WATCH: "It would be no surprise if Omagh caused a shock"
OMAGH could be a side perfectly placed to create an Ulster Club shock this weekend was the verdict of our sports team in today’s TommyFrench.com Facebook Live discussion.
The newly-crowned Tyrone champions travel to Celtic Park on Saturday night to face the reigning champions Slaughtneil, who are fresh off retaining the provincial hurling title.
The sides met in a dramatic 2014 final in Armagh, when Omagh led by four just after half-time but were reeled in after the Emmet’s abandoned their sweeper system.
Speaking about the clash, Neil Loughran and Cahair O’Kane agreed that it would be a serious test for the Derry side.
"Watching Omagh last week, they're well set up and it's going to be a very tight, tactical battle,” said Loughran.
"It's a very dangerous one for Slaughtneil. They're favourites for Ulster with good reason but that side of the draw is exceptionally hard looking,” agreed O’Kane.
"The game three years ago could easily have gone Omagh's win, though Slaughtneil did brilliantly to recover from four down and turn it around.
"They're the kind of side that's well set up and very good defensively, and they have forwards. They have scorers. They're almost ideally set up to beat Slaughtneil in the sense that it'll take a team with four top-class forwards to get over the line because of the quality of their man-marking options.
"Of the four games this weekend, it's the hardest to call. The bookies have Slaughtneil 2/5 and I think it's a hell of a lot closer looking than that. You'd just side with Slaughtneil and no more, but it wouldn't be any great surprise if Omagh did come out of Celtic Park with a win."
Meanwhile, Andy Watters predicted a possible shock with the prospect of Derrygonnelly Harps ending Fermanagh’s miserable record in the competition when they face Armagh Harps at the same time on Saturday.
The Harps are three-in-a-row winners in the county and have had the misfortune of meeting Slaughtneil in their first two outings in the province, but Watters feels that blessed with a home draw, they could upset the bookies’ odds – which had Derrygonnelly at 9/2 this morning, but have since gone in to 11/4.
"Armagh Harps have been in three Armagh finals in four years, but they were well beaten by Cross in two of those,” said Watters.
“On the other side, Derrygonnelly won three-in-a-row in Fermanagh but they were well beaten in Ulster by Slaughtneil in the first two forays into Ulster.
"Fermanagh have a fairly awful record in the Ulster club. Roslea got a win a few years ago and before that you have to go back to Enniskillen Gaels in the 2000s, who had a couple of great tussles with Crossmaglen, including a final that one of the McEntee brothers won at the death.
"I'd lean towards Derrygonnelly, with their experience and home advantage."