Claudy v Swatragh
This has the makings of a very good game between two teams in form. Claudy have improved hugely from last year. Aaron Kerrigan, Marty Donaghy and big Paddy Hargan are all playing well. Swatragh may not be the fastest team but they do things the simple way, get the ball into the scoring area as quickly as possible and take it from there. That direct approach and their physical advantage up the middle will make them favourites, especially with Michael Friel returning at midfield.
Doire Trasna v Ballymaguigan
Ballymaguigan make the long trip across the county where they will be strong favourites to take the points away from Doire Trasna at Lisnagelvin. The Treas have quietly hit top form, their win over Slaughtmanus taking them to the top of the table. However they cannot be complacent as Faughanvale were overturned at that venue a couple of weeks ago and Doire Trasna, on their day, can be difficult to defeat but they face a very consistent and more experienced Ballymaguigan. The likes of Andrew McCartney, Sean Brady and Paddy Cassidy should have too much for the city lads who are badly missing their big midfielder Cailean Doyle who is teaching in London. It has been a learning curve for some of Trasna’s younger players to date but they will to be at their best to get anything here.
Slaughtmanus v Moneymore
A much changed Moneymore team are not the force they were last year but they did get a first win against Drumsurn. They face a daunting task away to Slaughtmanus, one of the leading lights who now have a full panel to pick from, although they lost their unbeaten record to Ballymaguigan. Moneymore are badly missing tall midfielder Christy Young who is in America. They have been bringing in some younger players. Slaughtmanus are never easy to defeat at home where Newbridge were the last visitors to fall.
Ballerin v Limavady
This is a semi-local derby and there is generally little between the teams when they meet. Neither team is going well but Ballerin look to have the slightly better form. Limavady are very open in defence and could struggle to contain the small but lively Ballerin attack. There will be little in it around the middle of the field but Ballerin look that little bit better at the back and front. This will be a crucial game for both sides at the wrong end of the table and one neither can really afford to lose.
Drumsurn v Castledawson
At full strength Drumsurn have arguably the best set of forwards in the division but they will be fully tested by the strong Castledawson defence. The ‘Dawson have some good forwards themselves but they prefer to keep the opposition at bay and score on the counter attack. Their Donegal style defence may not win many friends but it will get results. Yet they showed that they can amass a big scores in their last game. Drumsurn tend to be a bit open in defence and if the visitors are again adventurous it could be quite a contest. In any event Castledawson will be the favourites.
Lissan v Desertmartin
This game could go either way as neither has shown any great consistency. Desertmartin usually get their best results on home soil, as they did against Foreglen last wek. Lissan have shown some good form after a couple of early blips and will hold no fears at the end of the relatively short journey to Longfield. Both are physically strong teams but it could boil down to the free takers, Patrick Coey (Lissan) and Adie McGuigan (Desertmartin). Kevin O’Hagan and Thomas Quigley will win a lot of ball in the middle third for the visitors but the St. Martin’s look to have the better attack and that may make the difference.
Foreglen v Ogra Colmcille
Ogra Colmcille have been doing much better than expected with good results like a five point away win at Ballerin and an away draw against Desertmartin. Foreglen have been doing very well considering that, on most occasions, they have been under strength. However they slipped up at Desertmartin last week. If they have a full team on duty they are very hard to defeat and it must be remembered that they have had some good victories even without their injured star forward, Kevin O’Connor. The Colmcille’s will be no pushover but they could struggle against the lively Foreglen front men.