A 1-10 to 0-11 win over Dungloe last Saturday sent an injury hit Ardara to the top of the All-County League for the first time this season and a home win over second from bottom Cloughaneely this weekend will cement that position.
Elsewhere in the top flight, third placed Naomh Conaill, who are only a point behind Ardara, are expected to take the points against table-croppers Malin while Glenswilly face a potentially trip to Dungloe. Gaoth Dobhair, Four Masters and St Eunan’s will be left twiddling their thumbs, the Letterkenny side for the second week in succession. A week ahead of the All-Ireland quarter-final, the clubs will be forced to field without any of their county players.
Brian McCormick Division One, Saturday 7pm
Dungloe v Glenswilly
Dungloe were out of luck last weekend when their late fightback at Pearse Park came to nothing and they succumbed to a two-point defeat at the hands of new leaders Ardara.
Points from Noel McBride and Adrian Sweeney in the last three minutes ultimately proved inconsequential for the side managed by Declan Bonner, who, without any county players, might fancy their chances against Gary McDaid and John McGinley’s Glenswilly.
They had a free weekend last weekend following their exploits in the Raidio na Gaeltacht SFC quarter-final against St Eunan’s at MacCumhaill Park. That match finished level at 0-9 apiece and will be replayed next month, although no date has been confirmed as yet. In the league, Glenswilly sit fourth bottom with 10 points from their nine games, although with two games in hand in all the sides above them, bar Gaoth Dobhair, they are also just three off top spot in a competitive top flight.
There will be an opportunity for a number of fringe players to impress the management before the St Eunan’s fixture. Glenswilly rescued a point from a sometimes hot-tempered opening Division One game of 2011 in March at Foxhall as Michael Murphy’s ‘45’ minutes into added time sealed a dramatic share of the spoils.
Naomh Conaill v Malin
Twelve months ago Glenties was on its way to blowing its local Naomh Conaill side over the line to win the Raidio na Gaeltacht SFC for only the second time in their history, a significant part of the roller-coaster journey that took them to the Ulster SFC final against Crossmaglen Rangers.
This year, whatever hysteria there is in the town mainly concerns the fortunes of Jim McGuinness and the county side, upon which Naomh Conaill are well represented. Having abdicated their throne following the tumultuous one-point home loss to Glenswilly in the first round of the championship, Cathal Corey stepped aside and Tommy Gallagher now fills the void.
Despite their apparent discomforts, though, Naomh Conaill are healthily positioned in fourth place of the All-County League. They had their feet up last weekend but would’ve been boosted by the goal-scoring return of Leo McLoone the previous Saturday in the 1-12 to 0-8 home win over Gaoth Dobhair. Malin, for their part, have won only twice all season and currently sit bottom of the standings.
Verdict: Naomh Conaill.
Ardara v Cloughaneely
Things are going rather swimmingly at the minute for Ardara.
Although they blew a seven-point lead to lose to Saturday’s opponents, Cloughaneely, in the second leg of the first round of the championship, the scheduling of a third game meant a sidestep from facing their flying neighbours Kilcar in the quarter-final at a time when they were suffering from a spate of injuries.
Thomas Maguire, Gareth Concarr, Brendan Boyle, Damian Diver and Martin Sweeney’s various complaints meant they played no part in Letterkenny, while Conor Classon should be back from the United States come the quarter-final.
Ardara came through that third game with minimal fuss, Stephen Gildea netting a penalty and Stephen McHugh adding a second goal in a 2-10 to 0-7 win. Cloughaneely, for their part, have struggled a little of late having started the season competently on their return to the top division.
Success on home turf in the All-Ireland Gaeltacht means it has already been a year to remember for Joe McGarvey and his team but a look at the league table will provide certain cause for concern as the Falcarragh side sit second last on eight points.
Last Saturday, they lost out by a single point to Gaoth Dobhair at home but have decent firepower with the likes of Shaun McGarvey, Denis Boyle and Sean Maguire.
McGlynn’s Restaurant Castlefin Division Two, Saturday 7pm
Bundoran v St Michael’s
St Michael’s season is looking ever the brighter following their victory over Gaoth Dobhair in the SFC two weeks ago and with Glenfin their semi-final opponents, while there are four sides still vying for two spots on the other side of the draw, there is reason for certain optimism.
However, a trip to Bundoran without their four county players - Colm McFadden, Martin McElhinney, Daniel McLaughlin and Christy Toye - will undoubtedly dilute the capabilities of the Dunfanaghy-based team. But it will provide an opportunity to impress a week after the 1-9 to 0-9 loss at Kilcar.
Hosts Bundoran dipped their toes in the SFC for the first time in 19 years and started well enough against Four Masters before being picked off. However, their league form has been reasonably good, although they would’ve left Gaelic Park last weekend disappointed having lost 1-14 to 1-12 against second from last Sean MacCumhaill’s. An away win would see St Michael’s, who have three games in hand on Saturday’s opponents, jump in front of Bundoran.
Verdict: St Michael’s.
Sean MacCumhaill’s v Fanad Gaels
Sean MacCumhaill’s had Martin O’Reilly to thank for an excellent personal performance in their 1-14 to 1-12 win over Bundoran last weekend at the seaside.
Pat McNabb’s side are still second bottom of the standings but the away win means they are now seven in front of Termon and within a point of Glenfin and Naomh Columba. Fanad Gaels’ season looks like petering out. With five wins from 10 outings in the league, their symmetrical record looks like it will not be enough to get among the promotion hopefuls, whilst also appearing to be strong enough to beat the drop.
