Milford depleted for big clash with Aodh Ruadh

Michael Murphy Sports and Leisure Intermediate Championship

Milford depleted for big clash with Aodh Ruadh

Aodh Ruadh and Milford, two of the favourites for the Intermediate championship, meet on Saturday in Convoy, in the first of the Michael Murphy Sport and Leisure Intermediate Championship semi-finals. (Throw-in 12 noon)

They are two of the form teams in both the league and the championship and both are already looking forward to playing at a higher level next season.

Milford will play in the top division in Donegal for the first time while Aodh Ruadh will replace them in the second division.

And despite being 60 minutes away from a possible place in the Intermediate championship final, Aodh Ruadh manager, Peter Gallagher, insists that the Division 3 league crown is the number one priority at Fr Tierney Park.

“The main objective at the start of the year was to win promotion and once we secured that the next priority was to win the league title,” the Aodh Ruadh boss told the Democrat.

“That is the main priority now and anything that happens in the championship is a bonus.”

Even if winning the intermediate championship offers a route back to senior championship football?

“It is a long time since we won some silverware in Ballyshannon and as of now the league is our best chance of doing that,” insisted Gallagher, who took over from Packie McGrath at the end of last season.

Milford have enjoyed a fantastic season already and were runaway winners of the Division Two League. They only lost twice in 17 games under new manager Danny O’Donnell, the former Naomh Muire boss.

They saw off Carndonagh, Fanad Gaels and St Naul’s in the group stages of the championship and squeezed past Naomh Brid last weekend in the quarter-final.

They certainly have been the form team in Division Two and apart from a dodgy period in the middle of last weekend’s clash with Naomh Brid they have maintained that form in the championship too.

“We put in a very mixed performance against Naomh Brid and after getting off to a good start and building up a good lead we allowed Naomh Brid back into the game,” said Danny O’Donnell.

“We had to dig deep in the second half to get the result which was encouraging because Naomh Brid are a good side.

“We will not get away with a similar performance against Aodh Ruadh.”

The sides also met last year in the championship. That was in the quarter-final and it took two games to separate them.

Aodh Ruadh eventually emerged the winners by seven points, 2-12 to 1-8, after they drew the first day, 1-10 to 0-13.

They both have improved considerably since this time last year. This is especially so in the case of Milford.

However, they have a major problem this weekend. They are definitely without two key players team captain Paddy Peoples and the versatile PJ Hagan and they are working frantically behind the scenes on the availability of at least four more first choice players.

This is due to the wedding of former player Chris Bradley, who is getting married in Malta on Monday.

Paddy Peoples and PJ Hagan are members of the wedding party and are due to fly out to Malta ahead of Saturday’s game.

“The boys are a huge loss but we are hopeful that we have the other four lads. They were also due to fly out to Malta ahead of the game.

“But they are working on rescheduling their flights until after the game on Saturday and we are keeping our fingers crossed that we will have them.”

Despite the distraction they have been maintaining their focus on Saturday’s game and it is a matter of putting their best foot forward regardless who they have available for the game.

O’Donnell has reported no injury worries while Peter Gallagher also has a clean bill of health.

Aodh Ruadh welcome back county minor Nathan Boyle, from a one match ban, but will be without wing-back Niall Murray, who picked up a red card last weekend against Naomh Ultan.

With the distraction about the rearranging of flights and the possible absence of players, the pendulum may have swung in favour of the men from Fr Tierney Park.

Verdict: Aodh Ruadh