By Shaun Casey
DIVISION 3A league champions Clonmore are the clear front-runners for the Junior Championship. Having been drawn into one of the group of three, Clonmore are guaranteed at least a playoff spot.
But they’ll be confident of topping their group and reaching the last eight. Clonmore, led by players managers Brendan Donaghy and James Grimley, will be expected to beat St Michael’s and Killeavy IIs.
St Michael’s have been building nicely over the last few years and the knockout championship has done them no favours. Their young squad has potential, and they will be Clonmore’s stiffest test in the group.
Collegeland won the JFC back in 2019 and have the potential to push Clonmore all the way. They begin their campaign away to Clady before taking on last year’s finalists Lissummon and Redmond O’Hanlon’s.
Lissummon lost their talismanic midfielder Damian O’Hagan at the start of the season and their drive for a junior title has been hindered by relegation from Division 3A.
Ballyhegan finished second in the league table, and they begin their campaign with an away tie against Thomas Davis. Peter McGrane, nephew of All-Ireland winner Paul, is their sole county representative.
They do have a good mixture of quality sprinkled throughout their dressing room, including captain Jack Rafferty and goal-getter James McCormack. Dorsey were relegated from the top tier without winning a game and they take on Mullabrack in the first round.
Éire Óg have been a top contender over the last few years but have yet to really make a big impact on the championship. Like Clonmore, they’ve been drawn into a group of three so should make it through to the quarter-finals without much fuss.
They’ll have to do it without Conor Martin, who is arguably their best player, as he is sidelined having recently suffered the dreaded ACL injury. Éire Óg will face Division 3B champions An Port Mor and Clann Éireann IIs in their section.