Derry’s sorting out process begins

By Michael McMullan

GLEN are the team to beat in the race to land the John McLaughlin Cup with the Watties eyeing up a third title on the trot.

Magherafelt, who beat them in the 2019 decider, are the main challenger at this point with Sleacht Néill needing a change in fortunes to kickstart their challenge for the title.

There is another interesting slant in the Oakleaf County. The CCC are shaving their 14 teams down to 12 as their championship streamlining continues with the bottom two teams in each of the seven-team groups facing off in two relegation play-offs.

Malachy O’Rourke’s Glen will travel to Portstewart to take on an Eoghan Rua side who have lost their first two games and will be battling to keep themselves out of the drop zone.

Coleraine were champions in 2010 and 2018 but will more than likely have their season defined by the last three games.

Conor Glass and skipper Connor Carville have yet to feature for Glen with Tiarnán Flanagan still in Canada.

The biggest game of the weekend takes place in Group A where Lavey travel to Ballinascreen.

Both teams have a win each so far but the greater subplot comes from the league play-off when ‘Screen goalkeeper Ryan Scullion saved three penalties to relegate Lavey to Division Two for next season.

Lavey pushed Glen all the way in the last game, taking a seven-point interval deficit down to two before substitute Ethan Doherty ran the champions clear.

The final Group A game sees Swatragh take on Dungiven at O’Cahan Park. The ‘Swa have won both games to date with Dungiven yet to win and will need a result to give them a chance of battling out of the bottom spots.

In Group B, Magherafelt have a bye and it gives Newbridge a chance to join them on four points.

Conor Doherty has hit 1-12 over the two wins so far and they travel to Kilrea this weekend as favourites to make it a third victory.

Ballinderry have a proud record of always getting to the last eight since of the championship every year since 1978.

With two defeats so far, they facing an uphill battle again this weekend with Sleacht Néill coming to Shamrock Park with something to prove.

The Emmet’s were close to defeat to Steelstown and lost to Magherafelt in a game they had enough chances to pull from the fire in the last seven minutes.

Loup had a bye in the last round and take two defeats into this weekend’s visit of Steelstown.

The Brian Ógs, All-Ireland intermediate champions in recent seasons, are unbeaten with Cahir McMonagle in scintillating form in attack.

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