Our eagerly anticipated Senior and Intermediate Championship semi finals take place this weekend. Eight teams are one step away from the Promised Land. Below we preview the semi final meetings and take a brief look at the Junior B Championship meetings and Senior and Intermediate Relegation Finals.
CONNACHT GOLD SENIOR CHAMPIONSHIP SEMI FINALS
St Mary’s v Annaduff (Saturday at 5.30 in Pairc Sean)
In the championship to-date Annaduff had a win and a loss in the group stages and last weekend in the quarter finals they ditched a hotly fancied Mohill side out of the competition at the second attempt. Will the replay benefit them or not? Well, only time will tell but the win over Mohill has elevated them into the spotlight and neutral observers have tipped that they will have a big say in the destination of the Fenagh Cup this year! However, that was also said last year and Annaduff will be anxious not to get caught up in the hype and expectation surrounding them this year. St Mary’s were unbeaten in their group games when the cruised past Allen Gaels and Kiltubrid and then they easily disposed of Bornacoola in the quarter finals. One wonders will their easy passage to the semi final be a disadvantage to them or is it an indication of their superiority and strength? Either way this semi final is expected to be a different ball game and a much tighter affair and as Annaduff know only too well from last year’s corresponding fixture St Mary’s have an abundance of players accustomed to the big occasion. Two questions have been posed in advance of the semi final and we offer some answers.
Q Will St Mary’s compete with the physical power of Annaduff?
A Bornacoola were physically powerful too so there is no reason why they shouldn’t
Q Will both teams look to last year’s meeting for confidence?
A Yes ……………………
St Mary’s will say to themselves – ‘we are fit for these boys’ – remember last year,
Annaduff will be saying ‘what happened to us last year won’t happen to us again.’
Annaduff last won the title back in 2004 while St Mary’s were winners more recently in 2007. When they met in the league, Annaduff recorded a 1-8 to 1-3 away win. But that was on the 28th of May and neither team will be focussing on that encounter. St Mary’s will have fond memories of ditching Annaduff out of the championship at this stage last year but that is history and the present is all that counts. Games between these two rival sides are always full of passion and Saturday will be no different. Both sets of players will be relishing the encounter. They both have very balanced teams, tight defences, mobile midfield pairings and capable forward lines. Games involving rival clubs are often tight and played close to the line and if both sides remain disciplined throughout the contest you would expect this to be a rip-roaring game of football. There is more at stake on Saturday evening than bragging rights – the teams should look to the bigger picture – a place in the County Final is at stake!
Ballinamore SOH v Glencar Manorhamilton (Saturday at 6.30 in Pairc Sean)
Glencar Manorhamilton and Ballinamore SOH had mixed runs in the group stages with both suffering defeats. In the quarter finals they were both comfortable winners so the form book would suggest a close contest is on the cards on Saturday evening. Ballinamore have bridged a 12 year gap in reaching the semi finals and their performances to date especially against Aughawillan have been hugely impressive. They also sit proudly on top of Division 2 and the habit of winning games in the league and championship is sure to boost their confidence. They have a lot of young talented players capable of mixing it with the experienced Manor men and if the occasion doesn’t get the better of them they are more than capable of causing an upset. Aside from their dominant performance against a Carrigallen side who offered little resistance in the group stages Manor don’t appear to have been setting the world alight. That poses two opposite questions – have they still the hunger or have they yet to hit form? Ballinamore will be hoping the latter isn’t the case! The Manor men are a formidable outfit when they get going and this developing Ballinamore side are sure to try and stifle their free flowing game. In their march to the semi final Glencar Manor had a better Scóring return (3-39 to Ballinamore’s 1-34) but the Ballinamore men have conceded less (0-27 to Manors 2-25). If the Scóring statistics are anything to go by Ballinamore’s ability to keep clean sheets will test a Manor forward line who are accustomed to finding the net and Manor have conceded two goals so Ballinamore may look to capitalise in front of the Manor goals. Incidentally, SOH’s are the only team to have come close to knocking Glencar Manor out of the championship in the last 3 years. They will remember only too well that quarter final meeting of 2009 and know they are more than capable of beating the champions and closer than ever now to that all important final. Thirty plus talented players have the potential to produce a thriller. Who has the greater need to win – a developing Ballinamore side or a Glencar Manor side in search of a 4-in-a-row? Will the new kids on the block be able to change the guard or will the current champions make it four finals in a row?
