Dungiven v Glen (Friday, 7.30pm)
This game between county champions, Glen, and a young Dungiven team has an attractive look about it. While Glen will be without a plethora of players and also the likes of Ryan Dougan who has gone travelling, they will still be able to field a decent side. With only five regulars they still defeated Kilrea comfortably in the opening round.
After a period of struggle Dungiven have turned to former dual star Geoffrey McGonigle to put them back in the big time but it will a difficult task. Dungiven have ample skilful footballers but they lack a bit of physique in the key areas. They have every chance of a victory here against the under strength Glen who still have the likes of Michael Warnock, Alex Doherty, Conleth
McGuckin, Danny Tallon, Paul Gunning, Conor Carville and Tiernan Flanagan. Allied to that they also have an outstanding manager in Malachy O’Rourke. Dungiven lack scoring forwards but their pace and the battling spirit of Sean McKeever, Tomas Brady, Conor Murphy and Eamon Burke could see them nick a morale boosting victory. Last week they had an opening win over Lavey in a game where both were below full strength.
Bellaghy v Ballinderry (Saturday, 6pm)
Ballinderry have had the upper hand on Bellaghy for the last decade and they will travel to Sean Brown Park as favourites to keep up their good record.
While it may not be a high profile league game, have no doubt that Ballinderry will treat it as if it were a championship duel. They have been working hard to bring young players through and in time it will strengthen a team that has quite a few players nearing the veteran stage. Bellaghy probably have too many young players but with Damian Cassidy back in charge, having coached most of them at juvenile level, he can get the best out of his players.
Ballinderry have a scoring ace in Ryan Bell, Bellaghy do not have a stand out forward at present! Last week The Shamrocks were held to a draw by Newbridge while Bellaghy lost narrowly to Magherafelt/
Swatragh v Eoghan Rua (Saturday, 6pm)
Swatragh have a good squad of physically strong players but they have always found Eoghan Rua a hard nut to crack and it will be no different this time.
The Bannsiders still have their core of experience but there has been an infusion of youth injected into the team last season with Lorcan McMullan looking to be one for the future. With the McAtamney and Kearney brothers and cousins backboning a promising group, they have the potential to keep the points at Davit Park. Coleraine thumped Steelstown last week but Swatragh are in a higher plane!
Kilrea v Lavey (Saturday, 6pm)
Kilrea have a very good chance of getting a rare win over Lavey with the visitors having a host of players involved in a variety of county hurling and football teams.
Kilrea played at a lower level last year but they still scored some notable victories and were the only team to beat Drumsurn in Division 1B. Lavey will not be unduly worried about the league, they are seen as a team that is building towards a senior championship in the near future. Outings like this will give valuable game time to their fringe players. Kilrea have had a settled team in the past couple of years and that should help them on the way to victory. Both were on the losing side in round one so they’ll be hoping for better.
Slaughtneil v Newbridge (Saturday, 6pm)
It will be virtually a Slaughtneil reserve team that will travel to the ‘Bridge for this second round game. Even though Newbridge will be without their county defenders, Padraig McGrogan and Conor Doherty, they will still have the bulk of their regulars on duty.
Obviously Newbridge will be favourites but any Slaughtneil team is not easily bowled over and they will give it their all. Newbridge have some nippy forwards and they look to have a lot more scoring potential than their visitors. Both had draws last week and they could have another one here.
Banagher v Steelstown (Saturday, 6pm)
Both these teams were playing in grade two last year but Steelstown’s All Ireland Intermediate victory and Banagher’s play off win over Dungiven has given them a leg up. If Steelstown are to progress as a serious force in Derry senior club football they should be making a serious impact games like this.
The Brian Ogs had a chastening experience away to Coleraine in round one but with Hugh McGrath having given his players an extended training break, a slow start is understandable. Banagher are one of the weaker teams in the division but it my be another setback for Steelstown depending how far along they are in their return to training. Like Banagher, they have a number of players involved with county teams but they have far superior playing numbers to the St. Mary’s.
Banagher at home can be difficult but Steelstown need to have more players back if they are to win here!
Ballinascreen v Claudy (Saturday, 6pm)
Ballinascreen have been going well in pre-season competitions and will be firm favourites to get the better of surprise team, Claudy, who had just a single victory to their credit last year but it was enough to keep them in the top grade!.
They have a lot of experience in the form of players like the Kerrigan brothers, Conor Johnston and Paddy Hargan but need to stiffen up in defence. Ballinascreen have not made a lot of progress in recent years and constant changing of managers probably has not helped. They have a good balance of youth and experience and given their progress in the Ulster Senior Club League will be confident of overcoming Claudy.
In their opening games Claudy lost to Banagher while Ballinascreen beat a strong looking Swatragh team
The Loup v Magherafet (Saturday, 6pm)
This country versus town clash of local rivals usually brings the best out in both teams. Magherafelt have the bigger squad but The Loup are a tight knit bunch who do not like losing to the ‘townies’. Magherafelt have a team bursting with young talent and with experienced manager Damien Barton now in charge they look to be one of the top four teams in the county. Under previous manager, Adrian Cush, the Rossas tended to be a bit defensive but under Barton the handbrake will be let off and they’ll be more of an attacking force.
There is never much between these two when they meet but on this occasion the greater pace of Magherafelt should make the difference. The Loup will be disappointed at not beating a Slaughtneil shadow squad last week and this will be a much more difficult task