GAA Matchbox - Ulster Intermediate and Junior Championship; Oct 19 and Oct 20 2019
ULSTER INTERMEDIATE FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP PRELIMINARY ROUND
Grange v Galbally
(today, Crossmaglen, 4pm)
PROVINCIAL first-timers Grange and Galbally get the Ulster Club Intermediate Football Championship underway in a preliminary round tie in Crossmaglen today, writes Francis Mooney.
Both go into the game battle-hardened following tough challenges in their respective championships.
Grange have negotiated a particularly perilous path on their way to the Armagh title, coming from behind to pip three fancied sides.
Having carved out comeback wins over Mullaghbawn and Clan na Gael, they scored a dramatic championship final success over Shane O’Neill’s with Cathal McKenna hitting the winning point with the very last kick.
County star Ethan Rafferty has contributed some vital scores along the way, including the only goal of the game as they won the decider by 1-14 to 0-16.
With the McKenna brothers, Miceal and Cathal, and Diarmuid Rafferty all playing at the top of their game, they’ll be hoping to keep the winning run going against the Tyrone champions.
Galbally, after a couple of comfortable wins, felt the heat in the latter stages of their championship run, getting past Greencastle by a single point in the semi-final before scoring a narrow 0-18 to 1-14 victory over Pomeroy in the decider.
Tyrone panellist Liam Rafferty, Ronan Nugent, Daniel Kerr and Enda McGarrity have matured and developed into accomplished performers who could give their side the edge today.
Grange manager John McArdle said his players need to be ready for a tough battle and a typical Tyrone challenge.
“The standard of Tyrone club football is very good, it’s very hard-hitting football, so we know what to expect,” he said.
“There’s a lot of good footballers in Galbally, they were impressive in the final.”
Meanwhile, Galbally boss John Moylan said he has little problem in motivating a squad of players who have a desire to achieve and to add further success.
“These bunch of players in Galbally, they’re very ambitious,” said Moylan.
“They’re a special bunch of players, as special a bunch as have ever come through this club, and I’ll have no problem with that. They’re ambitious, they want to win.”
ULSTER JUNIOR FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP QUARTER-FINALS
Glack v Rock
(tonight, Owenbeg, 7pm)
THREE-TIME winners Rock meet provincial novices Glack in tonight’s Ulster Club Junior Football Championship quarter-final at Owenbeg, writes Francis Mooney.
Tyrone champions Rock are challenging for their fourth Ulster title, having previously triumphed in 2007, 2014 and 2016.
For Glack, this evening’s tie marks their debut in a competition that has provided the sub-plot to many fairytales in the past.
The Derry title-holders came good this year to finally fulfil their potential and lift championship silverware for the first time in 38 years under the guidance of manager Damian Treacy and coaches Adrian McGilligan and Willie Cannon.
Niall McGowan leads a side powered by the energy of a handful of talented youngsters and guided by the wisdom and experience of seasoned campaigners like Eddie McLaughlin and Jimmy O’Connor.
“When we saw the draw we knew it was a tough one,” said skipper McGowan.
“Rock are obviously well experienced in Ulster and even on the All-Ireland stage. Look, it’s going to be a tough ask, but we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Rock’s leading marksman Liam Nugent will be the major threat up front, having finished top scorer in the Tyrone JFC. Youngster Shane Murphy is also a huge player, along with skipper and playmaker Aidan McGarrity and 40-year-old full-back Ciaran Gourley, a treble All-Ireland winner with the Red Hands.
“We don’t rely on one person in particular. In other years perhaps we did do that, but there’s a range of people there now that you can rely on to get scores in a big match,” said team captain McGarrity.
Collegeland v Buncrana
(tomorrow, Athletic Grounds, 2pm)
DAMIEN Jordan’s Collegeland will be hoping to build on their preliminary round win over St Patrick’s, Lisburn when they come up against Buncrana tomorrow.
The O’Rahilly’s recorded a four-point win in Glenavy last weekend but, in truth, they were even more comfortable than the scoreline suggested.
Shane Donnelly was the stand-out player for the Armagh side and he registered four points while team captain Cathair McGeary had another influential display.
Buncrana return to the provincial arena after a 15-year absence with their last match coming in November 2004 when they played Foreglen in an Intermediate quarter-final.
They will return to intermediate football next season after their 2-12 to 2-8 Donegal final win over Letterkenny Gaels.
They had trailed by four points at half-time but Darach O’Connor came off the bench to kick 1-1. A knee injury prevented the former Donegal player from starting, but he could be fit for more minutes here.
Blackhill v Maguiresbridge
(tomorrow, Inniskeen, 2.30pm)
BLACKHILL’S last venture into Ulster in 2016 ended with a final appearance where they lost out to Rock after extra-time.
Many of those players remain on board and their Monaghan final win over Drumhowan suggests that Aidan McCabe’s side can’t be taken lightl.
County hurler Hugh Byrne is a powerful presence around the middle while Michael Geehan and Tommy Geehan are especially dangerous in attack.
It’s now six weeks since Maguiresbridge’s Fermanagh final win over Derrylin but they have had the Division Three semi-final and final to keep them ticking over in the meantime.
They will enter this competition in confident mood having secured their first championship silverware in 19 years after that 3-11 to 1-7 county final win.
Ryan Hyde, Matthew Teague and Ciaran Corrigan struck for their goals and they have the attackers to make this a real high-scoring encounter.
Killinkere v Bright
(tomorrow,, Kingspan Breffni, 2.30pm)
HAVING lost six previous finals, Bright finally got over the line in Down and can now enjoy an Ulster clash with little pressure on them.
They’ll be in Division Four in the Mourne county next year while their opponents Killinkere will be in Division One in Cavan, so the task facing them is fairly substantial.
Still, they showed admirable spirit to get past a warmly tipped Aughlisnafin in the Down decider. Sam Duni, Kevin Groves and the impressive Gareth George were the main scorers in their 1-14 to 0-15 win with substitute Matt McKiernan grabbing that all-important goal.
Killinkere topped the Division Two table with 10 wins out of 13 this season and they backed that up with the Junior Championship.
That’s not to say that they had it all their own way though with Cnoc Bríde, in the quarter-final, and finalists Shannon Gaels really pushing them along the way.
ULSTER JUNIOR HURLING CHAMPIONSHIP QUARTER-FINAL
Sean Treacy’s v Newry Shamrocks
(today, Crossmaglen, 2.15pm)
SEAN Treacy’s will be hoping to make it three Ulster quarter-final victories from four when they come up against Newry Shamrocks this afternoon.
The Lurgan side’s victory over Mullahoran at this stage last year was their second in three attempts having also defeated Cootehill in 2015. Sandwiched between those was the one-point loss to Lamh Dhearg in 2016.
Chris Shine’s side defeated Killeavy and Cuchullain’s on their way to Armagh title with county man Danny Magee grabbing three goals along the way.
Newry Shamrocks overcame a series of final heartbreaks to defeat Ballela in the Down final but they did lose star attacker Paul Sheehan in that match, and the injury has this week been confirmed as a torn cruciate.
There are other county players amongst their ranks, but they come from the other side of the Clanrye river as Artie and Eoin McGuinness ply their trade with Armagh.