THEY have knocked and knocked on the door in recent seasons, but Portglenone have never made it as far as a county final.

Niall McKeever and his cousin John, the latter now as manager, were part of the teams of the noughties that danced with St Gall’s on three final days without getting over the line.

As a club, they dropped to intermediate before building a new-look team with Dermot McAleese, Paddy Kelly and the Delargy brothers to the fore.

They added u-21 and intermediate glory before dipping their toes back into the senior ranks.

The Casement’s have gone a step further this season by annexing the league title and it will be interesting to see how their championship path meanders.



MADDEN have never had their hands on the Gerry Fagan Cup. It will be Clann Éireann who are best placed to wrestle it from Crossmaglen hands but the Rapparees are tipping along nicely.

They are under the management of Mikcey Grimley this season and he’ll hope to have Niall Grimley back in contention after injury.

Madden have been drawn in a group that includes Armagh Harps, Silverbridge and recent intermediate winners Shane O’Neills.

There are stories that emerge from the club scene and Madden will hope they have a year to remember.


Cavan Gaels

IN what is a competitive club scene, Cavan Gaels haven’t had their name etched on the base of the Oliver Plunkett Cup since 2017, their 14th title.

Crosserlough are the bookie favourites with Gowna and Ramor United also well in the race.

The Gaels have not been back in the final since their last title. Of the team that knocked them out, only Gowna in 2018 have not managed to get to at least the final.

Current manager Jason O’Reilly has his hat in the frame for the vacant Cavan senior manager post and a championship run would be an endorsement of his credentials.



THE Tones are the Kings of the Oakleaf scene with 21 titles. Their last success came all the way back in 2005 with Damian Cassidy in as manager.

Cassidy is back again at the helm and they’ve gone from the brink of championship relegation last season to taking the league title this year.

They began their season with hitting Dungiven for three goals in their opening game which gives them a foundation.

Eoghan Brown is their experienced head among a team backboned by their Ulster Minor winning team of 2018 with county players Paul and Declan Cassidy thrown in.



ANY team with Michael Murphy in their ranks has a chance, but the likes of Naomh Conaill, St Eunan’s, Gaoth Dobhair and Kilcar still are the fancied horses to land the Dr Maguire Cup.

Under manager Pauric Bonner, they have bounced back from relegation with an strong unbeaten run that shot them back out of Division Two.

It’s not an ideal environment to challenge Martin Regan’s Glenties side for their title, but Glenswilly can point to outplaying them at O’Donnell Park a few seasons ago before coming up short.

They are outsiders but it will be interesting to see how far they can push.



THE fact Burren are named as a dark horse in Down tells all that needs said about Kilcoo’s monopoly on the Frank O’Hare Cup.

The Magpies are almost impossible to beat and had Burren not ousted them in the 2019 final, they’d be bidding for a 12th title in success this season.

Burren have All-Ireland pedigree themselves from the eighties and Conor Laverty will know too well the challenge they’ll pose for the rest of Down this season.

Of his Ulster winning u-21 squad, 14 hailed from Burren including senior star Odhrán Murdock.

As much as Kilcoo have dominated Down, it has been a minefield and Burren will ask plenty of questions this season.



ENNISKILLEN Gaels just tipped away in the league with a handful of regulars bobbing around the scene.

Derrygonnelly will have hopes of getting their hands on the cup ahead of their centenary celebrations. They’ve Sean Flanagan back as manager and Gary McKenna as returned from his travels.

Outside of the big two, Belnaleck will feel they’ve something to bring to the party after adding the All-Ireland Sevens title to a team with Che and Lee Cullen at their core.

They put a decent showing against the Harps in a recent league game and if they get Darragh McGurn back, they’ve hope for an interesting season.



CHAMPIONS Ballybay will have stiff opposition from Scotstown for a seat at the top table in the Oriel County this season.

Outside of that, it will be interesting to see how Clontibret can motor. At 15/2 they might attract some interest among punters looking for a bit of value.

Conor McManus was in the form of his life during Monaghan’s All-Ireland run to the last four.

The O’Neill’s finished third in the league and face a tight championship that includes Scotstown.

It’s 2019 since they got their hands on the title and their late Francie Hughes goal saved their bacon in a relegation scenario last year.



THE Red Hand race has always been impossible to predict with only Carrickmore (twice), Coalisland and Errigal Ciaran retaining the O’Neill Cup in the last 30 years.

Errigal were back at the top of the tree last year and will feel they had the tools to have gone further in Ulster.

The league is in full flow at the minute and it’s best to keep your money in your pocket when trying to predict a winner.

A team who are bubbling along nicely are Loughmacrory. They’ve had Chrissy McKaigue in with them in recent seasons. Martin McConnell and Donegal minor manager Luke Barrett have been involved as well, all under the driving force that is Ciaran Meenagh.

They’ve had a solid league and Trillick in the first round of the championship. In Eoin McElholm they have an attacker that could add to their solid unit. They’re one to watch.

Receive quality journalism wherever you are, on any device. Keep up to date from the comfort of your own home with a digital subscription.
Any time | Any place | Anywhere


Gaelic Life is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. 10-14 John Street, Omagh, Co. Tyrone, N. Ireland, BT781DW