Derrynoose v Middletown
(Saturday, Crossmaglen, 5.30pm)
Middletown’s quarter-final victory over Keady automatically makes them favourites for the competition outright. They secured a 1-17 to 0-16 win over their rivals with Dean Gaffney grabbing the crucial goal en-route to a personal 1-10 tally. They were wasteful though with Gaffney and Martin Moan, twice, seeing goal chances saved by Joby Burke. Derrynoose are once again under the guidance of Jim McGrory as they chase a first-ever final appearance. They did draw with Middletown in the league in July and will be hoping to use that as a launchpad. The likes of Conor McNally and Cormac Fox are hurling this year, so this should be by no means an easy hour’s work for Middletown.
Cuchulainn’s v Sean Treacy’s
(Sunday, Ballymacnab, 2.30pm)
This will be an emotional occasion as John Toner’s Cuchulainn’s play their first game following the passing of club legend Gerard Devlin last week. Gerard played for club, county and province and was also a well-respected referee and officiated the 1998 All-Ireland Minor final when Kilkenny defeated Cork. They will hope to honour him as they face last year’s Junior champions Sean Treacy’s. The Lurgan side could have added a provincial run to their name too, but they finished weakly against Newry Shamrocks in the quarter-final. Danny Magee will lead the attack having started in defence for Clan na Gael in their Intermediate Football semi-final win over Keady on Sunday.
Croabh Rua v Middletown
(Saturday, Crossmaglen, 3pm)
Patrick Garvey captains Croabh Rua this year as they attempt to get back into the Junior final. Middletown are managed by Sylvester McConnell, Connor McCann and Barney McCann, who are also over the first side. Pauric Curry will lead the side out.
Killeavy v Cuchullain’s
(Sunday, Ballymacnab, 12pm)
Niall Trainor’s Killeavy had a convincing 3-22 to 0-8 win over St Malachy’s in the quarter-final. Joe Grant captains the side and is a real threat at centre half-forward while dual players like Eoin McParland will provide some physicality around the middle. Like their first string, this will be an emotional occasion for Peter Quigley’s Cuchullain’s after the death of club legend Gerard Devlin.
Templeport v Drung
(Friday, Kingspan Breffni, 7.15pm)
Templeport have been in flying form and continued their unbeaten run with a one-sided victory over Drumalee in their final group match. Drung overcame in Mountnugent in an entertaining match to book their place in the knock-out rounds. On current form, Templeport are strong favourites.
Knockbride v Kill Shamrocks
(Saturday, Kingspan Breffni, 6pm)
Both of these teams are tipping along nicely at the minute so this could be a game to watch. Knockbride hammered Mountnugent the last day out, while Kill Shamrocks did the business in a hard-fought battle against Kildallan.
Shannon Gaels v Munterconnaught
(Sunday, Kingspan Breffni, 2pm)
Shannon Gaels have been excellent this campaign and booked their place in the quarters with a straightforward win over Maghera MacFinn’s. Munterconnaught sneaked into the last eight, meanwhile, despite losing to Denn.
Verdict: Shannon Gaels
Denn v Kildallan
(Sunday, Kingspan Breffni, 4.15pm)
Denn won all four of their group matches, and were second only at the top of the table to Templeport on scoring difference. Kildallan have been going fairly well themselves, but they’re coming up against a team with a really mean defence.
Kilcar v Gaoth Dobhair
(Saturday, O’Donnell Park, 5.30pm)
As expected, both of these teams emerged from their respective quarter-final clashes at the weekend, but both teams were given real scares. Kilcar were lucky enough against St Michael’s and won out by 3-14 to 3-12 even though they were eight points ahead at the break. Mark McHugh and Conor Doherty were very good in the opening period, but they seemed to suffer after Conor McShane and Brian O’Donnell were black-carded. It was even closer in the Gaoth Dobhair match as they only had a point to spare against Sean Mac Cumhaill’s. It didn’t help matters that Odhran MacNiallias, who had been in phenomenal form, and Michael Carroll missed out with injury. Last year’s beaten finalists will need them both if they’re to do the business against Kilcar.
