Steelstown, Craigbane must win to guarantee Division One safety
Glen’s quest for points could hit the wall in this one. They are struggling in the lower reaches of the league and Bellaghy will start very strong favourites. Bellaghy are in the comfort zone of the league and will have their minds set on championship progress but on form they should win. However, in end of season league games anything can happen, but if Glen are to win they must be at their very best. John McCamley will be back to bolster them in the middle of the field and he, along with Johnny Bradley, should have a great contest with Fergal Doherty and Joe Diver. Bellaghy have been scoring well in attack should win.
Craigbane v Ballinascreen
Things have gone downhill for Craigbane in the last couple of months and this battle with Ballinascreen from the other side of the Sperrins could go a long way to deciding their first division future. Ballinascreen have been a bit unpredictable this season but they travel as firm favourites given their very strong panel against Craigbane’s badly depleted one. The St. Colm’s will be gearing up for their big championship clash with Bellaghy and this will be their last outing until then.
Craigbane will have Fergal Crossan back at full back and that should help a defence that leaked 2-22 against Slaughtneil in their last outing. The absence of the free-scoring Lee Moore has weakened the Craigbane attack and they will struggle to get anything from this game.
Loup v Kilrea
Kilrea are back in the groove after a mid season blip during which they lost four in a row. They beat Bellaghy in their last outing and with the championship in mind will be all out to keep the momentum going against a Loup team that has had two hard championship games against Glenullin. While Kilrea adopt an all out attacking policy Loup tend to pack their defence and attack on the break but over elaboration sometimes can be their undoing. Kilrea have a generally young and physically strong team with plenty of scoring options in attack. They can hit points from long range and that could beat the tight defensive formation of the home team. Both are in the upper half of the table but on current form Kilrea might just edge it.
Lavey v Coleraine
Lavey are not playing well this season and face a difficult home game against Coleraine who are in the upper half of the table. Lavey are just above the safety zone so both managers, Henry Downey (Lavey) and Sean McGoldrick (Coleraine) will use this as a pre-championship outing. Both look capable of making the next round of the championship at least.
It is not likely to be a high scoring affair but in attacking terms Coleraine with Ciaran McGoldrick in good form might have the edge. Cailean O’Boyle is the top Lavey man in attack but they must improve in defence to stop the well organised Coleraine side. On form it looks like Coleraine if they field at full strength.
Ballinderry v Slaughtneil
With both teams having qualified for the title play-off and seen as the two leading championship contenders there could be a bit of cat and mouse in this one. Ballinderry have lost just one of their 14 games to date while Slaughtneil have lost two. The result will mean little except a bit of pride and don’t be surprised if players are held back for the Championship. Ballinderry with Conleth Gilligan in top form look to have the better attack and that could keep the points at Shamrock Park.
Magherafelt v Greenlough
This is the case of top versus bottom and unless there is a huge upturn top usually wins. Slick moving Magherafelt have been a revelation this year under Gary Coleman who is seen by many as a future Derry manager. They defend well and attack in waves, when their top scorer Emmett McGuckin went to the USA for the summer some felt that the Rossas would lose their momentum but not so, they have just kept on winning. Greenlough had Gary Coleman as their manager last year and he kept them safe among the big boys and now his new team could put them into a relegation play-off position. Greenlough will have Enda Lynn to drive their attack forward but it is hard to see anything other that a Magherafelt victory.
Steelstown v Glenullin
Steelstown have surprised most people with their performances after last season’s promotion. It took a bit of time for Hugh McGrath’s team to bed in but with eight points they should keep out of the relegation play-off situation. Glenullin have hit a good run of results after a slow start and will travel as favourites. They have a tight defensive formation with Paddy and Eoin Bradley in attack to sore on the counter attack. Steelstown have a fast young team that can grow into senior football and with Stephen Cleary back after six months working in Holland they will not be blown away by any team. Glenullin have had some hard games in league and championship of late but they still should have enough to get the points from the Brian Ogs.