Kilcoo flexed their muscles on Sunday with a comprehensive win over Fermanagh kingpins Derrygonnelly to set up a mouth-watering clash with Scotstown this weekend.
I expected Kilcoo to win last weekend but I thought Derrygonnelly would have put up a little bit more of a fight. From start to finish Kilcoo were extremely impressive and their power and pace, which we spoke about last week, was evident throughout the game.
I also spoke last week about how given their dominance in Down over the last number of years, this is really their club championship because it’s now that they get tested in the way most other teams get tested during their own county championships.
This weekend’s game against Scotstown is a massive one, and it will be a little step up on the ladder in terms of quality of opposition compared to what they faced against Derrygonnelly.
Scotstown, much like Kilcoo, have dominated their own club championship over the last number of years, so they have been in this competition nearly year-on-year for the best part of a decade now. They are a vastly experienced team when you look down through their squad and have some big, big players in their ranks. There have been a few changes in their team in terms of personnel since we beat them in the final back in 2018, but the majority of the team and squad are still playing.
The one thing I remember about or build up to that game is how we went about analysing the players and their strengths. We knew that they had some serious ball carriers and ball winners like the Hughes brothers and we knew the likes of Shane Carey and Conor McCarthy would be dangerous for a few scores and they would have to be man marked.
What they didn’t have was an out and out scoring forward who could potentially hit you for 1-5 or 1-6 on the day and that to us was a massive plus as we prepared for battle. Fast forward a few years, and they now have one of the most prolific scoring forwards at county level over the last few seasons in their ranks. The addition of Jack McCarron is absolutely huge for Scotstown’s chances because they can now hurt you from all over the pitch.
I’m sure as Kilcoo sit down to analyse them this week Jack will come in for a lot of attention. This should be a cracking game and I think that will be right down to the wire. I feel though that Kilcoo’s experience will just see them over the line.
I spoke at length last weekend about the Naomh Conaill and Gowna game, and how I think Gowna will struggle against Glenties’ system.
Gowna have now won back-to-back Cavan titles and I’m sure they are eager to put their stamp on the Ulster Club campaign, but in order to do that they will have to have put in hours upon hours of studying how Glenties play and analysing how they can hurt them, because if this work has not been done, then I’m afraid to tell them that they will never just figure it out on the day.
In order to beat Glenties, you must get fast early ball to your inside men before they have a chance to get back and set up. Another massive area is your ability to win breaking ball.
The Glenties’ kick-out strategy is one of the most simplistic ones out there. They are comfortable launching the ball right out the middle as they are excellent at breaking ball and I mean excellent. Gowna would need to at least match them in this area. I said last week that Glenties structure and system and know-how should see them over the line and I’m sticking with it. I’ll go with Glenties by three.
Elsewhere is what is a bumper week here in Ulster Crossmaglen take on Tyrone champions Trillick.
Crossmaglen are building once again but I have watched Trillick a few times over the last number of years and I just think that they will have way too much pace and power for this Crossmaglen team, so I’ll go with a Trillick win.
In the last quarter-final, hot favourites Glen take on Antrim kingpins Cargin and I don’t think anyone would bet against the Derry champions getting the job done here so for me Glen by five.