St Eunan’s v Naomh Conaill
(Sunday, MacCumhaill Park, 4pm)
Reigning champions Naomh Conaill are the form team in Donegal at the minute and they absolutely demolished Glenfin in the quarter-final by 2-16 to 0-5. That’s despite losing Eoghan McGettigan to a second yellow card and Ciaran Thompson to injury early on. Their opponents St Eunan’s were just as impressive as they cruised to an 8-11 to 0-6 victory over Bundoran in their particular last-eight clash. They have a brilliant forward unit, so it’ll be interesting to see whether this will be a real shoot-out on Sunday or whether it’ll be a cagey affair. The fitness of Ciaran Thompson could be a pivotal factor, and St Eunan’s have nothing to lose.
Verdict: Naomh Conaill
SFC relegation play-off
Milford v Termon
(Saturday, O’Donnell Park, 2pm)
This is a rescheduled fixture as last week’s game was postponed after Termon players were in contact with a person – understood not to be a club member – who tested positive for Covid. Club activities in Termon were temporarily cancelled and some players were forced to self-isolate after the ban on activities was lifted. Neither team has being going well so it’s hard to pick a winner here.
Buncrana v Cloughaneely
(Sunday, O’Donnell Park, 1pm)
Last year’s Junior champions Buncrana have blazed a trail in the Intermediate Championship and stand one step away from a place in the decider. They topped their group, securing home advantage for their quarter-final clash against Gaeil Fhanada. They won that match with plenty to spare and Darach O’Connor scored a hat-trick for the second game running. Cloughaneely have been going almost as well, finishing near the top in the group stages and progressed into the semis with a hard-fought four-point win over Red Hugh’s.
Aodh Ruadh v Naomh Columba
(Sunday, Eamonn Byrne Memorial Park, 1pm)
Aodh Ruadh, Ballyshannon were fairly unconvincing in their quarter-final victory over Naomh Mhuire even though they did have five points to spare at the final whistle. Phillip Patton hit eight of their 15 points on the day, and David Dolan recovered from injury in time to play a substitute’s role. Naomh Columba, meanwhile, have been going very well but found it tough enough in their own quarter-final clash against a stubborn Malin side. That test should do them good though.
Verdict: Naomh Columba
Carndonagh v Letterkenny Gaels
(Saturday, Carndonagh, 2pm)
Carndonagh have been in flying form in this year’s Junior Championship, and the same can be said of Letterkenny Gaels who booked their place in the semi-finals a game in advance. They actually lost their dead-rubber tie against Moville, and while that was no big deal in the circumstances, they’ll still need to improve if they’re to have a decisive say in the destination of this year’s championship.
Moville v Urris
(Saturday, Moville, 5pm)
It’s been a very tough campaign for Moville following the tragic deaths of John Mullan and children Thomas and Amelia in Quigley’s point a fortnight ago. It’s put everything into perspective, but they’ll still want to do themselves proud in this weekend’s Junior Championship quarter-final against Urris, who have come through some tough battles to reach the quarters.
Carryduff v Ballyholland
(Sunday, Páirc Esler, 3pm)
One of Carryduff or Ballyholland will be in this year’s Down final and not many would have predicted that when the first ball of the championship was thrown in. The greater Belfast side have responded to their fixture debacle with Downpatrick by earning wins against Longstone and, more impressively, Bryansford. It was the manner of Monday’s quarter-final win that raised eyebrows as they defeated Steven Poacher’s side 3-15 to 0-11. Josh Connery got them off to the perfect start with a first-minute goal while Ronan Beatty hit the net for the second successive game. Moments later Joe Tunney raised a green flag to all but kill the contest despite it still being the first half. When profiling the clubs ahead of the championship, Gaelic Life stated that Ballyholland were sure to be written off again, and that they would be more than happy with that. It’s back-to-back semi-finals now and although Warrenpoint hammered them at this stage last season, expect a much better showing – especially with their exciting young attack.
Kilcoo v Warrenpoint
(Sunday, Páirc Esler, 7.30pm)
IT seemed destined that Warrenpoint and Kilcoo would meet again after their entertaining, and very controversial, clash earlier in the season. Paddy Murdock kicked a winner for the ‘Point with the Ulster champions protesting strongly about the time-keeping. Since then Mickey Moran’s men have eased past Burren (after an even enough first half) and Rostrevor. The Johnstons, Ryan, Shelan and Jerome, are playing terrific stuff and they have the motivation factor of revenge. Warrenpoint, for their part, nearly made a mess of their quarter-final as they required penalties to get past Clonduff. They conceded three goals and their solidity at the back was not there. It’s no surprise that they looked so much better when John Boyle came off the bench. If Niall McAleenan can get him fit to start, they’ll have a great chance. This looks set up for Kilcoo though.
