Banagher v Ballinascreen (Saturday, Owenbeg, 5.15pm)
McGurk Chartered Architects Derry Senior Hurling Championship Quarter Finals
For their part, Ballinascreen - who reached four finals between 1984 and 1989 - have only reach three deciders in the intervening 26 years, their last success in the dim and very, very distant past.
The respective managers, Banagher’s Brian McGilligan and Ballinascreen’s Conor Murray, will be very keen to end the barren years for their respective clubs but will each be fully aware that the first hurdle will not be an easy one to surmount.
Banagher have had a good league season but Brian McGilligan is all too aware that a lack of consistency has too often been their downfall.
Banagher have a very strong squad of players, backboned by inter-county players like Sean McCullagh, John O’Dwyer, the McCloskey brothers Ruairi, Oisin, Darragh and Tiarnan, Brian Óg McGilligan, Steafan McCloskey, Shane Farren and Darragh Cartin, but they will have to gel as a unit and perform at their best to see off the stern challenge of Ballinascreen.
Ballinascreen manager Murray believes that his side is up against it, commenting, “Banagher destroyed us in the league. They wiped the floor with us at the start of the year.”
That 3-21 to 0-13 game back in May can all but be dismissed though as it is likely to have little bearing on proceedings this weekend. St. Mary’s did have a more than decent league campaign though, winning eight of their six games and scoring more than any other team including current county champions, Slaughtneil.
For their part, ‘Screen won three from six league games but scored an average of just over 13 points per game, an average you would expect they will need to surpass this weekend if they are to defeat Banagher.
The 2013 beaten finalists also have a core of top class hurlers, players of the calibre former Antrim star Brendan Herron, free scoring Paul Cleary, Hugh Pat Kelly, Sean McBride, Aaron Kelly, Conor McSorley, Philly McGlade, Kieran Conway and Paul Burns.
This could be a shoot-out between Shane Farren and Paul Cleary, the winner of that scoring battle perhaps determining the outcome!