A one-point win at Killybegs last weekend showed their capabilities, which was just what was required following their 1-20 to 0-5 hammering at Bundoran’s hands in their previous outing.
McGlynn’s Restaurant Castlefin Division Two, Sunday 3pm
Termon v Naomh Columba
Time is really starting to run out for a Termon panel who are decimated from the side that reached the SFC final just three seasons ago.
Having dropped from Division One last term the Burn Road outfit are in danger of falling through the trapdoor once more. With only one win this term - away to St Michael’s at the Bridge in May - points have to be amassed quickly. Last Saturday, a six-point interval lead was squandered and Glenfin had Ciaran Moy to thank for a late winner in a 0-14 to 1-10 win.
If there are a couple of chinks of light for Termon, one can be the form of Christy Connaghan, who scored 1-8 against Glenfin. Also, five of their remaining seven games are at home, so the likes of Naomh Columba would be seen as a target to get some points in the board. For their part, the Glencolumbcille side are enjoying a decent enough season following their promotion last season. Anthony Molloy’s team are seven points in front of Sunday’s opponents and would be more than content to maintain a place in the middle of the table as well as keeping an eye on the IFC where they have beaten Milford away from starters.
Killybegs v Kilcar
A tasty local derby sees the in-form team in the county face the only side that have managed to beat them all season.
That Killybegs win came on the opening weekend of the season and since then, Kilcar have won nine out of 10 league games - their draw being with St Michael’s - and two legs of their championship opening round against none other than Killybegs. The ease of those two wins, particularly the second meeting in Towney, when Ciaran McGinley, Patrick McBrearty and Ashley Carr were the goalscorers in a 3-14 to 1-7 win, shows the improvement of James McHugh’s team.
However, on Sunday, McHugh will be missing a host of players, most notably his three county players Mark McHugh, McBrearty and Michael Hegarty but also a number of stalwarts such as Pauric Carr, Luke Carr, Patrick Gallagher injured. And Declan McCloskey and Conor McManus are unavailable while Glen McBrearty is on honeymoon.
Killybegs have fallen a rung or two since they reached the SFC final last season, but whilst they were also fighting relegation last term, now they have a good opportunity to make it back to Division One. Peter McGinley’s team have a chance to complete a fine league double over their understrength rivals.
Centra Supermarkets Division Three, Sunday 3pm
Burt v Downings
There is only a point between Burt and Downings in the nether regions of the division and with the margins so thin perhaps home advantage will prove pivotal. The sides have not met one another this term and the feather in Burt’s hat is the fact they are the only team to have got the better of Naomh Mhuire.
Aodh Ruadh v Naomh Mhuire
The top two meet in the game of Division Three with Aodh Ruadh hopeful of getting in front of the hugely impressive Naomh Mhuire, who enjoyed a routine 1-14 to 0-5 IFC win over Naomh Columba on Saturday evening. For their part, Aodh Ruadh have lost just one of their last eight in the league and managed to get past Fanad Gaels in a titanic opening round of the championship.
Verdict: Aodh Ruadh
St Naul’s v Carndonagh
St Naul’s have a heavy reliance on Stephen Griffin but should still have too much in their lockers for a Carndonagh side who are haunted by the threat of relegation. Griffin scored an excellent 1-10 against Naomh Brid in the IFC.
Verdict: St Naul’s.
Naomh Colmcille v Buncrana
Newtowncunningham outfit Naomh Colmcille might’ve left the Banks a little despondent following a 12-point IFC pasting at Naomh Mhuire’s hands but with a second leg to come can still hold certain hope. Buncrana sit in third and can still get out of the division but with only seven games left, while some of their opponents in the race have 10, they need a good conclusion to the campaign.
Naomh Brid v Urris
Positioned in fifth place in the table, Naomh Brid will be hopeful of maintaining that position at least when Urris, who are a place behind, come to town. However, Naomh Brid’s three games in hand over Sunday’s opponents means the cushion might be a little more comfortable than at first glance. Urris won the previous league encounter 1-10 to 0-11 in Clonmany.
Verdict: Naomh Brid.
Busanna Feda O’Donaill Junior A Football Championship
Red Hugh’s v Naomh Ultan
Red Hugh’s and Naomh Ultan might be at the same stage of the Junior A Football Championship but there is marked difference in their form going into the game on Sunday.
Visitors Naomh Ultan have already picked up three wins in the competition, having defeated Moville home and away before winning the first leg against Red Hugh’s on a 1-9 to 0-9 scoreline last month in Dunkineely.
The Killygordon side were quickest out of the blocks an could have been ahead at the interval if they had taken a their chances. The home side were on terms at the break, 1-3 to 0-6, thanks to a goal from Aaron Byrne, after he was set up by good work by Aiden Duddy and Cian Kennedy.
The second half remained very close with Cian Kennedy geting one magnificent point while close to the end Daniel McGlynn pulled off a good save to deny Red Hugh’s an equalising score.
Both teams are going well in Division Four of the All-County League. Naomh Ultan sit top with 15 points from their 11 games contested, while Red Hugh’s are fourth, with Naomh Padraig Lifford and Naomh Padraig Muff in-between.
Red Hugh’s are three points behind Sunday’s opponents but have two games in hand. That’s for another day, though, and having already defeated Naomh Ultan in the league, will know that’s the minimum required to keep themselves alive in the JFC.
Verdict: Red Hugh’s.