Four counties do battle for two semi-final spots in Ulster MFC

Derry and Donegal have already reached the last four by winning their respective groups

Joshua Shehu (right) has been a key player for Cavan in the campaign so far Picture: Oliver McVeigh

IT’S knock-out football all the way from here onwards in the Electric Ireland Ulster MFC, with Tyrone and Cavan locking horns in a quarter-final tie at O’Neills Healy Park on Saturday (12pm).

They arrive at this stage on the back of contrasting group campaigns, with the Red Hands winning three of their four round-robin games, while the Breffni lads had to wait until the concluding round for their first victory.

But that 1-15 to 0-10 defeat of Antrim was enough to secure third place in Group B and keep their title challenge alive, having earlier lost to Derry and Armagh.

Tyrone, on the other hand, defeated Down, Fermanagh and Monaghan to claim second spot in Group A, losing only to Donegal, who went straight through to the semi-finals as group winners, along with Derry, who topped the other section.

The Red Hands produced their best performance to date in a 4-13 to 0-10 win over Monaghan in their most recent outing, when they hit form at Ardboe, with Jamie Concannon, Sean Óg Teague, Shea McDermott and Darren McAnespie scoring their goals.

Talented attacker Lorcan McMurray has scored heavily throughout the campaign, while Davin McKeown, Padraig Goodman and Sean Corry have been solid at the back.

Cavan’s all-important 1-15 to 0-10 win over the Saffrons at Kingspan Breffni provided a massive lift following encouraging performances in their previous games, which included a narrow defeat to Derry at Owenbeg.

In Joshua Shehu and Nathan Quigley they have accomplished finishers who combine in a potent attacking double act, while the input of Jamie Clarke and Ryan Nwaneri will be important.

Oisin Maguire has been outstanding at the back throughout the series, a steadying influence for those around him

Cavan will bring all their battling spirit to Omagh, but with a winning habit and home advantage, Tyrone may just have the edge.

Both Armagh and Monaghan enter their quarter-final (Saturday, the BOX-IT Athletic Grounds, 1.30pm) in the peculiar territory of having to lock away memories of heavy defeats in their final group matches just a week ago.

For Monaghan, it was a tale of two halves as a huge victory over Down maintained a 100 per cent record and teed the Farney up for a crack at Tyrone and Donegal.

Two away matches that were always difficult on paper, and as things transpired, Dermot Malone’s charges were beaten by a combined 25 points.

Now they are faced with another away day against an Orchard side that shipped a 2-18 to 0-7 loss to reigning All-Ireland champions Derry, in what was a top-of-the-table clash.

It may well be a case of who can put those defeats behind them, with the fixture mirroring the U20 clash between the sides that saw Monaghan cause an upset.

And, with the experience of an All-Ireland MFC final in the bank, perhaps Malone and his side can emulate their elders in enemy territory.