By Shaun Casey
DEFENDING champions Ballybay are aiming for their first victory of the 2023 campaign after suffering a stuttering start to their title defence last weekend, drawing with Seamus McEnaney’s Corduff.
Ballybay made the much brighter start, racing into a 5-1 lead during the first quarter, but two goals either side of the half-time break from Mark and Keith McEnaney earned the underdogs a 2-8 to 0-14 draw.
Seanie Johnston’s side will enjoy home advantage this weekend when they host Aughnamullen, who suffered a one-point defeat to Latton in the opening round.
Latton were deserved winners having led the whole way through, although a late Aughnamullen goal made for a nervy last few minutes. But Latton tagged on the final game-winning score, earning them top spot in Group One.
Latton have a bye this weekend, offering them a chance to reset the batteries, while Truagh, who sat out in the opening round, take on Corduff on Sunday afternoon.
In Group Two, arguably the tougher section of the two in this year’s competition, Inniskeen made a huge stride towards the knockout stages with a first-round win over former Monaghan kingpins Scotstown but must carry that form into the weekend as they visit Magheracloone.
John McEntee’s side have been in fine form this season, having reached the league final, and look to have carried that momentum into the business end of the season.
They’ll be heavy favourites to go to Magheracloone and make it two from two.
Magheracloone suffered a nine-point defeat in their first championship outing of the season against Clontibret, and they’ll be keen to give a better account of themselves this time out.
Clontibret take on Donaghmoyne, who finished top of the league, and home advantage could be crucial for David Lennon’s men as they look to upset the odds this Saturday.
In the Intermediate Championship, Carrickmacross started their campaign with a win over Killanny and will be confident of following that up in round two against Sean McDermott’s, who tasted defeat the first day out.
A goal hungry Toome proved too good for Sean McDermott’s last weekend, but they’ll face a much tougher examination of their championship credentials when they travel to Emyvale on Saturday afternoon.
Castleblayney earned an opening day win as Eamon McEnaney’s side proved three points better than Doohamlet, winning 0-14 to 1-7. ‘Blayney will have home advantage this weekend when then host Clones.
Clones head into the clash on the back of a 0-11 to 2-8 defeat to Cremartin while Doohamlet are in a similar situation as they take on Monaghan Harps following a first-round loss.
Éire Óg were huge 17-point winners in their JFC opener against Aghabog, who now must gather themselves for a round two clash with Blackhill.
The Emeralds earned a first-round win last weekend, overcoming Currin 2-10 to 0-10 thanks to two first-half goals.
In Group Two, Scotstown saw off Oram by the minimum of margins while Tyholland proved too strong for Rockcorry. The top two, Scotstown and Tyholland, face off this weekend while Oram travel to Killeevan.