DIV TWO: Promotion Race heating up!
H&A Mechancal Services Division Two (Saturday, 5.30pm unless stated)
(Tonight at 8pm)
Faughanvale v Ballymaguigan
Faughanvale are unbeaten with six wins and two draws and look to be the strongest challengers to promotion favourites Newbridge. They will be favourites to get the better of a solid Ballymaguigan team that has yet to win away. ‘Vale should have done better than get a draw against a below strength Steelstown in their last game.
Ballymaguigan, on a safe looking nine points, won their last game, which was against Desertmartin but they were forced to hang on at the finish. The younger home team tend to put up the shutters at times but it may not be the best idea even though they do have the second best defensive record in the division. Ballymaguigan play it simple and direct and could trouble the ‘Vale but the overall strength of the ‘Vale should see them pick up the points.
(Tonight at 8pm)
Foreglen v Slaughtmanus
The return of Oisin Duffy and Kevin O’Connor from injury has seen a notable improvement in Foreglen’s fortunes as they’ve moved into fourth on 10 points. They take on unpredictable Slaughtmanus who are a point behind in what should be a good contest.
Slaughtmanus have yet to get their strongest team out. Games between these teams are always close but on this occasion Foreglen look to have the advantage in that they are likely to be at full strength. O’Connor, despite missing a number of games, has still shot 0-42. Rising star Conor McGee has been a ray of light on the Slaughtmanus team for this and last season and has 2-39 to his credit despite being only 19. Foreglen have a great home record and it looks set to continue.
Craigbane v Newbridge
Not so long ago Craigbane would have been favourites to give Newbridge a real test but with so many injuries, allied to retirements and players working elsewhere, they are in a rebuilding process. They are on six points and notably all have been gained at home.
The bad news for the ‘Bridge is that top scorer Peter McGrogan is out with the dreaded cruciate and is likely to miss the remainder of the season. Still they’re not short on marksmen with Danny Mulholland and the promising Conor Doherty chipping in regularly. Newbridge are favourites to go back to Division One and so far under Paddy Bradley, all has gone to plan. Given Craigbane’s home record they will have to be at their best to keep on track. Adie McLaughlin is back for the White Rocks men playing at corner forward and he will require tight marking.
Drumsurn v Steelstown
If Steelstown are to keep their ambitions of senior football still alive they need to win but given their away defeat to Drum, they will not be taking Drumsurn lightly. The St. Matthew’s have perked up after a five game losing streak to defeat Drum and Craigbane. Their revival is due to players coming back from injury.
Steelstown have not had their strongest team on duty yet due to injuries. Indeed Neil Forester has played only a handful of games. Drumsurn can always get goals with the likes of Daryl Mullan and Pearse McNicholl in the front line. The big Drumsurn ground will suit the city visitors. They are a bit brittle in defence and tend to give away needless frees, if they do that against Drumsurn they could be in bother.
This is the clash of the bottom two who are both on three points. Few would have expected the reigning Intermediate champions Castledawson to be at that end of the table but they have been missing key players. They did show a big improvement in running Slaughtmanus close in their last game.
Moneymore had every opportunity to beat Ballerin in the last round but 10 first half wides did not help their cause. Their one victory was away to Desertmartin.
Moneymore will look to Christy Young, Callan Bloomer, Rory Young and Jack Barton for a victory. Neil McNicholl, Rian Connery, Paddy Henry and Aidy Bradley might just have a stronger panel of players around them to eke out a valuable brace of points.
Ballerin v Desertmartin
There are a few crossovers in this game. Current Desertmartin manager Ronan Rocks was in charge of Ballerin last year. The current Ballerin manager Kevin Kidd is a former Desertmartin player and manager, his brother Pat is the St. Martin’s chairman.
Currently Ballerin have been shaping better and are on eight points, Desertmartin on four. Ballerin are a team with lot of youth and pace. They may not be too tight in defence but the league’s top scorer Gary Keane gets enough scores up front to keep them in contention.
Desertmartin are solid and very experienced but the return of Eugene Mullan makes Ballerin’s slight favourites.
Prediction: Ballerin .
Drum v Lissan
It took three years of hard graft for Drum to climb into intermediate football and they have made the most of it. With four home wins out of five they will be fancied to score another over visiting Lissan who are on four points.
Lissan are without ace midfielder Patrick McElroy but have still remained competitive. Drum have been missing players through injury but Kieran O’Kane will be hopeful of having a full squad available. They with just 92 points in eight games are by far the lowest scorers in the league but they have one of the best defensive records.
It is a vital game for both. A win for Drum would definitively secure their place in the division. A defeat for Lissan would leave them in deep trouble as they face a tough run in. Drum’s form has dipped in their last two games but their strong home record should see to victory.