Swatragh players eye second Championship final

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Swatragh v Castledawson

Dean McGlinchey Park,

Ballinascreen, 1.00pm

Referee: Peter O’Connor

(Desertmartin)

Swatragh will have kept an eye on the Monday night replay between Ballerin and Castledawson but it is fair to suggest that even with Castledawson coming through that game, Artie Kearney’s men will still be favourites to reach the final for a second successive year.

At half time last on Monday evening Ballerin led 1-02 to 0-01 at wet and windy Bellaghy before Paddy Henry pointed four frees to tie the scores 0-05 to 1-02 at half time and his accuracy could be crucial tomorrow.

Ballerin had to play the second half without the injured Cathal Faulkner but they still held the upperhand early on as they took a two point lead. Ten minutes into the second, with Ballerin leading 1-04 to 0-06, things looked bleak for Castledawson when they were reduced to 14-men when Martin Heaney was sent off.

However Ballerin failed to make use of their numerical advantage and, with teenager Aidan Keenan scoring three points from full forward Castledawson reached the semi final on a 0-11 to 1-06 score-line.

However the Broagh side are now likely to be without the powerful Martin Heaney for that straight red card dismissal for tomorrow’s clash with Swatragh.

Against Castledawson, Swatragh will have to deal with a packed defence and they will be only too aware that Castledawson has been one of only two teams to defeat them this season. That was in the opening round of the league when the St. Malachy’s hit them with two late goals.

Swatragh beat a spirited Moneymore by 2-13 to 1-8 after a difficult first half. Their next two ties were tough assignments and they were fortunate to beat Slaughtmanus by a point. In the quarter final they accounted for a very good Newbridge team by 1-11 to 0-11.

Castledawson defeated Claudy by two points and then dug out a good 1-8 to 2-3 victory over a lively Foreglen team. They were expected to get past Ballerin but, in a dour struggle, the teams finished level at 0-6 each and at the end of extra time it was 0-10 each.

Swatragh buoyed by the success of their hurlers will be all out to complete an unlikely double. They have quality players in Ruairi Convery, Michael Friel, rising star Conor McAtamney, the Dillon brothers and James Kearney. They look good enough to reach the finalbut they will know that Paddy Campbell’s charges will provide difficult opposition.