County championship comes to the forefront

Tom Comack


Tom Comack

Naomh Conaill versus Glenswilly takes centre stage once again this weekend with a full programme of second leg games in the Senior Football Championship going ahead.

Naomh Conaill versus Glenswilly takes centre stage once again this weekend with a full programme of second leg games in the Senior Football Championship going ahead.

The game is on Sunday afternoon in Davy Brennan Memorial Park and with the first leg meeting in Pairc Naomh Columba ending in a low scoring 0-6 each draw, the second leg is again the highlight of the weekend.

It is just one of eight games down for decision with five on Saturday and three on Sunday.

Champions Naomh Conaill and Glenswilly are not the only ones fighting for their championship lives at the weekend. Dungloe, Malin, Killybegs, Bundoran, Termon, Cloughaneely and Sean MacCumhaills are also in the same boat having lost their home games to St. Eunan’s, Glenfin, Kilcar, Four Masters, Gaoth Dobhair, Ardara and St. Michael’s respectively.

The pressure is particularly on Killybegs, Dungloe, Malin, Bundoran and Sean MacCumhaills, who all failed to take advantage in the first leg games at home.

Dungloe travel to O’Donnell Park where St. Eunan’s provide the opposition; Killybegs travel to Towney; Malin face Glenfin in Glenfin; Bundoran face Four Masters in Tir Chonaill Park, and MacCumhaills play St. Michael’s at the Bridge in Dunfanaghy.

There are also three second leg games in the preliminary round of the Intermediate Championship.

Saturday July 2nd. - 7.30 pm - Tir Chonaill Park

Four Masters v Bundoran

Four Masters will definitely be without Barry Monaghan (hamstring) while manager Joe Lacey also has concerns over the fitness of Benny Byrne (groin) and his son, Josh, also on the treatment table. There are also concerns over Conor McMonagle, who picked up an injury in the local Inter-Firms competiton.

“The game is a week or two too early for Barry (Monaghan) and he is not going to be fit while it is touch and go with Benny (Byrne) and Josh (Lacey), but the good news is that we will have Karl (Lacey), he has only played one game for us all year, and Michael Doherty back,” said Four Masters manager Joe Lacey.

Barry Keaney, Bundoran has James Keaney, who missed the first leg game through suspension, Shane Moohan, who just returned from holidays prior to the first game, available to him for the trip to Tir Chonaill Park.

“We were very disappointed that we did not perform in the second half the last day. The boys were very disappointed with themselves in the dressing room about that and they are determined not to let it happen on Saturday night. Our main focus is on consolidating our position in the league and if we can force the tie to a third game it will give us valuable championship experience,” said Barry.

Despite the absence of Monaghan and the doubts over Byrne and Lacey, with Karl Lacey in the line-up and the return of Michael Doherty, to the attack Four Masters should have a little too much craft and experience for what is a young Bundoran.

First leg: Bundoran 0-9, Four Masters 2-13

Verdict: Four Masters

Saturday July 2nd. - 7.30 pm - Pairc Taobhaoige

Glenfin v Malin

Glenfin with the home win in the bank on the face of it have all the hard work done. But manager Francie Martin was this week not taking anything for granted.

Since the first game Glenfin have lost Paddy O’Connor to the U.S. Full-back Gavin McDermott has been struggling with injury in recent weeks but has recovered and will once again man the edge of the square.

“We are taking nothing Malin for granted on Saturday evening just because we won the away leg. Our home record has not been good all year and besides Malin came here in the league last year and beat us well,” Martin insisted.

Malin will be without Declan Walsh, who has also departed to the U.S. for the summer but expect to have Paddy Kelly, who missed the trip to Dungloe at the weekend, back in midfield alongside his brother Anthony.

“Paddy (Kelly ) will be avalable again but we have a number of players suffering from knocks and it will be the weekend before we know if we will have them. We were naturally disappointed to lose at home, but we have a strange record with Glenfin in recent season. Last year they beat us at home too in the league and we went to Glenfin also in the league and beat them so hopefully we can do the same on Sunday,” said Martin Lafferty, Malin manager.

First leg: Glenfin 3-12, Malin 2-12

Verdict: Glenfin

Saturday July 2nd. - 7.30 pm - Towney

Kilcar v Killybegs

Surprisingly Kilcar won the first game rather easy in Fintra against a depleted Killybegs, who expect to have Shane Boyle and Christopher Murrin back from injury,.

