More tight tussles expected in knock-out Tyrone SFC
TYRONE SFC action continues this weekend with more intriguing first round ties in the LCC Group series.
Dungannon have been making steady progress over the past couple of years, building towards a long-awaited Championship breakthrough, and their clash with newly-promoted Loughmacrory at Galbally this afternoon (4.30) could provide the spark they need.
The Clarke's go into O'Neill Cup combat as the only unbeaten side in the Division One League high on confidence and performing with cohesion.
Patrick Quinn and Paul Donaghy provide the finishing power, and Padraig McNulty is a driving force at midfield, with Sean Molloy performing solidly at the heart of their defence.
Tyrone panellist Conall Grimes leads the Loughmacrory challenge, along with Antoin Fox, with Cathaoir Gallagher and Niall Donaghy looking to make the most of every scoring opportunity they create.
Dungannon manager Chris Rafferty is taking nothing for granted against the newly promoted St Teresa's, though:
"They're very organised, they're well coached, they have a structure, and they have a set-up that's very hard to break down," he said.
"Cathaoir Gallagher took us for 1-4 and he was worth it all, and then the two young county boys are excellent as well.
"Generally, we don't do particularly well in the championship, so we'll not be taking anybody for granted."
Later at Coalisland, two teams badly in need of a lift will look to kick-start their season when Ardboe take on Donaghmore (7pm).
Neither club has managed to pick up a single League point and prop up their respective group tables.
Ardboe have a side brimming with talent, with county players Kyle Coney, Michael Cassidy, David Mulgrew, and Michael O'Neill leading the charge.
Shay McGuigan and Michael Lynn provide added quality, but they will come up against a St Patrick's outfit desperate to turn the corner.
Tiarnan Drayne, Niall McKenna, Deasun Quinn, Dan Toner, Shea Hamill, and Peter McKenna lead their challenge in what could be a tense affair.
Tomorrow (Sunday) Moy face Derrylaughan at Dungannon (2pm) in the opening salvo as another day of enticing action unfolds.
Moy's attacking flair could give them an edge in this one, with Michael Conroy and Ryan Coleman racking up big scores in the League.
And with Sean Cavanagh still going strong, along with brother Colm, the Tir na nOgs have balance and experience.
Derrylaughan are still looking for their first League win but feel they can turn the corner with a Championship boost at O'Neill Park.
Tyrone midfielder Brian Kennedy is at the heart of their game plan, along with Liam Gervin, while Ciaran Quinn and Fergal McAliskey are tasked with turning possession into scores.
At the ground where they won their last SFC title back in 1981, the Barry's will be looking to step into another era of success, and they could push Moy all the way.
Loughmacrory is the venue for the meeting of Omagh and Dromore (4.30) – two teams with genuine ambitions of claiming the O'Neill Cup.
When they met in the League, it was Omagh who left Gardrum Park with both points following a 1-8 to 0-9 win, but Dromore have won all their games since the opening day, while the St Enda's have slumped to a couple of disappointing defeats.
With form on their side the St Dympna's will fancy their chances of advancing to the quarter-finals, but nothing can be taken for granted against a club that has won two SFC titles in the past six seasons.
Ruairi Sludden, Ronan McNabb, and Niall Sludden will probe for gaps in the St Enda's defence but it won't be easy on a tight pitch.
Omagh's Conor Meyler, Connor O'Donnell, Ronan O'Neill, and Ciaran McLaughlin could have a big say in the outcome of what should be a high quality encounter.
Later at Carrickmore last year's beaten finalists Errigal Ciaran face Pomeroy (7pm).
The sides met in a semi-final in 2017 when the Plunkett's were unlucky not to extend a fairytale run to an appearance in the decider.
They have since spent a season in Division Two but make their return to the Senior Championship with a confidence that they can reproduce the heroics of three years ago.
Frank Burns is an injury doubt but the McGeary brothers, Hugh Pat and Kieran, will be central to their bid to cause an upset.
"We know that we need to be playing to our potential and have everybody fit to be able to compete with Errigal and beat Errigal. I know that this group of players are capable of doing it," said Brian McGuckin, one of Pomeroy's three-man management team.
"We understand that it's a massive task, but we also know, if we play to our best, that we're more than capable of beating Errigal Ciaran."