DIV TWO: Steelstown target first win as Trasna host Craigbane
H&A Mechanical Services All County Football League Division Two
Desertmartin v Slaughtmanus (Sunday, 12.30pm)
Desertmartin came away from Drumsurn with a point last week while Slaughtmanus got back on the winning trail with a 1-13 to 0-4 victory over Lissan.
However, the St. Mary’s had three players red carded in that game and that could come back to bite them at Longfield where the St. Martin’s are notoriously difficult to beat. Prior to last Friday, Slaughtmanus had scored just 0-15 in three games but they came out of the trenches to build a 13-point lead against Lissan by half time and the game was basically over at that point.
Desertmartin have three points from three games and will be happy enough with their season so far. They have the ability to shade this one which might be a low scoring affair.
Much will depend on the Slaughtmanus approach but it would be a surprise if they wanted an open game given the players who may be missing. Last week showed they retain the ability to hurt teams when at full strength but they may retreat into a defensive shell given the possible absentees and that could be just the invitation Desertmartin need to secure their second league win of the season.
Verdict: Second win for home side
Ballymaguigan v Glenullin (Sunday, 2.00pm)
This is the game of the round.
Glenullin have had four, trouble free wins on the bounce while the St. Trea’s have won three and drawn one. Glenullin will have Eoin Bradley back after missing their last game against Moneymore and that’s bad news for Darren Conway’s experienced outfit.
For the second year in a row, Ballymaguigan defeated Steelstown away. Last Saturday they dug out an excellent 1-13 to 1-12 win and they are capable of giving Glenullin their stiffest test to date, particularly with home advantage. They play a very direct game which suits their players.
Glenullin have not had a serious challenge yet with no team getting closer than eight points. They have beaten strong challengers, Foreglen, comfortably and look to be on their way back to senior football. Conway has done a great job with Ballymaguigan who have limited numbers but to cause a shock they have to curtain Neil McNicholl and Paddy and Eoin Bradley and that’s no easy task. Looks another Glenullin win.
Verdict: Mitchel’s maintain momentum
Ballerin v Drumsurn (Sunday, 2.00pm)
There is never much between these teams and form to date suggests that it will be the case again.
Last season they battled out a thrilling draw at Drumsurn and they met earlier this season in the O’Hagan Cup with Ballerin winning comfortably against the severely under strength Drumsurn. That result will mean little in this game. Drumsurn have drawn their last two games against Lissan and Desertmartin while Ballerin defeated Craigbane by a point last week which was a great result for them.
Ballerin have shown a definite improvement this year after a poor 2015. Drumsurn did well last year and have four points from four games, the same as their hosts. The two clubs sit among four, tucked in behind the leading pack and both will be looking to get points on the board early in the year to allow them to concentrate on the Intermediate championship.
Both have some very sharp forwards but both can be vulnerable at the back which might indicate another high scoring game, like last year, and it looks like a toss up between the sides.
Verdict: Slight nod for Ballerin at home
Foreglen v Moneymore (Saturday, 5.00pm)
Foreglen had a good win away to Faughanvale last Saturday and they look set to follow up with another win this weekend.
Moneymore lost their last game away to unbeaten Glenullin and they could not have faced a stiffer contest in the follow up. Foreglen have a lot of pace in their ranks with Kevin O’Connor their target man up front who is a match winner at any level. Apart from their defeat by Glenullin, the O’Brien’s have been pretty impressive.
Moneymore have had one victory out of three to date and that was away to Slaughtmanus. Their aim is to avoid relegation. Last year they saved their status with a play-off victory over Drum and they’ll be anxious to get points earlier this year. That won’t happen here though as everything points to a Foreglen victory.
Verdict: Routine home win
Lissan v Steelstown (Sunday, 3.30pm)
Lissan have one point from four games but the big surprise has been the poor form of Steelstown with three opening defeats.
It was no great surprise that they lost to Foreglen and Glenullin but they were expected to get a result at home to Ballymaguigan but fell short by a point. Lissan lost a controversial encounter away to Slaughtmanus in round four, they scored just four points and three of them were with a strong wind in their favour.
Steelstown have lost quite a number of players who were with them in Division One. Players moving away has hit them hard and they have been attempting to bring through younger players so they may take time to settle as a team and already look to be out of the promotion equation.
Saturday’s home defeat by Ballymaguigan left the Brian Ogs bottom of the table and that is an unusual place to see them but don’t expect them to stay there long.
Lissan, like Steelstown, seem to have slipped back a bit from last year and both teams need a confidence boost. Steelstown will be the favourites but they need to step up if they are to get the much needed points.
Verdict: First win for City men
Doire Trasna v Craigbane (Sunday, 3.30pm)
When these teams met in a thrilling championship game at Owenbeg last year, it went to extra time but, since then, both teams seem to have taken a backward step.
Craigbane hit by a mass of retirements and players emigrating have just three points from their four games which is unusual as they are traditionally competing at the business end of the table.
Trasna have been well beaten by Ballerin and Faughanvale. So far they have not reached the form of the previous two years and have shown a lack of staying power so far. They have loads of skilful footballers but are leaking scores in defence. Enda Lindsay’s side showed in patches against Faughanvale how good they can be but they need consistency.
Lee Moore, who nearly defeated Ballerin on his own last week, is back for the Lilywhites after missing three games and that’s bad news for Trasna. The power of David Lowry and Blain Gormley at midfield can swing things in favour of Craigbane but they picked up injuries last Saturday with Ruairi Gormley a definite non-starter and currently their panel is thin enough. Looks tight.
Verdict: Moore makes difference
Faughanvale v Castledawson (Sunday, 3.30pm)
This will be a big test for unbeaten Castledawson as they travel to a young and promising Faughanvale team who are the reigning Derry Junior champions and who have made the step back up with some aplomb.
After two wins, Faughanvale went down to a strong Foreglen team at home last Saturday but they had their chances to win that game in the first half. Castledawson are always a certainty for a high place in the league and have scored wins over Lissan, Desertmartin and Ballerin but this will be their hardest test to date.
Both have some very good young players in their ranks but, in tight games, the likes of ‘Dawson’s Aidan McElhone and ‘Vale’s Joe Gray can be the players with the wise head to turn situations around.
Faughanvale tend to be slow starters and, if they do not get out of the blocks quickly, they could be in trouble. Castledawson may have enough in attack to squeeze out a victory but Faughanvale will feel capable of taking a big scalp.
Verdict: Tight but ‘Dawson get nod