DIV TWO: Steelstown tipped as Glenullin march on
H&A Mechanical Services All County Football League Division Two
Slaughtmanus v Lissan (Friday, 7.30pm)
Unless Slaughtmanus can get more out of their attack they face the prospect of a fourth successive defeat.
To date they have scored just 0-15 from three games and only six of the points have come from open play. That said, they were without their two main scoring forwards, Kevin King and Gavin McShane, in their last outing against Ballymaguigan where they fell to a 10-point defeat.
Lissan do not have great record on the road but it is a long road from Lissan to Slaughtmanus. The defensive style played by Slaughtmanus has not been working as 1-33 ‘against’ and 0-15 ‘for’ suggests. It may have been dictated by personnel at times but they need to start hitting the target with more consistency to start climbing the table.
Lissan were a bit unlucky not to be closer to Craigbane in their last away game. They have a lot of experience in their ranks and a player in full-forward Paddy Coey who can make the difference if Slaughtmanus are still short handed.
If King and McShane are back and Slaughtmanus open up slightly they can win this but Lissan look slight favourites in the form book.
Verdict: Lissan slight favourites.
Craigbane v Ballerin (Saturday, 7.00pm)
Craigbane have been in good enough form despite the loss of so many players from last year.
Such has been the depth of retirements, injuries and emigration that they are no longer able to field a reserve team so they deserve immense credit for remaining so competitive at the top end of Intermediate football.
Ballerin have a very poor record against the ‘Lily Whites’ and while they look to be an improved team from last year, they may fall short again. While Craigbane may be short number wise they have those top class players like Adie McLaughlin, Bliain Gormley, Lee Moore and Jude McLaughlin who are able to lift the team and get a result. While they are not the team of a few years ago, Craigbane are still very hard to beat, particularly at home.
Ballerin have plenty of pace but if they are to get anything from the game they’ll need every player to be at their best. With one win from three, Ballerin have played well in patches but don’t look to have the consistency to cope with a Craigbane team that possess plenty of firepower.
Verdict: All ‘Lily White’ on the night!
Steelstown v Ballymaguigan (Friday, 7.30pm)
With the league draws made annually, teams often have to make the same journey year after year. Last year Ballymaguigan caused a major shock by defeating Steelstown away and they will be trying for a repeat again. They have been playing well so far with five points from three games.
Steelstown have had the misfortune to be paired with Foreglen and Glenullin in their first two games so their promotion aspirations were well shaken before the league had even warmed up. Their game against Moneymore last week was called off.
Ballymaguigan were big improvers last year and player-manager Darren Conway has continued that progress. They are solid and experience, playing a pretty straightforward and effective game. Steelstown remain a strong team and after being caught cold by the St. Trea’s last year they will be anxious to get a result this time. They are not as potent in attack as they were in the past but if Mark Foley, Neil Forester and Mickey McKinney can get enough opportunities they have the capabilities to win.
Verdict: First win for Brian Ogs.
Drumsurn v Desertmartin (Friday, 7.30pm)
Drumsurn have a pretty good record against the St. Martin’s but they will have to be at their best if they are to overcome the well organised Longfield men this time around.
In round two, Desertmartin lost to Castledawson by five points but had they taken their chances they could have got a result which would have shocked many. Drumsurn may be minus the injured Ciaran Mullan, their experienced attack leader, and his absence would be a blow as he not only contributes scores but helps dictate most of Drumsurn’s attacking play.
Desertmartin have always been a solid, dependable outfit who have probably under achieved over the years. They are physically stronger than their hosts. However Drumsurn have always been able to get goals and this is something Desertmartin have to guard against though if Mullan is absence Drumsurn nees other to step up to that attacking plate.
There is not likely to be much between the teams and the result could boil down to the free taking of Pearse McNicholl and Declan Murray which makes discipline in the tackle the key issue.
Verdict: Could be a close away win.
Glenullin v Moneymore (Friday, 7.30pm)
Moneymore step into the lion’s den when they travel to Sean O’Maolain Park to take on leaders Glenullin.
Just over a year ago, Glenullin were flying high in Division One and Moneymore were in Division Three. Now they met in the middle and it looks to be the most difficult task that the visitors have, or will, face this year. Glenullin look to be much stronger in terms of attacking options. They have been scoring freely while Moneymore have not.
A closer look will show that Moneymore have conceded just 1-11 in their first two games but they will not face a stronger attack than Glenullin this season. The Moneymore forwards have scored just 0-11 in the two games and that sort of return won’t count against the Mitchel’s.
Glenullin are wise enough not to take anything for granted as they plot a way back to Division One. Paddy Bradley, Neil McNicholl and Eoin Bradley have quality and finishing power up front. Moneymore have some very good players themselves but lack the overall strength to stop Liam Bradley’s team.
Verdict: Clear home win for leaders.
Faughanvale v Foreglen (Sunday, 6.00pm)
These teams met in the James O’Hagan Cup last February when Faughanvale came out with a four point victory.
While Foreglen are likely to be stronger this time they will face a stiff hour against the strong and generally young Faughanvale team who swept the boards in junior football last year. Foreglen, after two seasons in Division One, are one of the favourites to get back to the top but away games in Division Two are proving to be a stumbling block for a number of teams.
Faughanvale do not fold easily as they showed by scoring two injury time points to beat Ballerin in their last home game.
Foreglen have a young forward line guided by Kevin O’Connor and their pace will give the home defence plenty to think about. Joe Gray conducts the Faughanvale orchestra from the centre-half forward position. It will not be surprise to see him being shadowed by Oisin Duffy. If Foreglen can limit Gray’s contribution they but ‘Vale are far from a one man show with Eunan Murray back. Looks a great contest with the O’Brien’s favourites.
Verdict: O’Brien’s but won’t be easy.