The spotlight will fall on five venues in particular as the RTE Senior Championship concludes the Group stages this weekend.
Just one group - Group 1 - is decided with St. Eunan’s and Naomh Conaill already qualified for the quarter-final draw, having both won their first two matches. The remaining matches in that group are effectively dead rubbers, with most of the interest on the meeting of Naomh Muire and Malin at The Banks, with the losers finishing bottom and involved in a possible relegation play-off.
The other groups are all in the melting pot with 11 of the 12 teams still in with a chance of making the draw - Glenfin cannot make the quarter-final after losing their opening two games. Four Masters by virtue of their score difference are also qualified for the quarter-finals.
The big decisions still remain in Group 4 - the so-called Group of Death - and St. Michael’s victory over Kilcar in Towney (and the margin of that victory) has thrown it wide open. The Dunfanaghy based side are now in the driving seat and even a one point defeat against Glenswilly on Saturday evening will see them safely in the pot for the quarter-final draw.
Kilcar are expected to defeat Bundoran, but they are now relying on St. Michael’s to win their final match against Glenswilly as their best hope of survival. If Glenswilly get the win on Saturday evening at home to St. Michael’s then Kilcar will have to go on a scoring spree and register in the region of a 30+-point win over the Seasiders if they are to progress - a very tall order. The margin of their defeat to St. Michael’s on Sunday last could come back to haunt them.
The spotlight will be Pairc Naomh Columba as the reigning champions, Glenswilly, who showed a return to form last week in Bundoran, will have to be at their best to make sure they are in the draw. Nothing short of a win is any good to them. There should be another bumper crowd - there might even be some Kilcar supporters making the journey!
The big game here is in MacCumhaill Park on Saturday evening where MacCumhaill’s entertain Ardara. The other game in Glenfin sees Four Masters as visitors. For Glenfin, it looks as if they have nothing to play for but pride after losing their opening two games. Even if they win, they will still finish bottom, given that they have already lost to MacCumhaill’s (who are on two points).
Four Masters , by virtue of their superior scoring difference, cannot be caught, so it will be a winner takes all in MacCumhaill Park, with the home side needing to win and Ardara just needing a draw.
The race for honours in Group Three is very tight with all four teams still in the race. Termon, at home to Gaoth Dobhair, know that nothing short of a win will be any good if they are to advance. Gaoth Dobhair will be in the hat if they can get a draw. Termon shocked Gaoth Dobhair last year in Magheragallon so they have been suitably warned.
The other game in Dungloe see Killybegs as visitors and it is much the same here. Both sides have two points so it is a winner-takes-all. A draw would, more than likely, see the calculators in action to determine who has the best score difference. On that score Dungloe and Killybegs are still locked but Dungloe have scored more, which gives them a slight edge. But then if Termon can get the win and the game in Dungloe ends in a draw, it might take a group of mathematicians to work out the winners - with all four teams finishing on 3 points.
The race for a place in the quarter-final draw in the All Sports, Donegal Town Intermediate Championship is also heating up, although not groups will be completed this week. Because of Burt’s involvement in the hurling championship, some of the final round games in Group 2 will be not be played until next weekend.
In Group 1 there is a huge game in Buncrana on Sunday where the home team meet Naomh Columba with the winners assured of a quarter-final place. Milford can also make a strong case if they defeat Carndonagh.
In Group 2, Cloughaneely meet Burt and after defeating Naomh Colmcille last week, will be expected to almost cement their place in the quarter-final draw. The remaining two games - Cloughaneely v St. Naul’s and Burt v Naomh Colmcille - will be played next weekend.
In Group 3, Naomh Brid can assure themselves of top spot with a win at home to Downings, while Fanad Gaels and Aodh Ruadh will scrap for the second spot in Portsalon.