GAA Football

Banagher cause a mild surprise with victory over Loup

Slaughtneil’s Padraig Cassidy will be hoping he and his team-mates avoid the same fate as Loup, the team they beat in last year's Derry SFC final, when they begin the defence of their title this weekend. Loup were beaten on Friday night by Banagher. Conot Nevin's Ballinderry will also be in action Picture: Margaret McLaughlin
By Seamus Mullan

M&L contracts Derry SFC round one: Loup 1-15 Banagher 1-17

IN a thrilling encounter at Owenbeg last night Banagher scored a shock but richly deserved win over a hotly-fancied Loup side.

The sides shared the opening six scores before Loup hit four unanswered points.

However, full-back Oisin McCloskey raided down the right in the 20th minute and squeezed the ball to the corner of the net from a tight angle to help Banagher to a 1-9 to 0-9 interval lead.

Banagher dominated the second half but a mistake by Mark Lynch saw Anthony O’Neill intercept his intended pass out of defence and he set up Ciaran Devlin for a goal and a 1-15 to 1-14 lead.

Banagher finished strongly with points from Mark Lynch, Peter Hagan and Conor Feeney for a deserved victory. 

The remaining seven games in the opening round of the Derry SFC will be played Saturday and Sunday.

The action starts at Glen on Saturday (2.15pm) with Ballinascreen meeting 21-times champions Bellaghy.

The last of those 21 titles came in 2005, while ’Screen must go back to 1973 for their last glory year.

Ballinascreen will look to the likes of Benny Heron, Carlus McWilliams, Barry Grant, Dermot McBride and Shane Mulgrew, while Peter Cassidy, Ruairi McElwee, Frankie Donnelly and Ryan McNally should be prominent for Bellaghy. Ballinascreen will start slight favourites.

The first game in Saturday’s double-header at Owenbeg sees the clash of Kilrea and Dungiven at 6.15pm.

Kilrea are very strong around the middle of the field, where the Kielt brothers – James, Charlie and Larry – can fire over points from long distance.

Dungiven have quality in Kevin Johnston, Mark Craig, Paddy Kelly, Ryan McElhinney and Donal McGilligan and might just edge what could be a high-scoring game.

Next up at Owenbeg (8pm) will be Lavey and Glen in what looks to be one of the more attractive games over the weekend.

Last year, Glen made a big impact beating Swatragh and Dungiven before giving Loup a real run for it.

Lavey, for their part, always hit their best when championship time comes around and they will fancy their chances of getting past their young neighbours.

Glen have some very dangerous forwards like Stevie O’Hara, Tiarnan Flanagan, Conor Convery and Danny Tallon.

Tall Lavey full-forward Cailean O’Boyle will be the main danger to the Glen defence, while the return of Niall Toner will be a boost.

On Sunday, the action opens at Banagher where Glenullin and Greenlough lock horns (2.15pm).

In their fleeting senior championship appearances over the years Greenlough have not made any impression.

Glenullin are always dangerous opposition in the John McLaughlin Cup and they have a lot of experienced players in Brian Mullan, Gerard O’Kane, Eoin Bradley, Paddy Bradley and John O’Kane.

Greenlough have quality forwards in Niall Loughlin and Enda Lynn but the greater experience of the Mitchel’s should prevail.

Ballinascreen hosts seasoned championship campaigners Ballinderry and Claudy at 4pm, the Mitchel’s hoping to match their league display when they ran the Shamrocks to four points.

Ballinderry reached the semi-final last year but lost to Slaughtneil and players like Kevin McGuckin, Ryan Scott, Enda Muldoon Kevin ‘Moss’ McGuckin, Conleth Gilligan and Michael McIver backbone a very experienced 15.

Aaron Kerrigan and Marty Donaghy have the ability to open up the Shamrock’s defence but the Shamrock’s are odds-on favourites to advance.

The two concluding games in the weekend championship programme will be played at Owenbeg, where holders Slaughtneil, who are going for a third successive title, meet parish rivals Swatragh at 6.15pm.

Swatragh have fine players in the Kearney brothers – Francis, James and Patrick – Conor, Paul and Niall McAtamney and Mickey Friel, but they will need a herculean effort to overcome the reigning champions.

The vastly experienced Patsy Bradley will anchor midfield, and the finishing power of Christopher Bradley, Sé McGuigan and Shane McGuigan ought to take Slaughtneil to victory.

The final game matches 2017 ACFL Division One champions Coleraine and Magherafelt at 8pm.

They met three years ago when the Rossas were strong favourites but the Coleraine men won comfortably.

The Rossas have not been able to make the championship breakthrough over the years despite having good league results.

Coleraine, the 2010 champions, reached the final two years ago and had they been a bit more attack-minded they could have beaten Slaughtneil that day.

Owen Roes will be without the vastly experienced Barry McGoldrick, who was sent off in their last championship game in 2016.

Magherafelt have key players in Danny Heavron, Shane Heavron, Jarred Monaghan, Ryan Ferris and Emmett McGuckin who have the ability to drive their team on and if all goes to plan they are well capable of beating the Bannsiders.

The Eoghan Rua still have the bulk of the team that won the 2010 championship and they will feel that there is still another championship in this team. The Rossas will have similar aspirations.

M&L Contracts Derry Senior Football Championship round one

Saturday, August 12

Ballinascreen v Bellaghy (Glen, 2.15pm)

Kilrea v Dungiven (Owenbeg, 6.15pm)

Lavey v Glen (Owenbeg, 8pm)

Sunday, August 13

St Oliver Plunkett, Greenlough v Glenullin (Banagher, 2.15pm)

Ballinderry v John Mitchel’s GAC, Claudy (Ballinascreen, 4pm)

Swatragh v Slaughtneil (Owenbeg, 6.15pm)

Coleraine v O’Donovan Rossa, Magherafelt (Owenbeg, 8pm)

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