Eoghan Rua will look to contnue their fine early season form when they host Bellaghy on Sunday.
H&A Mechanical Division 1A
Eoghan Rua v Bellaghy
Bellaghy will pay a rare visit to the north coast on Sunday where they will play in form Eoghan Rua at Agherton (2.30pm). So far the Coleraine team has been able to field at near full strength and they may have an advantage in that several of the younger Bellaghy players are in the Derry squad. The two Seans have been introducing some younger players into their generally experienced team. This leaves them with some tried and tested players on the bench who can be introduced and make an impact. Around the middle third Niall Holly, Colm and Sean Leo McGoldrick can win enough ball to supply the front men with match winning scores. Their win over Claudy last Friday was their third in succession.
Glen v Loup
Glen’s new manager Malachy O’Rourke will be pretty happy with how his team has been progressing. With half a dozen first team players unavailable due to being in the Derry county panel this has given him the opportunity to strengthen his panel. Players like Paul Gunning, Marc Dixon, Conleth McGuckin and Tiarnan Flanagan have been very impressive. There is sure to be a lot of competition for places when championship time comes around! Loup have all players available and being the more settled team should win with their deadly front three of Anthony O’Neill, Ciaran Devlin and Caolan Devlin capable of opening up the Maghera side’s defence.
Swatragh v Claudy
Swatragh will be a bit disappointed with their start to the league but new manager Kevin Madden seems to have been experimenting a bit. They host Claudy who have also been a bit slow out of the traps losing all three to date. Swatragh have a much stronger looking squad and with Conor and Niall McAtamney at midfield it should be a interesting duel between them and the McGahon brothers Shane and Eoin. In attack, Sean Kearney has been the Davit’s bright light. Claudy have a tight and experienced squad with plenty of pace but Swatragh look stronger up the middle.
Slaughtneil v Ballinascreen
What is virtually a Slaughtneil reserve team will entertain Ballinascreen at Emmett Park and unless the visitors improve they may return empty handed. The lack of scoring power in attack is big problem for Ciaran McElroy’s men. Recently they scored jut four points against Loup and one of them came from a defender! With virtually all their first team players being in the Derry hurling and football squads a mixture of the old and new have been wearing the maroon and white of Slaughtneil. They still have Christopher ‘Sammy’ Bradley available and he can lead them to victory!
Lavey v Ballinderry
Lavey have made a very solid start to the campaign and they look too strong for Ballinderry who are probably at their weakest for a generation. With a new generation of Downeys and McGurks adorning the Lavey team sheet the Guladuff side is trending upwards. With a team unrecognisable from even five years ago the Shamrocks have been mixing and matching to keep in the big league. They will not be overrun by any team but they just lack the quality of the past. It looks like another good day out for Lavey.
Magherafelt v Newbridge
The Rossas, without being spectacular, have made a solid start and they will be strong favourites to get past neighbours Newbridge. The ‘Bridge have been doing fairly well considering that two of their top defenders are tied up with Derry. Magherafelt seem to be playing more of an attacking game this year. They tend to play championship games with the hand brake on so maybe they will be taking a different approach when the John McLaughlin Cup is up for grabs. They look too strong all round for their visitors.
New Forces Emerging In Division 1B
Reputations are not really counting for much in the second grade as a few teams have found out. In round four a few reputations need to be repaired. Maybe it is the case that without relegation or promotion some are trying to find new talent. Still a few intriguing games this week end again.
Steelstown v Drumsurn
Drumsurn’s win over Dungiven made a few people sit up and take notice and they have yet to be to full strength. They travel into the city to take on the Brian Og’s at Pairc Brid and this will be a real test for them. Steelstown play a fast and open game of football which could be dangerous in the face of Drumsurn’s counter attacking style. The St. Matthew’s have a strong midfield in the form of former Derry minors Dara Rafferty and Shea Murray and this could give tem the edge.
Foreglen v Kilrea
Both have had mixed results so far, so this one is hard to call. Kilrea manager Declan Bradley has been using a lot of young players. The return of Niall Johnston has been a timely boost. Foreglen always give it all they have and with a relatively small population area have been quite successful. Foreglen’s midfield anchor man Mark McCormick has missed the opening few games but in this area Liam O’Hara and Niall McConomy have done OK. If Kilrea give away fouls Kevin O'Connor will punish them.
Faughanvale v Banagher
Faughanvale have been showing a lot of promise despite being without several injured key players. They are at home to Banagher and will be hopeful of adding to their good run. To be successful they will have to keep Banagher corner forward Tiernan Moore quiet. The slick corner forward has hit 2-15 in the first to games. At the other end Paddy O’Kane is a consistent scorer for Joe Gray’s well tutored team. The ‘Vale might just do enough. Banagher were mighty impressive in scoring a big win over Slaughtmanus in round three.
Slaughtmanus v Lissan
Slaughtmanus are hard to beat at Father Gallagher Park so the young Lissan team face a real test of their credentials after a long journey. With a team laced with promising teenagers it will take time for Kieran O’Kane to get the best out of them. Slaughtmanus look to have the more dangerous attack through Gavin McShane, Caolain Hargan and Conor McGee who has yet to sparkle. Lissan have a superb young player in Iarlaith Donaghy who is one for the future. Slaughtmanus to pick up the points in what may be a low scoring game.
Greenlough v Dungiven
Two of the ‘big boys’ have not been at their best so far. Dungiven are rebuilding and Greenlough have been without county player Niall Loughlin as well as losing midfield powerhouse Niall Bradley to a serious knee injury in the opening game against Kilrea. Dungiven have loads of pace and skill but they lack height in the key areas. Still they may have enough to get the better of an under strength Greenlough team.
Castledawson v Glenullin
Both lost their opening two games but they are better than those results show. Glenullin have been introducing youth to balance out retirements in recent years. Castledawson have a well balanced and physically strong team and it s a bit surprising that they have not been doing better. Glenullin seem to do well enough in spells during games. That lack of consistency will need to be eroded if they are to get back to where they used to be. With home advantage Castledawson could well add to Glenullin’s poor start.
Due to the junior final on Friday evening the CCC has decided top play round ten. In this round Desetmartin would be meeting Cragbane so it allows the other teams to have a game.
Sean Dolans v Ardmore
Improving Ardmore travel across the city to meet Dolans at Piggery Ridge. It has been a long time since Ardmore have beaten the Creggan men but on current form it will be a close encounter. The Dolan’s play their best football at home and this could tilt the game in their favour.
Ballerin v St. Canice’s
After their big win away to Ballymaguigan last Sunday this game looks to be well within Ballerin’s comfort zone. They are vastly more experienced than the younger Dungiven team. With Gary Keane an excellent full forward by any standard the odds are on a home win. Niall McGonigle has been scoring freely for St. Canices but he will need a lot of support if they are to cause a surprise.
Limavady v Doire Colmcille
This looks to be a monumental task for the city side as they travel to a strong and high scoring Limavady team. The Wolfhounds have improved a lot under the coaching of Karl Diamond and their forward division is arguably the best in the division. Teenager John Butcher has scored 3-7 in his last two games.
Drum v Moneymore
Two teams badly in need of a victory meet at Gortnaghy and some team will get a first victory. Drum have been very weak this season getting few scores. Moneymore like the opposition have yet to get a victory but they have been scoring more freely. It is their defence that is the problem. They should get their first victory here.
Ballymaguigan v Pearses
Pearses have been improving but probably not enough to get the points here. Ballymaguigan suffered a surprise and heavy defeat at home to Ballerin last week and they will be expected to bounce back here. Over the years Pearses have been able to match the lough shore men sol it could be an interesting clash.