It promises to be a dazzling weekend of league activity in Donegal with decisive action taking place in all divisions, none more so than in Division One when Ardara and Naomh Conaill can close out the race for the Democrat Cup.
Ardara are first in action, switching on the lights at Pearse Park on Saturday evening, when they entertain Gaoth Dobhair (6pm), while Davy Brennan Park will see Naomh Conaill entertain Glenswilly on Sunday (2.30pm). If Ardara and Naomh Conaill win, they will finish level on points and they are also level in the head-to-head, which would necessitate a ‘League Final’ between the local rivals.
Gaoth Dobhair, who are not out of the race for league honours, will be without Neil McGee (in Australia) but they will surely put it up to the home side. The corresponding game in Magheragallon was the opening round of the league and Gaoth Dobhair had five points to spare. Indeed, Ardara’s early season form was hardly a pointer for league success, but they have turned their season around and apart from their championship exit at the hands of Kilcar, that Ardara spirit was to the fore.
The Paddy McGrath powered Ardara will be favourites to take the points as Gaoth Dobhair try to recover from losing their last game at home to Dungloe.
On Sunday, neutrals will be drawn to Glenties to see what happens in the re-match of Naomh Conaill and Glenswilly, after their championship encounter ended in shame. This time around, Glenswilly are without Michael Murphy and even though they badly need the league points, it’s hard to see beyond Naomh Conaill in getting a measure of revenge.
Depending on what happens in Ardara the previous night, Naomh Conaill will be fighting for a ‘League final’ spot or even playing for the Democrat Cup (should Gaoth Dobhair win against Ardara).
Verdict: Naomh Conaill
On Sunday also, Cloughaneely travel to Donegal Town (2.30) and need a win to get off the bottom of the table. Four Masters also need a point to make sure that they are not involved in any relegation play-off and have to do so without Karl Lacey (in Australia).
The ‘phone lines between Davy Brennan Park and Tirconaill Park will be lighting up as these games are very interlinked.
Verdict: Four Masters
Division One Table
P W D L Pts
Ardara 15 8 2 5 18
Naomh Conaill 15 9 0 6 18
Gaoth Dobhair 15 8 1 6 17
Dungloe 16 7 3 6 17
St Eunans 15 7 1 7 15
Four Masters 15 7 1 7 15
Malin 16 5 3 8 13
Glenswilly 14 4 4 6 12
Cloughaneely 15 4 3 8 11
There are two games in Division Two with the spotlight on the bottom of the table. Naomh Columba travel to champions Kilcar, while second placed St. Michael’s renew rivalry with MacCumhaill’s.
Naomh Columba have two games to play and can actually be involved in the promotion play-off, but realistically, they will be happy to avoid being involved in a relegation play-off, such is the closesness of the division. After Sunday, their final game is away to Glenfin, who are also deep in the relegation quagmire.
On form, wins for Kilcar and St. Michael’s are on the cards, which would leave the final game of the season, Glenfin v Naomh Columba, a very interesting tie. A place in the senior championship draw for 2012 is also in the mix as the top six teams in Division Two is the cut-off point.
Verdicts: Kilcar and St. Michael’s
Division Two Table
Kilcar 15 13 1 1 27
St Michael’s 15 11 1 3 23
Killybegs 16 7 2 7 16
Fanad Gaels 16 8 0 8 16
Bundoran 16 6 2 8 14
Naomh Columba 14 6 1 8 13
Mac Cumhaills 15 5 2 8 12
Glenfin 15 5 1 9 11
Termon 16 3 0 13 6
Naomh Mhuire, the front-runners for much of the season, have the chance to seal promotion when they travel to Newtowncunningham on Saturday (4.30). There is an added incentive as Naomh Colmcille dumped them out of the Intermediate Championship in a play-off, but have struggled in the league. They have games in hand but are still two points adrift at the bottom and need points badly to avoid the automatic drop spot.
Naomh Mhuire need just two points from their three remaining games but would love to clinch the title on Sunday, given their reversal in the Intermediate Championship.
Verdict: Naomh Mhuire.
There is also an important game in the Division on Sunday when Naomh Brid host Buncrana. The game is the final league game for the Inishowen side while it is the penultimate tie for the home side.
Both sides need the win, but going on their win over Naomh Mhuire in their last game, the home side have a great chance of putting themselves in the mix for promotion.
Verdict: Naomh Brid
Naomh Mhuire 17 12 2 3 26
Buncrana 19 10 1 9 21
Aodh Ruadh 18 10 0 7 20
Naomh Brid 18 9 1 8 19
Naomh Naille 15 7 3 4 17
Urris 19 8 1 10 17
Downings 18 7 2 9 16
Burt 15 6 4 5 16
Carndonagh 18 7 1 10 15
Milford 18 6 1 11 13
N Colmcille 15 5 1 9 11
JUNIOR B CHAMPIONSHIP
St. Eunan’s v Convoy - Saturday, 4.30
Verdict: St. Eunan’s
N Padraig, Lifford v N Ultan - Sunday, 2.30
Verdict: N Ultan
R Emmet’s v Red Hughs - Saturday, 4.30
Verdict: R Emmet’s
St. Michael’s v Glenfin - Saturday 4.30
Ardara v N Conaill - Saturday, 4.30
Verdict: N Conaill
Glenswilly v MacCumhaill’s - Saturday 4.30
Malin v Pettigo - Sunday, 2.30