Final chance to move up the ladder in minor championship

By Michael McMullan

SATURDAY brings the last round of games before the Ulster Minor Football Championship breaks into the knock-out stages.

The top team in each section will advance to the semi-finals where they will be rewarded with home advantage. Teams in second and third will then play off in two quarter-finals.

Down’s win over Donegal last weekend has thrown Group A wide open with Tyrone and Monaghan already through.

Goals from Darragh Poland (2) and Liam Blaney shot Down to a 3-9 to 1-6 victory at home to a Donegal team who kicked 14 wides over the hour.

It was a repeat result of the league semi-final clash of the sides when Down came back from the brink to win the game.

Speaking ahead of last weekend’s games, Down manager Benny Coulter stated how there was little to choose between the seven of the teams in Ulster.

A look at the tables after Saturday would back up the former All-Ireland minor winner’s take on the championship.

Tyrone have all their games played and sit top on six points. Donegal and Monaghan are on four points ahead of their meeting on Saturday in Ballybofey.

A draw would be enough to see both teams through on five points with Down missing out.

Down will be fancied to win at home to Fermanagh which then leaves all eyes on Ballybofey.

A Monaghan win would see Down through ahead of Donegal by virtue of head to head. A Donegal win would then see Monaghan push Down out due to head-to-head and the Farney’s win when they locked horns in the group stages.

It’s a more straightforward Saturday in Group B with games down for decision.

Derry welcome Armagh to Owenbeg where the winners will top the group and go straight through to a semi-final spot.

The Oakleafers were Ulster and All-Ireland champions last season and have five of their team back on board and have added the league title this season.

It will be a yardstick for both Derry boss Damian McErlain and Armagh’s manager Aidan O’Rourke to see where exactly they are.

The other game takes place in Kingspan Breffni where Antrim are the visitors.

Neither side has won a championship game. Cavan have pushed Derry twice this season and they’ve a much better score difference than Antrim.

Cavan will be hotly tipped for victory, sending Antrim into the tier two All-Ireland Championship as the fourth placed team in the group.

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