Aodh Ruadh's David McGurrin challenges Gaeil Fhanada's Joe Blaney when the sides met recently in the Intermediate Championship. Aodh Ruadh play Naomh Columba in the semi-final on Saturday
Aodh Ruadh, Naomh Columba, Glenfin and St Naul’s take centre stage in the Donegal Intermediate championship this weekend.
The championship has reached the last four with Aodh Ruadh the favorites facing Naomh Columba in Tír Chonaill Park on Saturday, throw-in 4pm.
In the second semi-final, Glenfin go head-to-head with St Naul’s on Sunday in Ardara, throw-in 2pm.
Aodh Ruadh, last year’s beaten semi-finalists, have been one of the favourites for the championship from day one and they have lived up to that billing right through the group stages with big home wins over Downings and Gaeil Fhánada and a narrow away win over a resurgent Naomh Muire.
Aodh Ruadh defeated Gaeil Fhanada 4-9 to 0-7 in the quarter-final while Naomh Columba were 0-13 to 0-4 winners over Naomh Ultan in their quarter final.
“Aodh Ruadh and Cloughaneely were my favourites at the start of the championship and with Cloughaneely gone, Aodh Ruadh are very much the favourites to take the title,” said Brian McCabe a former Intermediate championship winning player and former manager with St Naul’s.
“I know they were relegated from Division One but they were not far away and were unlucky to make the drop. But Division One is a very competitive league and although they only won a handful of games they will have learned a lot from playing at the higher level.
Daniel Gallagher of St. Naul's collects possession during his team's game against Naomh Ultan PICTURE: THOMAS GALLAGHER
“I feel they will have a little too much for Naomh Columba this weekend. Naomh Columba are a good young team. Aaron Doherty is the talk of the county and is a brilliant young footballer.
“Finn Gallagher and Lanty Molloy are the other good young players in the team and I know Michael Maguire is a very experienced footballer.
“I feel Naomh Columba will be competitive but Aodh Ruadh are the form team. Shane McGrath, David Gurrin and Nathan Boyle are having a good season for Aodh Ruadh and Peter Boyle in goals is a class keeper and gets great length and variety in his kick-outs.”
This weekend’s other semi-finalists Glenfin and St Naul’s met last year in a quarter-final in Tír Chonaill Park with St Naul’s edging it by a point. St Naul’s were managed last season by John McNulty. This year they are under the management of the former St Eunan’s management team of Eddie Brennan and Barry Meehan. Glenfin meanwhile, are managed by Liam Breen.
“They have met already this year with St Naul’s winning in Mountcharles and Glenfin victorious in Glenfin,” McCabe said.
“There were only couple of points between them in both games and I’m not expecting there will be much between the sides on this occasion either.”
Glenfin won one and drew two of their group games which was still enough to finish in second place behind Naomh Brid in what was a competitive group.
They drew with Buncrana and Naomh Brid and the big result was their 1-10 to 0-10 away win over one of the championship favourites, Cloughaneely. And they defeated Naomh Brid by seven points, 1-11 to 1-4, in the quarter-final last weekend.
St Naul’s had a 0-12 to 0-11 extra-time quarter-final win over Naomh Muire last Sunday in Ballybofey.
“The win in Cloughaneely was a big victory for Glenfin,” McCabe added.
“They are a good championship side. I watched them against Naomh Brid last weekend and I was impressed. Stephen Carr, Jason Morrow and Gerard Ward played well for them and are good forwards and of course they have Frank McGlynn.
“Frank makes them tick, although he went off injured against Naomh Brid.
“Stephen Griffin is still the main man for St Naul’s when it comes to scoring while Peadar Mogan, Brendan McCole, Barry Griffin and Stuart Johnston are big men for them too.
“I really think it will be close but I feel St Naul’s have the better balance and should just about shade it.”
The McCabe verdict
Aodh Ruadh v Naomh Columba
Verdict: Aodh Ruadh
Glenfin v St Naul’s
Verdict: St Naul’s