“Killybegs were very understrength the last day and they have a number of players back and will be much stronger on Saturday night. We certainly are not reading too much into the first leg, it is a whole new ball game on Saturday night,” said Kilcar boss James McHugh.

However, with Barry Cannon and Pauric Gallagher still on the long term injury list and Conal Molloy struggling to be ready, Killybegs are but a pale shadow of the side that reached last year’s county final.

“We have a number of players back alright but we still are short a number of key players and heading into Kilcar without the full squad of players is a tall order for us and we know we will have a real battle on our hands to stay in the championship,” said Killybegs manager Peter McGinley.

There are rumours that Galway United player Shaun Kelly, who was released from his contract along with all the other Galway players, may be a late inclusion for Killybegs.

Luke Carr, shoulder injury, is the only injury concern in Towney this week. However, with Ashley Carr, in fine scoring form and Michael Hegarty, Mark McHugh, Patrick McBrearty along with former Cork forward Conor McManus in their ranks it all points to home win.

First leg: Kilcar 0-14, Killybegs 0-6

Verdict: Kilcar

Saturday July 2nd. - 7.30 pm - O’Donnell Park

St. Eunan’s v Dungloe

Since doing the business in the opening leg in Dungloe, St. Eunan’s have lost Peter Devine, Mark McGowan and Eamonn Doherty to the U.S. and Packie Kennedy to London.

On the plus side for manager Jonathan Scanlon will have Rory Kavanagh back on board though there are doubts over the experienced pair of John Haran and Eddie Brennan, both on the injured list.

Paddy Bonner( broken bone in his hand) is definitely out of the reckoning for Dungloe, while soccer commitments with Finn Harps may also rule out Dungloe’s man of the match the first day Martin Redmond.

“We did not perform at all the first day and we feel we let ourselves down and we know that we are really going to have to step it up especially in O’Donnell Park if we are to remain in the championship,” insisted Dungloe manager Declan Bonner.

Dungloe are on a decent run of form and top the Division One table, but it is going to take a much improved performance from the first leg to see Declan Bonner and his men if the are to take this tie to a third game. First leg: Dungloe 0-7, St. Eunans 0-9

Verdict: St. Eunan’s

Saturday July 2nd - 6 pm - Dunfanaghy

St. Michael’s v Sean MacCumhaill’s

St. Michael’s survived a late Paddy McNulty revival to win the first leg in Ballybofey with two points to spare.

While Eddie Harkin has lost Antoin McFadden to the U.S. with Brian McLaughlin and Ciaran ‘the Rock’ Gallagher, both who missed the MacCumhaill Park game through injury available again, the expectation is that St. Michael’s will complete the job on Saturday.

A big plus too is the fact that Christy Toye is further down the road in his rehabilitation and has a few more games under his belt.

“It was close enough the last day at the finish, but we felt if we took all our chances especially in the first half we could have been further ahead at half-time and then we allowed them back into in the second half. But we are playing better now than we were back then and going on the last game and the fact that we are at home we would expect to win it,” said Harkin.

With centre back Gary Dunnion getting married on Friday and Stephen O’Reilly and Rory Patton out injured MacCumhaill’s manager Pat McNabb has a job on his hands to rally his troops for what is a make or break tie for the Finnsiders.

“The timing of the game could not be worse for us. With Gary’s wedding we thought we had the game off and we had agreement with St. Michael’s to put it back, but we only found out today for certain that the game was going ahead for definite. Without Gary, Stephen and Rory we know we are up against it, but I’m still confident that we will put up a challenge and make a game of it,” said Pat McNabb.

First leg: Sean MacCumhaills 0-10, St. Michaels 0-12.

Verdict: St. Michael’s

Sunday July 3rd. - 3.30 pm - Davy Brennan Memorial Park

Naomh Conaill v Glenswilly

The big game of the weekend once again brings two of the championship heavyweights together. With the first game ending in a draw, this is a real championship winner-takes-all with defending champions Naomh Conaill putting their title on the line against one the leading pretenders Glenswilly.

The champions are boosted by the return of Leo McLoone and Ciaran Boyle, who both missed the first game and their presence along with home advantage could very well tip the scales in favour of Cathal Corey and the champions.

“Unless we get another draw there is no second chance on Sunday. There will be no hiding place on Sunday in Glenties, and we are going to have to play very well and much better than we did the first day if we are to stay in the championship. It’s as simple as that,” said Cathal Corey.

Meanwhile, Gary McDaid, who is joint manager in Glenswilly along with John McGinley, sees Sunday’s game as a massive challenge for Glenswilly.

