Glenullin v Ballinderry
Both teams were victorious in their weekend games but both had to struggle to get over the line. Some excellent scores from Gerard O’Kane and Eoin Bradley saw the Mitchel’s recover from a five point deficit, but they could be without Dermot O’Kane and Ruairi Boylan who retired injured in the opening ten minutes at Craigbane. Conleith Gilligan was the key player for Ballinderry in their one point win over Ballinascreen though the Shamrocks not at their best. This could be a high scoring game.
(Tomorrow: 5.00pm and 6.30pm)
Swatragh v Bellaghy
Bellaghy struggled against Dungiven without their midfield talisman Fergal Doherty, while the absence of other key players put a huge burden on Eoghan Brown and Michael Molloy to deliver from placed balls. Hogan Cup winner Peter Cassidy could be back in action. Swatragh were also narrow losers at Banagher, the absence for the rest of the season of Ruairi Convery a huge blow. The midfield battle between Joe Diver and Michael Friel could influence the outcome.
Steelstown v Craigbane
Both these sides suffered defeat last weekend, Steelstown at Kilrea, Craigbane at home to Glenullin, and both will have targeted this particular game as a ‘can’ even ‘must’ win clash.
Craigbane allowed a five point lead to slip away against the Mitchel’s, Steelstown always struggling against Kilrea. The city side are likely to be without Daniel Jackson who suffered a shoulder injury that could keep him out for two or three weeks. If Stephen Cleary is available he will be a major influence for Hugh McGrath’s side who will be anxious to make home advantage count but Adie McLaughlin and the Moore brothers could tip the balance in Craigbane’s favour.
Ballinascreen v Lavey
These two teams will be seeking their first points after both suffered defeats against Ballinderry and Slaughtneil respectively. Ballinascreen will again be without their injured players Dermot McBride, Phillip Bradley, Carlus McWilliams and John Francis Bradley.
Lavey manager will be looking for a huge improvement after their disappointing display against the Emmet’s. They will be without Chris Henry who suffered a serious leg injury in that game and it will be interesting to see who reacts better to opening day disappointment.
Newbridge v Kilrea
James Kielt and his brother Jack were the main scorers in Kilrea’s comfortable win over Steelstown and they will be big players as Mickey Moran’s charges seek to build momentum from the start of the season. Newbridge put up strong resistance against Loup but just came up short and they will know that another difficult hour awaits against the Pearses who look a dangerous outfit this season.
Slaughtneil v Magherafelt
Slaughtneil did not have to be at their best to defeat a disappointing Lavey side, the accuracy from frees (0-06 from 0-07 of Paul Doherty) and the defensive class of Chrissy McKaigue key influences. They were without Jim and Shane Kelly, Patsy Bradley and Fergal McEldowney in that game, and could now be without Barry McGuigan who was forced to retire and needed dental treatment after a facial injury.
Rossas were very poor against Coleraine, 1-04 a meagre scoring response from an attack that scored freely last season. Magherafelt topped the table in 2012 and will want to get back to winning ways pretty soon. Emmet Park will be a difficult venue to get a result.
(Saturday: Reserve 2pm, Senior 3.30pm)
Dungiven v Loup
Both these sides won last weekend, Loup as expected, Dungiven unexpected, especially with a 15 shorn of ten of last year’s championship side. Loup will be without their top scorer from last year Anthony O’Neill who is unlikely to see much action this season. Liam Hinphey and Mark Craig are probable absentees for Dungiven but they will hope to have Paddy Kelly and Fergal McGuigan in from the start.
Sunday Reserve at 2pm; Senior at 3.30pm)
Coleraine v Banagher
Coleraine made a great start to the season with a three point win over Rossas but they are likely to be without Barry McGoldrick who limped out of that game after nine minutes. The good form of Declan Mullan was a big plus for the Bannsiders. Banagher are likely to be minus their injured county star PJ McCloskey but Mark Lynch and Paul Carton could be in which would be a huge bonus.