It's well past time for Bryansford to shine in Down championship
BYRANSFORD are a team who have failed to deliver in the Down senior club championship in recent seasons. Bursting with potential and quality footballers, the dark horse tag has weighed heavy on the Newcastle side's shoulders.
They take on John Kennedy’s up and coming Glenn in Sunday’s prime-time slot at Pairc Esler (7.30pm) in a game which should be too close to call. Kallum King has retired from the game, but Bryansford will look to the talented ever-green Conor Maginn and his county team-mate David McKibbon to drive the team forward. Danny Savage is another creative footballer, while goalkeeper Marc Reid will be confident following his late call-up to the Down squad.
Glenn are a team littered with players who could make an impression on the county panel. Indeed, former Sunderland midfielder Liam Bagnall was in James McCartan’s sights when he was Down boss, while Niall McParland couldn’t accommodate Eamonn Burns last season, but his midfield performances this year have impressed again. Shay Millar and Mattie Bagnall are special talents up front, while young Ronan Millar has a powerful strike and can confidently score from 45 metres.
However, before Sunday’s match there are a few equally important games due to take place, with Loughinisland facing Castlewellan in Saturday’s opener in Downpatrick (3.30pm). Castlewellan are a side who will fancy their chances of making it to the later stages of the championship, while Loughinisland will look to build on last season’s success at intermediate level.
Rory Mason and big Dan Gordon remain key players for Loughinisland, whereas Castlewellan will call on the sharp-shooting duo of Sean Dornan and Cathal Crilly to keep the scoreboard ticking over, while Kevin McKibbon holds the aces attacking from deep. Many within the county feel Castlewellan have this game in the bag, but the 'Island won’t be too far away in Saturday's clash.
Later in the evening, Warrenpoint and Annaclone travel to Mayobridge for a 7pm throw-in. St Peter’s, Warrenpoint have lost a number of young players through emigration, but they still possess enough quality to get past a dogged Annaclone.
The hard-working Ciaran McCartan has returned from America, which is a massive boost to the seaside town and, with the prolific scorer Ross McGarry, industrious Ryan Mallon along with Boyle brothers Ryan and John, Warrenpoint should be confident of getting a result, as long as they perform.
In their way will be an Annaclone side who have struggled in recent championships but, with tough taskmaster Justin Lynch in charge, Warrenpoint can expect a tough battle. Benny McArdle’s return from long-term injury came too late for Down, but he is the heartbeat of this Annaclone team and his importance cannot be underestimated.
The attention then turns to Castlewellan on Sunday, where Downpatrick play Longstone at 3.30pm. The 'Stone have struggled in recent years but, with Mark Poland and Michael Ireland in their side, they may just have enough to shake off Downpatrick.