GWP INTERMEDIATE CHAMPIONSHIP SEMI FINALS
Drumkeerin v Gortletteragh (Sunday at 12noon in Pairc Sean)
Both teams have come agonisingly close to Intermediate Championship honours in recent years and yet this year neither team were expected to make it this far. Now that they have defied the odds they will both be hoping to make that all important final. Both teams mixed the good with the bad in the championship to-date. Interestingly, both teams were well beaten in the group stages by the other semi finalists Glenfarne Kilty and Melvin Gaels and then they turned their seasons around in the quarter finals when they both held the tag of underdogs. Gortletteragh were awesome when disposing of a hotly fancied Dromahair side while Drumkeerin were equally impressive in their win against Eslin. However, their fantastic quarter final victories will stand for nothing if they fall at the semi final stage. It is hard to pick a favourite in this game and even harder to predict a winner. They both have talented players throughout their ranks but this game I suspect will be decided by the team who displays the greater determination and spirit and as we all know they both are flawless in this area. A full blooded contest is on the cards on Sunday and one team will say farewell to the 2011 GWP Intermediate Championship – you decide who your money is on!
Melvin Gaels v Glenfarne Kiltyclogher (Sunday at 1.30 in Pairc Sean)
This is the first meeting in the Intermediate Championship of two teams who operate in Division One and this would indicate we are in for a close contest. Both teams enter the semi finals unbeaten and truth be told neither team have been tested to-date as both have recorded comfortable wins in the group and quarter final stages. They will both take a lot of confidence from their performances to-date but equally they would both have hoped to have had sterner tests. When the championship draw was made Melvin Gaels were penned as outright favourites and their league and championship performances to-date would justify the early confidence in them. They are now one step away from the final and this often proves to be a nervous time for favourites. Glenfarne Kiltyclogher were hugely impressive in their quarter final demolition of Glencar Manorhamilton. If they play with the same flair, intensity and togetherness they are sure to test the nerves of their neighbours. You would imagine the team who gets the better start will be the team that prevails in this contest so expect them both to come out all guns blazing going for the early kill. Both are young, developing teams who play an exciting brand of open football. Glenfarne Kiltyclogher have the comfort of the underdogs tag – the pressure is all on the Gaels. Will Glenfarne Kiltyclogher empty their tanks and end the championship hopes of another neighbour or will Melvin Gaels march on?
SENIOR AND INTERMEDIATE RELEGATION FINALS ON SUNDAY IN BALLINAMORE
Intermediate: Ballinaglera v St Mary’s at 12 noon
Senior: Allen Gaels v Cloone at 1.30
Four teams battling to save their championship status. The stakes are high and the games are sure to be tense and should go down to the wire.
GWP JUNIOR B CHAMPIONSHIP ROUNDS 2 AND 3 ON SUNDAY
Aughavas v Leitrim Gaels at 12noon (Group 3: three teams)
Aughavas won their opening game and face Leitrim Gaels who enter the competition this weekend.
Ballinamore SOH v Fenagh at 1.30 (Group 1: four teams)
Both teams have one win from two outings so this contest should be a decisive and tight encounter.
Glencar Manorhamilton v St Osnat’s Glencar at 12noon (Group 1: four teams)
Glencar Manor currently top their group with two wins from two and they face their North Leitrim neighbours who are bottom of the group.
Annaduff v Dromahair at 1.30 (Group 2: three teams)
Annaduff lost their opening game and now face Dromahair who open their account this weekend.
ENJOY THE WEEKEND FEAST OF FOOTBALL
MAY THE BEST TEAMS WIN
01-Sep-11 by Colette Fox – PRO