SFC relegation play-offs
Darragh Cross v RGU Downpatrick
(Saturday, Bright, 5pm)
Downpatrick will enter this with a sense of injustice hanging over them following their controversial fixture situation with Carryduff. It’s likely to evoke one of two strong reactions, an unwillingness to really compete here or a determination to show their worth. If it’s the latter, it’s unlikely that Darragh Cross’s young side will be able to match them.
Verdict: RGU Downpatrick
Castlewellan v Glenn
(Saturday, Mayobridge, 5pm)
It’s been a tough year for Frank Dawson’s Castlewellan but they did show big improvement in their Qualifier loss to Burren. Glenn were very competitive in their games with Brayansford and Mayobridge. They have the talent there to get out of trouble, and may have the likes of Patrick Brooks back.
Saul v Liatroim
(Saturday, St Patrick’s Park, 2pm)
Saul manager Ronan McCartan has reported a clean bill of health as the club attempts to return to a championship final. Their last title came in 1964 when they won the Junior crown, but they have made massive strides under the current management team of McCartan, John Fegan and Philip Kinsella. Paddy Hardy’s Liatroim have been really good in racking up wins over Saval, Newry Shamrocks and, most recently, An Riocht. They were only a point ahead at the second water break against the Kingdom last week, but they hit 1-4 in the final quarter.
Drumgath v Annaclone
(Saturday, St Patrick’s Park, 5.30pm)
These two teams have been involved in plenty of derby encounters already this season, and this will be the biggest one yet. Drumgath have been on a bit of a scoring frenzy with Jack Lynch’s men hitting 0-19 and 0-20 in their two wins over Clann na Banna while they also hit 4-8 against An Riocht. Annaclone defeated Dromara 1-14 to 0-5 in their quarter-final. Seamus Quinn’s side kept their opponents to a single point in the first half but they needed a Chris McCartan save to repel a Dromara comeback in the second period.
IFC relegation play-off
St John, Bosco v Teconnaught
(Friday, Liatroim, 2pm)
Pierce Caherty’s Bosco were well beaten by Atticall in the relegation semi-final last weekend while Teconnaught lost out to Bright by four points. The latter are working off a small panel this year and that hasn’t helped, but they may just edge this.
Drumaness v St Paul’s
(Saturday, Darragh Cross, 2pm)
Drumaness were involved in a real battle with Kilclief last week but they led for the majority of the contest and Sean McKenna’s men deservedly progressed on a 1-11 to 1-9 scoreline. It was the opposite for St Paul’s who held Glasdrumman scoreless in the first half. Their opponents only raised one white flag over the hour with the Holywood side hitting 2-10 in reply. Daire Rooney missed out through injury, but Daniel Eastwood’s two goals saw them home in the most comfortable of fashions. Tom Grimley’s suspension leaves a huge gap though.
Dundrum v Aughlisnafin
(Saturday, St John’s, 2pm)
Aughlisnafin had eased past Ardglass earlier in the tournament but with four minutes remaining in their quarter-final, they were only two points ahead. Shea Croskery (2), Adam Garland (2) and Oran Flanagan made the game safe though with late scores. Dundrum ended the hopes of Shorty Trainor’s Mitchel’s with a routine 1-15 to 0-5 victory, Chris Mulholland coming off the bench to score the only goal of the game. This is a repeat of last year’s semi-final with Dundrum out for revenge.
Derrygonnelly v Kinawley
(Friday, Brewster Park, 8pm)
Kinawley will have to stop the runaway Derrygonnelly train if they are to qualify for their first Senior final since 1993. On the run to the final that year they did dump out then holders Enniskillen Gaels, so maybe history can repeat itself. It was the other Gaels, Erne, who they defeated in this year’s quarter-final with goals from Aaron Tierney and Ruairi Corrigan proving decisive in the two-point win. A hamstring issue meant that Tomás Corrigan did not feature, but he should get some game-time here. He will be needed. Derrygonnelly are aiming for a sixth title in-a-row this year. Their match with Roslea was the expected battle with the Harps winning 0-10 to 0-6. Things may have been more uncomfortable if Jack Kelly hadn’t brilliantly denied Sean Quigley’s goal-bound effort in the early stages. It was far from flowing football but the champions once again stood up when they needed to. They should find a way here too.
