(Saturday, 5.15pm & 7.00pm)
Foreglen v Ogra Colmcille
(Tom O’Kane, Daryl Buttress)
On home soil Foreglen are hard to beat and will go into this game as strong favourites against an Ogra Colmcille team that has improved but are unfortunate to be meeting so many strong teams early in the competition. Foreglen have a lot of pace going forward and a defence anchored by county panellist Oisin Duffy gives little away.
Stephen Devlin, who scored 0-10 in the defeat at Steelstown, has had a new lease of life in the Ogra attack and he will take every chance that comes his way. Paddy McGuigan has given the Drumullan side more focus. The Foreglen front men Kevin O’Connor, Niall McFeely and Ciaran McFeely should have the measure of the Ogra defence.
Limavady v Sean Dolans
This is a crucial game for the basement teams and the loser will face a long hard summer. In 2009 Dolan’s dominated the junior ranks and Limavady followed suit in 2010 but both have found the step up very difficult. Former Limavady assistant manager Mark Quigley is now in charge at Dolan’s but he is their third manager in just over six months. The experienced Hugh Mulholland has been working patiently with the Limavady squad who are training well but they don’t seem to be able to put it together on the field. This game will hardly be a classic but for both it is a must win game and nothing will be left to chance. Limavady might be the fitter team and that could be enough to get them off the bottom.
Moneymore v Desertmartin
(JJ Cleary Kevin McAllister)
A good old fashioned local derby between two unbaten teams but Moneymore with full points. Both have experience and a good set of forwards. Christy Young and Mark O’Neill may have the edge at midfield for the home team and with Paudie and Stevie O’Neill very accurate the St. Martin’s defence will need to be on their toes. On the other hand Desertmartin have excellent front men in Donal Murray, Cormac McGuckin, Paul McGovern and Barry McEldowney so it could be quite a high scoring affair. A close contest with Moneymore perhaps just coming out in front.
Drumsurn v Swatragh
(Joe Mulholland Michael McLaughlin)
Swatragh are back in the Intermediate ranks after a quarter of a century in senior football and they have not found the transition easy. They face a stiff test away to Drumsurn who have made a good start, harvesting seven points from their four games. With some players unavailable and some out injured, the St. Matthew’s outfit have shown a huge improvement from last year.
Swatragh are strong up the middle but lack pace in certain areas. Ciaran Mullan will drift all over the field as the Drumsurn playmaker and if he is allowed a lot of freedom Swatragh could suffer.
However, visiting boss Artie Kearney will be anxious to get his team back up to the expected level and the influence of Michael Friel and Ruairi Convery might just see them past the post
Lissan v Ballymaguigan
(E.P. Cassidy & Kevin Martin)
The loss to injury of Shane McGlone was a big blow for Lissan but they have got their heads down and worked hard to compensate. Lissan have some good forwards like Patrick Coey, Charles McCann and Kevin O’Hagan and are one of the physically strongest teams in the division. Ballymaguigan carry a lot of experience and are strong around the middle of the field. In Andrew McCartney, Sean Brady, Ciaran McIvor and Patrick Spiers they have potential match winners and in what looks to be a very close contest might just come out in front.
Steelstown v Slaughtmanus
(Dessie Loughery & James McQuillan)
Injury-hit Steelstown have made their best league start in a long time but they have a difficult enough assignment at home to Slaughtmanus, a team looking to get back to senior football after their one year stay in 2010. In terms of player strength, Steelstown are by far the best equipped in the division but players at various Universities and injuries leaves them seldom able to field their best 15.
Slaughtmanus have made a decent enough start and are one of the teams fancied to be near the top at the finish. New manager Eugene O’Kane will be pleased enough with what he has seen so far and now with a full panel to pick from will be hopeful of getting something from this game. They will only achieve that if they can curb the influence of Daniel Jackson, Aidan and Stephen Cleary and Mark Brennan in a razor sharp Steelstown attack.
Craigbane v Claudy
This parish derby will have plenty of spice and plenty of scores but to date Craigbane have been going the better of the two even with a number of key players missing in each game. Claudy have been involved in a number of close games but mostly they have been on the wrong end of the score line and this is their stiffest test to date. Craigbane with a full strength team will be very hard to beat and they will go into this one as very strong favourites. Claudy have a very young team and can only improve as Geoffrey McGonigle gets to know his squad better. The ability around the centre of the field of Blaine Gormley, Ciaran McElhinney and Gavin Conwell should be enough to see the points staying at home.
Ballerin v Faughanvale
(Sean McGuigan Gerard Mullan)
After a good league run in 2010 Faughanvale have had a difficult start. They travel to a Ballerin team that recently defeated them by 2-17 to 0-9 at home in the O’Hagan Cup. The loss of Shaun Cassidy has been a setback for the ‘Vale but they have the capacity to get back on track. Ballerin have lots of pace in their half-backs and full-forward lines and have improved on last year. They already have the same number of points from four games as they had from twelve last year. Faughanvale will have to deal with the twin threat of Eugene Mullan and Cathal Faulkner in the Ballerin attack if they are to come out on top. It is likely to be a lot closer this time but Ballerin still look the better prospect.