Still a lot at stake in the race for the Dr Maguire Cup - Martin Doherty

Still a lot at stake in the race for the Dr Maguire Cup - Martin Doherty

Tom Comack sport@donegaldemocrat.com @dgldemocrat

Glenswilly’s senior championship reign is hanging by a thread ahead of the last of their group games against Kilcar in Towney on Sunday.

The least the champions must do is win. And the size of the win depends on the outcome of the meeting of Gaoth Dobhair and Ardara in Magheragallon.

After last weekend’s second round of games St Eunan’s and Naomh Conaill are the only teams to have their places booked in the quarter-finals.

And the only other certainty the second round threw up was that Naomh Muire, Dungloe and Four Masters are out of the championship race for 2017.

“There is still a lot of football to be played and there is still a lot to be decided in this weekend’s final round of group games,” said former Naomh Conaill player Martin Doherty.

“The big game in everyone’s eyes is the Glenswilly versus Kilcar game in Towney.

“It is a huge game for Glenswilly after they lost last weekend to Gaoth Dobhair.

“If they want to be 100% sure of coming out of the group, they have to go to Kilcar and win by seven points.

“To win by any margin is a tall order any day of the week never mind win by seven points.

“It will be especially difficult for Glenswilly given the hurt felt in Kilcar after last year’s county final.

“Kilcar are leading the league and are the form team. They have Stephen McBrearty back from America and Patrick McBrearty scored 2-2 against Ardara last Sunday.

“They have the pace of the three McHughs, Ryan, Mark and Eoin and they have Ciaran McGinley and Mark McHugh playing well in the middle of the field.

“Glenswilly only scored five points in Magheragallon against Gaoth Dobhair on Sunday evening. That kind of a return won’t count against Kicar.

“Michael Murphy, Gary ‘Copper’ McFadden, Ciaran Bonner, Caolan and Leon Kelly are going to have to play out of their skins if they have any chance and especially by a margin of seven points.

“A one point win for Glenswilly, given the current form of the two, might be even beyond the champions.

“But for a one point win to be enough, they need Ardara to win in Magheragallon against Gaoth Dobhair.

“A Glenswilly win in Kilcar and an Ardara win over Gaoth Dobhair would see Kilcar and Glenswilly qualify for the knockout stages,” says Doherty.

“But with Gaoth Dobhair rediscovering the winning formula against Glenswilly after five straight defeats in the league, it is difficult to see anything other than a home win in Magheragallon.”

Martin predicts wins for Kilcar and Gaoth Dobhair

St Michael’s lead Group A with wins over MacCumhaill’s and Bundoran, but mathematically they can be pipped by Bundoran and Malin for a place in the knockout stages.

They have to go to Connolly Park, Malin, this weekend for their last group game.

If Malin were to beat St Michael’s by nine points and Bundoran overcome MacCumhaills, St Michael’s would miss out.

“I would imagine Malin, after their win over MacCumhaill’s, will go into this weekend’s game confident that they can beat St Michael’s.

“But with Christy Toye back and Daniel McLaughlin, Colm McFadden and Martin McElhinney, St Michael’s should have enough firepower for Malin.

“Benny ‘Fildara’ McLaughlin and Declan Walsh played well for Malin last weekend. Benny ‘Fildara’ scored 1-8 against MacCumhaill’s, there should be little between the teams. But I do expect St Michaels to win.

“I also expect Bundoran with Jamie and Paul Brennan and Shane McGowan in top form, to come through at home against MacCumhaill’s in the other game in that group.”

Martin’s Verdicts - St Michael’s and Bundoran

Killybegs at home to Naomh Muire and Burt at home to Termon are the two games in Group C. Killybegs and Burt are joint leaders on three points, with Termon, on two. Naomh Muire have lost their two games in this group.

“ Killybegs, Burt and Termon, any two from those three, can qualify from this group.

“Burt at home to Termon is the big game. The winner of this game will definitely be in the quarter-final draw.

“Burt are the form team of the two. They drew with Killybegs in the first round in a game they were a little unlucky not to win. It took a late Hugh McFadden free to earn Killybegs a draw.

“They went to Naomh Muire last weekend and won by two albeit Naomh Muire were short a number of players. This was a good result for Burt. Sean and Paul McHugh, Mark Coyle and Joe Boyle are playing well for them.

“Termon, on the other hand, are on a bad run. They were well beaten by Killybegs last Saturday night and they suffered a heavy defeat away to Naomh Columba in the league the week before.

“They seem to be relying too much on Enda McCormack and Daire McDaid for scores.

“Termon will not fear going to Burt, but I feel home advantage will shade it for Burt.

“Killybegs once again have shown that league form goes out the window when it comes to the championship.

“The word is Eoghan Bán Gallagher will be back from his trial with the Brisbane Lions. But his availability will depend on whether or not Brisbane offer him a contract. “If he is offered a contract he won’t be allowed to play. His return would be a big boost.

“Regardless with Hugh McFadden in good form I expect them to have a little too much for Naomh Muire who are only playing for pride. Jack O’Brien and Hugh ‘Yank’ Boyle (in America) are huge losses for Naomh Muire.”

Martin’s Verdicts: Killybegs and Burt.

Naomh Conaill and St Eunan’s have won two games each in Group D. They are already looking forward to the quarter-finals.

They meet on Sunday in O’Donnell Park to determine who tops the group. Four Masters and Dungloe are the other teams in this group. They have both lost to Naomh Conaill and St Eunan’s.

“People will say the pressure is off St Eunan’s and Naomh Conaill this weekend.

“But the opportunity to avoid the possibility of quarter-final meeting with either Kilcar or St Michael’s, should be incentive enough to go for the win.

“But if they have any players carrying injuries they will not want to risk them with the quarter-final coming down the road.

“There is more at stake in the Four Masters versus Dungloe game. The winners of this game will retain senior status while the losers will be dragged into a relegation play-off.

“They both will go into this weekend’s game happy enough with their performances last weekend. It will be close but with home advantage I fancy Four Masters.”

Martin’s Verdicts: St Eunan’s and Four Masters.