Ederney v Teemore
(Sunday, Brewster Park, 7pm)
Ederney have been tipped as the best side to end Derrygonnelly’s dominance and a win here would secure their second final spot in three years. Belnaleck stopped them in last year’s first round but they got revenge a few weeks ago with a 1-11 to 2-2 win. Mickey Cassidy’s side were put under the cosh at times, but they dealt with the pressure well – especially when Martin McGrath dropped into the heart of the defence in the second half. Teemore may be a Division Two side but they have an excellent chance here. They have won all six games this season, five in the league and their quarter-final against Tempo. Goals were the difference in that one-point win with the veteran Barry Owens and Ryan Maguire raising green flags.
SFC regelation play-offs
Belnaleck v Roslea
(Sunday, Louis Leonard Memorial Park, 12pm)
Roslea put so much into their clash with Derrygonnelly so they must show that they can rise again. Belnaleck look set to be without suspended goalkeeper Ryan McNulty. Expect this to be close, but the Shamrocks should survive.
Erne Gaels v Tempo
(Sunday, Derrygonnelly, 4pm)
Both these sides lost their quarter-finals narrowly, Erne Gaels by two points to Kinawley and Tempo by a point to Teemore. It’s a cliché, but whoever has gotten over defeat the quickest should prevail.
Verdict: Erne Gaels
(Saturday, St Patrick’s Park, 6pm)
Aghadrumsee were underdogs against Devenish but Pat Cadden’s men were more than worthy of their 1-10 to 2-4 win. They trailed by three points at the break but a goal from Dale Crudden and some superb shooting from Eddie Courtney steered them through. The Gaels have long been talked about as the team to beat but they were pushed hard by Irvinestown. They conceded 2-3 without reply at one stage so clearly there is work to be done.
Verdict: Enniskillen Gaels
Belcoo v Maguiresbridge
(Sunday, Brewster Park, 1.45pm)
Ciaran Flaherty was the Belcoo hero as his late score saw the side past Lisnaskea last time out. Maguiresbridge, who had been conceding freely and finding it hard to find the target, hit 2-16 in their win against St Patrick’s with Ciaran Corrigan scoring both goals.
IFC relegation play-offs
Lisnaskea v St Patrick’s
(Saturday, Shamrock Park, 2pm)
Lisnaskea will be without goalkeeper Aidan Keenan after he was sent off in the one-point loss to Belcoo. St Patrick’s were undone by Maguirebridge in their quarter-final and the loss of Cameron O’Brien to a red card after just 25 minutes was a huge blow.
Verdict: St Patrick’s
Devenish v Irvinestown
(Saturday, Pairc na hEirne, 4pm)
Devenish didn’t deal well with the favourites’ tag as they were dumped out by Aghadrumsee. The second-half performance was nowhere near good enough as they hit 1-1 with Martin O’Brien’s goal coming right at the death. Irvinestown gave Enniskillen Gaels their fill of it before running out of steam after the break.
Newtownbutler v Derrylin
(Saturday, Shamrock Park, 6pm)
Derrylin needed a replay to get past Brookeborough with a strong second half seeing them into the semis. Newtownbutler left it late to get past Coa with Sean Mullaney landing two scores in the final moments.
Coa O’Dweyer’s v Brookeborough
(Saturday, Kinawley, 4pm)
Brookeborough had chances to kill off the tie with Derrylin in their drawn encounter and were made to pay the price in the replay. They should make amends here but Coa are making strides this year. They were unlucky in their loss to Newtownbutler as they conceded two additional time scores.
Castleblayney v Truagh Gaels
(Sunday, Clones, 3.30pm)
This is a repeat of last year’s final, a game Castleblayney won on a 1-20 to 1-10 scoreline. The margin was out to 11 points when the sides met in the group stages a few weeks ago, but there is hope that Truagh can stay pretty competitive here. Comfortable wins over Inniskeen and Carrickmacross should bring some confidence and they have blooded some new players this year like Ryan Mohan, Ronan Boyle and Ryan Boyle so the sport continues to grow in the area. ‘Blayney, of course, have long had a hurling tradition are aiming for their fourth consecutive Mick Quigley Cup and with the likes of the Treanors, Peter and Mark, and Fergal Rafter driving them on, they should add another title to the collection.
