perform in their first game against Kiltubrid but showed enough against Ballinamore to suggest that they are back on form.Again, it is difficult to know who carries the most momentum but Drumreilly get the dreaded vote.
GWP Intermediate Relegation Semi-Finals
Ballinaglera v Drumkeerin; Allen Gaels v Annaduff
The draw here sees the two first teams facing each other while two second strings are in the other game. Ballinaglera needed just a point to advance against Fenagh and have shown an ability to perform when their backs are against the wall. Drumkeerin wont make it easy but their losses in personnel this year is killing their chances and Glera should just shade it. In the other game, Annaduff suffered a big loss last weekend but they probably have enough strength to see off last years Junior Champions.
This full report is available thanks to John Connolly and the Leitrim Observer
– its available in this weeks
21-Aug-09 by LeitrimObserver.ie