Kevin Cassidy

KEVIN CASSIDY: Ulster’s treasure hunt

THE semi-finals of the Ulster Club Championship take place this weekend and what a set of pairings we have in store.

Like most years in this competition, a lot of us would have predicted certain teams to still be in the competition, but given the nature of the beast and the competitiveness of this championship it’s simply too hard to predict who’ll make the final.

Let’s start with the first semi-final on Saturday night where hot favourites Glen from Derry take on Donegal kingpins Naomh Conaill.

There is no getting away from the fact that this will be a massive task for the Donegal champions, but it’s one that I think they will relish and its one that I am sure they are really looking forward to.

It reminds me a lot of the time we played Crossmaglen in the semi-final back in 2018 when no one gave us a chance, but deep down inside our own camp we knew that if we turned up on the day we would be hard to beat.

Glen are on the road for three or four seasons now and I would say they have their sights firmly set on landing that All-Ireland title.

There is no doubt they have a good enough team to do that, but the biggest hurdle in my opinion is getting out of Ulster safe and sound.

They are coming up against an extremely well coached and well drilled Glenties team who themselves have been on the road for a number of years.

The Donegal champions may not have that winning experience at provincial level, but, here in Donegal, they have been dominant so they have that experience in their ranks.

I firmly believe that within the Glenties camp this week at training, they have full belief that they can win this game and that will make them dangerous for Glen come Saturday evening.

In my opinion, the only saving grace for Glen is that they are completely comfortable playing against a blanket defence so the Glenties system shouldn’t phase them and they will be patient enough to work around it.

I’m wondering if Martin Regan and his team will try something different this weekend in order to get the job done.

Glen will be fully aware that Glenties try to hurt you on the counter attack having stripped the ball from you so therefore having that experience of playing against this type of system will stand to them.

From a Glen point of view this, for me, will be their trickiest assignment because Glenties are extremely difficult to break down and should the Derry champions get over Saturday evening, I can’t see them being stopped.

I’ve looked at both squads in depth and I’m leaning towards a Glen win, but it will be a narrow one with possibly one or two points to spare.

In the second semi-final, Scotstown get their reward for dumping out hot favourites Kilcoo in the last round and now they face Trillick who themselves are gathering momentum.

I spoke before the last game where I stated that the addition of Jack McCarron may just be the missing piece in the jigsaw that this Scotstown team needed.

We know how strong they are all over the pitch with the Hughes brothers, Conor McCarthy and the likes of Shane Carey, but now with Jack McCarron in the forward line it gives them that added dimension.

Trillick, much like Glenties in the first game, won’t fear the Monaghan champions because anyone who follows club football will know that they have just come out as champions of the most competitive club competition of them all – the Tyrone Senior Championship.

Trillick are a very difficult opposition to play against because if you want to play all out football and go for a shootout they will gladly oblige but if you want to play a defensive sort of game, then they are extremely comfortable at playing that wag also.

I do think that at this stage of the competition, going into Ulster, Mattie Donnelly is a massive blow to them because his experience and know how at this level would be massive on the stage.

I think that we could be in for a real cracker on Sunday where both teams go at it and if that happens I can see Trillick winning, but if both teams opt for a dog fight then Scotstown could edge that type of contest.

Honestly, both of these games are so hard to call and that’s why we love this competition, but if my neck was on the line I will go for a Glen v Scotstown final.

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