“Naomh Conaill are not only the best team in Donegal, but one of the top teams in Ulster. They lost last year to Crossmaglen in the Ulster final and Crossmaglen then went on to win the All-Ireland. We see it as a massive challenge and one we are looking forward too. The only other thing I would like to say about it is that I hope Michael Murphy is treated by the referee like all the other players. We feel that Michael has to work twice as hard as others to win frees and all we want him to be treated the same as the rest of the players,” said McDaid.

Kealan Kelly, Barry Molloy, Brian Farrelly and Gerard McGrenra are all carrying knock this week in Glenswilly, but all are expected to be fit by the weekend.

First leg: Glenswilly 0-6, Naomh Conaill 0-6

Verdict: Naomh Conaill

Sunday July 3rd. - 5.30 pm - Burn Road

Termon - Gaoth Dobhair

Goath Dobhair had it all their own way in the opening game in Magheragallon and Termon, who are really struggling to find their form this season, have done nothing in the intervening time to suggest that they have turned the corner and found the winning formula.

Christy Conaghan, released from Finn Harps in recent weeks, is the only addition to the panel since the first leg and will definitley give Brendan Gallagher’s outfit a little more bite up front.

“With the exception of Christy (Conaghan) the team will be very much along the lines of that which played in Magheragallon. And going on that game we have a good deal of ground to make up, but to be honest while we will be going all out to win our main focus is on the league and moving away from the bottom of the Division Two table,” said Termon team spokesman.

But with Neil and Eamonn McGee and Kevin Cassidy in the engine room and James Carroll and Fionan Diver scoring freely it is difficult to see anything other than a Gaoth Dobhair victory and a safe passage into the quarter-final draw.

First leg: Gaoth Dobhair 1-12, Termon 0-5

Verdict: Gaoth Dobhair

Sunday July 3rd. - 7.30 pm - St. Finian’s Park

Cloughaneely v Ardara

Ardara had five points to spare at the end of the first meeting. But a late goal from Kevin Byrne, of the softish variety, the margin somewhat flattered the locals in a tie that was always close.

Conor Classon (Ardara) and Lee McFadden (Cloughaneely) have joined the exodus to the U.S. while Patrick Gallagher will have to plan without the experienced Peter McHugh, who is away for the weekend. “The winning margin the last day was certainly not reflective of the game. Cloughaneely are a good outfit and it will take a big performance to get a result especially in Falcarragh if we are to come away with the win,” suggest Patrick Gallagher, the Ardara boss.

Gallagher has also concerns over the availability of Kenneth Doherty, who is not due back from holidays until Saturday night.

Cloughaneely manager Joe McGarvey, also has holiday concerns with Brian Cuffe away on his travels while Shaun McGarvey is not due back in the country until Sunday.

Ciaran Scanlon, Paddy McCafferty and Sean McBride are also on the Cloughaneely treatment table this week.

“We have few boys away on holidays and we a few carrying niggly injuries but on the plus side we have both Kevin Mulhern and Joe Friel, two men we did not have the last day, and that is a big boost,” said Joe McGarvey, who led his side to All-Ireland Gaeltacht glory since the first leg game.

First leg: Ardara 2-9, Cloughaneely 0-10

Verdict: Cloughaneely

Busanna Feda O’Donaill Intermediate Championship, preliminary round second leg

Thursday June 30th. - 8pm - Trummon

Naomh Brid v St. Naul’s

David Walsh and Naomh Brid, who have shown good form in recent weeks to keep their championship hopes alive against a St.Naul’s side without their scorer-in-chief Stephen Griffin. Griffin misses the game through suspension.

First leg: St. Naul’s 1-12, Naomh Brid 2-3.

Verdict: Naomh Brid

Saturday July 2nd. - 7.30 pm - Carndonagh

Carndonagh v Naomh Colmcille

Naomh Colmcille won the first game with five points to spare and also defeated Carndonagh since in the league which suggests they have the Indian sign on the Inishowen men at present.

First leg: Naomh Colmcille 0-14, Carndonagh 1-6.

Verdict: Naomh Colmcille

Saturday July 2nd. - 7.30 pm - Portsalon

Fanad Gaels v Aodh Ruadh

It took a late Michael ‘Sticky’ Ward to decide the first game in Fr.Tierney Park, in a tie that could have gone either way. It promises to be another close encounter on Saturday evening with home advantage swinging it in favour of Paddy McConigley and company.

First leg: Aodh Ruadh 1-8, Fanad Gaels 0-10

Verdict: Fanad Gaels