Kilcoo are primed for seven-in-a-row

Kilcoo are primed for seven-in-a-row

8 August 2018

IT’S GAA championship action all the way over the next five days with Kilcoo bidding to rewrite the record books.

The Eoghan Rua Park side are intent on winning the SFC title for an unprecedented seventh year in a row and few would bet against them achieving that.

The Magpies open their campaign in Castlewellan on Saturday night when they face a tough assignment in Bryansford, but they will be expected to clear the first hurdle in style.

The SFC opens tomorrow night when Clonduff take on Saval in Pairc Esler with the IFC encounter between Annaclone and Glasdrumman acting as a curtain-raiser. 

Clonduff should get the better of Saval, but neither side are on top of their game at the minute.

Saval have been a bit hit and miss of late. They are currently cast adrift at the bottom of Division 1 and last Friday’s defeat to Downpatrick did their survival chances a lot of harm, but they have recorded a win in recent weeks over Bryansford.

They will again look to Niall Madine, who went off injured on Friday night and former county captain Danny Hughes for inspiration, but Clonduff, despite losing their last five games, should prevail, especially with Ross Carr, Darren and O’Hagan and Arthur and Stephen McConville in their ranks.

The IFC game between Annaclone and Glasdrumman should also be a close affair. Annaclone on their day are a match for anyone, but they are finding the going in Division 2 pretty tough and are currently third from bottom.

Glasdrumman play their football in Division 3, but are well off the pace after an indifferent spell. Annaclone will again be led by Benny and Gary McArdle and will look to James Fegan, Sean O’Hare and Kevin Anderson for scores.

Glasdrumman have in Connaire Harrison the most destructive forward in the county and if his team-mates get a decent supply of ball into him, Annaclone beware.

There are four games down for decision on Friday night, two in the SFC and two in the IFC.

Over in Burren at 6.30pm in the IFC, Bosco take on Tullylish while at 8pm in the SFC, Mayobridge face An Riocht. In St Patrick’s Park, Newcastle, Dundrum — last season’s JFC winners — have Shamrocks as opponents in the IFC and Ballyholland take on Carryduff at 8pm.

Niall Donnelly’s Tullylish should be too strong for Bosco, who play in a division below them and Mayobridge are expected to get the better of an An Riocht side who are battling for their lives in Division 1.

Shamrocks, despite going off the boil in their last two league games and who have lost their top of the table spot to Saul in Division 3, will have far too much firepower for Dundrum in Newcastle.

The SFC game between Ballyholland and Carryduff should be a closer affair. Carryduff may play in a division below Stephen Poacher’s side, but they have a host of good, young players coming through and if they show the necessary patience, they could well cause an upset.

Saturday is going to be a busy day another with four games down for decision.

Over in Downpatrick at 1pm, Bredagh face Darragh Cross in the IFC and Castlewellan take on Longstone in the SFC at 2.30pm. There will then be a dash to Castlewellan for the IFC clash between Clann Na Banna and Drumaness at 6pm before Kilcoo and Bryansford lock horns at 7.30pm 

The Bredagh v Darragh game is an intriguing East Down derby. There is little to separate the teams in the Division 2 table, but Bredagh won the only league game between the sides back in June.

Darragh have run into a bit of form since then with Oisin McConvey, a must for any new Down panel, Matty Hardy, Shane Murray, Michael Monan and Lee Morrison all in top gear.

Bredagh will look to Donal Hughes, Conor Francis and Alan Davidson for scores, but will find the Darragh defence a tough nut to crack.

The SFC encounter between Castlewellan and Longstone is set to be another cracker.

Castlewellan are showing signs of recovery after a disastrous start to the season and in Rory Burns, Barry Travers, Colm Flanagan, Sean Dornan and Corrigan and McKibben brothers they have the men for the job, but write Division 2 promotion hopefuls Longstone off at your peril.

Conor and Cormac Poland, Michael Ireland, Ryan McDowell and Conor Doran have propelled Longstone back into the limelight and battling for promotion with Loughinisland in Division 2.

The IFC game between Clann Na Banna and Drumaness in the IFC is the curtain-raiser the SFC game of the round between Kilcoo and Bryansford.

Division 3 side Drumaness could well cause an upset as Clann Na Banna are languishing at the foot of Division 2 and have only won one of their 17 league games.

However, it will take Paul Gilchrist, Gary Murdock, Ryan Walsh, Aaron Somers, Michael Rainey and Philip Cassidy to be on top of their game.

The Kilcoo v Bryansford clash is sure to attract a huge crowd and fireworks are guaranteed.

Francie McKibben will have his charges perfectly primed and he will look to his county contingent of Marc Reid, Ruairi Wells, Conor Maginn and his son David to supply the inspiration. Kilcoo will have to keep a close eye on Danny Savage and Peter Brannigan as they will get scores from all angles.

However, there is no better team in the county than Kilcoo when it comes to negating danger men and then unleashing their own dogs of war and they don’t come any fiercer than Paul Devlin, Aaron Morgan, the Branagans and Johnstons. 

There are another four games on Sunday starting with an IFC game between Saul and Ballymartin in Mayobridge at noon. This will be followed by the SFC encounter between Glenn and Downpatrick,

The action then switches to Newry for the IFC clash between Drumgath and St John’s (6.45pm) before Rostrevor face Warrenpoint at 8.15pm in what should be a sizzling derby.

Saul have recently moved clear at the top of Division 2 and in Rory Mullen, Pierce Laverty, Adam King and the Harney brothers, Lorcan and Ciaran, they have players capable of playing at a higher level.

Ballymartin have a proud championship pedigree and they will not give in easily. They will look to Cathal Doyle, Ciaran O’Hare, Noel Kerr, Ross and Michael Cunningham and Ryan McCullagh.

The Downpatrick v Glenn game should be a straightforward one for the Hoops who have been plagued by inconsistency this season. Their county players, Peter Turley, Anthony Doherty and Conor McGrady, are all in good form and throw in the Bell brothers, Gerard Collins, Jarlath Branagan and Michael Magee and you have a side capable of causing damage in this season’s championship.

Glenn will also to look to their county contingent of Ronan and Shea Miller and Niall McParland to give them a foothold in the game, but they should find Downpatrick too hot to handle.

The Drumgath v St John’s game should be a comfortable win for the Drumnaquoile men. They have potential match winners in Conor Morgan, Chris McKay, Marty Keenan and Eoin Moag and should be too strong for their Division 3 opponents. 

The Rostrevor v Warrenpoint derby is another eagerly awaited tie. Rostrevor will be led by Caolan Mooney with Ross McGarry and Ryan Boyle and hoping to see the ‘Point through.

Atticall face Liatroim in the IFC in Clonduff on Monday night with the Burren v Loughinisland SFC game to follow at 8pm.

Liatroim are a young, blossoming side and should be too strong for Atticall. Liam Doyle, Gerard McNulty, Conor McCrickard and Liam Middleton should see the Fontenoys take their opener.

Loughinisland, who are unbeaten in Division 2, will be hoping to lower Burren’s colours. From ‘keeper Chris Turley to corner forward Stefan Mason the Blues have match winners all over the place.

Jonny Flynn, Dan Gordon, John McCarthy, Rory Mason and the McClements brothers all have the skill and physicality to give Burren a run for their money and don’t be surprised if this game has a surprise outcome.

Burren will, as usual, rely on Kevin McKernan, Ryan Treanor, Sean Murdock, Gerard McGovern and Donal O’Hare to stave off an upset.