Monaghan Harps v Clontibret
(Sunday, Clones, 1.30pm)
Monaghan Harps hit five goals when these sides met in the group stages, and they’ll be confident of repeating the trick. Remy McKenna did most of the damage that night while Alan Lee and Gavin Baxter also impressed. Wins over Latton and Castleblayney’s second string ensured Clontibret of their spot in the final.
Verdict: Monaghan Harps
Eoghan Ruadh, Dungannon v Eire Og, Carrickmore
(Saturday, Healy Park, 5pm)
Eoghan Ruadh are red-hot favourites to win their third Senior Championship in-a-row. Colm McGuinness’s team have had a fantastic few seasons and were desperately unlucky to lose to St Gall’s in last year’s Ulster Intermediate Hurling final on penalties. Their top players include Damian Casey and Tiarnan Morgan and they are bidding for their 25th senior title this weekend. Eire Og will be seriously determined to intervene, just like Dungannon did when they were on course for five in-a-row a few years ago. They have some brilliant players of their own, including Dermot Begley and Justin Kelly, and this is usually a massively entertaining battle regardless of who wins.
Verdict: Eoghan Ruadh
Naomh Colmcille v Omagh St Enda’s
(Saturday, Healy Park, Omagh, 3pm)
These two teams met in last year’s final, and although Omagh are making great strides, they were well beaten on the day. Naomh Colmcille were captained by Tyrone player Chris Kearns, who is likely to line out at midfield, while Caolan Devine and Chris Cross are well able to take a score or two. Omagh can call upon the likes of Conor Lagan, who’s been doing well for Tyrone.
Verdict: Naomh Colmcille
JFC first round
Killeeshil v Drumragh
(Friday, Garvaghey, 8pm)
Killeeshil lost last year’s Junior Championship semi-final in a thrilling contest against Kildress, so they’ll want to make amends for that this year. Drumragh, meanwhile, are third in Division Three Group B heading into the championship.
Cookstown v Glenelly
(Saturday, Pairc Colmcille, 2pm)
Fr Rocks have had a torrid few seasons and should really be playing at a higher level in Tyrone. However, they’re going well at the minute and top their respective table after a string of fine wins. Glenelly are going well this season so this could be close.
Eskra v Kildress
(Saturday, Killyclogher, 4pm)
It wasn’t that long ago that Eskra were at home at the Intermediate ranks, but many of their best players emigrated and they slipped down to the Junior ranks a couple of seasons ago. Kildress will be desperate to win this year’s championship after losing to the Rock in last year’s decider.
Errigal Ciaran Thirds
(Saturday, Dromore, 6pm)
Unusually, the Errigal Ciaran Thirds are left representing the club after their first team lost to Dungannon at the weekend. They did reasonably well in last year’s championship, while Castlederg suffered their first loss of the season to Cookstown at the weekend. They’re going well but have been badly hit by injuries.
Brackaville v Clann na nGael
(Sunday, Tattyreagh, 2pm)
Brackaville will be desperately disappointed to have lost to Errigal Ciaran Thirds in the first-round of last year’s championship, but they haven’t been going well in the league, unlike Clann na nGael who have had a respectable enough campaign to date.
Verdict: Clann na nGael
Drumquin v Killyman
(Sunday, Clogher, 4pm)
Drumquin have taken some impressive strides this season and are on a run of three straight victories heading into the championship. Killyman, meanwhile, have only one victory to their name, but in fairness they gave a decent account of themselves in last year’s championship opener.
Derrytresk v Urney
(Sunday, Garvaghey, 6pm)
Unfortunately it’s been some fall from grace for Urney, who suffered back-to-back relegations en route to Junior football. They’re going well at least, and while Derrytresk have only one league win to their name, they’ve been competitive and have drawn two matches.
Coalisland Thirds v Brocagh
(Monday, Eoghan Ruadh, 8pm)
This is a first-ever championship match for new outfit Coalisland Thirds. They’ve been on the receiving end of some big beatings in the league, however, so hopes won’t be too high of a championship run. Brocagh have had a disappointing season to date, but should still manage this one.
By Niall McCoy
and Niall Gartland