Clubs prepare to battle for quarter final places in championship this weekend

The Championship returns to the fore this weekend after a four week break, with many teams hoping to snatch a final place in the quarter finals as the groups stage reaches its climax.

The Championship returns to the fore this weekend after a four week break, with many teams hoping to snatch a final place in the quarter finals as the groups stage reaches its climax.

In Group One of the Avonmore Senior Championship, Newtown Blues are home and hosed.

Although the Drogheda men laboured past Kilkerley in the opening round of fixtures, they thoroughly dismantled the Dundalk Gaels last time out to book their place in the quarter finals.

The Gaels and Kilkerley now meet each other on Friday evening in a straight shoot out to see who will join the Blues in the next round.

Kilkerley have been bolstered by the return to fitness of Shane Lennon and the Louth forward proved his worth in the league recently, knocking over ten points against Sean O’Mahony’s two weeks ago.

As for the Rampart Road side, Benny McArdle will be relieved to have influential midfielder Sean McCann back following the rescinding of the red card he received against the Blues.

However, in the event of a draw, Kilkerley will still progress thanks to their superior point difference.

Although the two Rangers, Mattock and Glyde, are deadlocked at the top of Group Two, Mattock are already guaranteed safe passage to the quarter finals.

Underperformed

Surprisingly, the men from Collon have failed to perform so far and without the Reid brothers, David and Adrian, they would have struggled to qualify.

Meanwhile, Glyde and the other team in the group, St Mary’s, will face off in Haggardstown on Saturday evening, with only an unlikely result earning the Ardee men a place in the quarters.

The following day sees the last fixture in Group Three, as O’Raghallaighs and Dundalk Young Irelands clash in Dunleer, with the winner surging into the quarter finals behind group winner’s Cooley Kickhams.

The Dundalk side have struggled into the play-offs in lowly Division Three in the league, but have shown character in their last couple of fixtures.

Their previous championship fixture against the Peninsula side was an uninspiring match, but they kept it close and will take heart from the performance.

Colin Kelly saw his Drogheda side completely outclassed against Cooley in their first match of the Championship this year, with a salvo of three goals hammered past a bewildered looking O’Raghallaighs side in the first few minutes.

With Kelly being tipped as favourite for the Louth manager’s position it will be interesting to see if he can focus on the job at hand and guide his team into the quarter finals with a victory.

Concern

A lingering worry for Kelly is the fact that even a draw in that match will not be enough for his side.

A similar situation awaits Naomh Mairtins and Dreadnots in the last group, Group Four.

Paddy Clarke’s Clogherhead side have had a difficult introduction to senior football this year, with injuries and emigrations taking its toll.

The ‘Nots were well beaten by holders St Patricks in the opening round and while The Mairtins may have fared slightly better in their own defeat to the powerful Peninsula side, form will go out the window as both sides know a win will be enough.

The considerable might and power of Fergal Reel’s side was acutely highlighted by the fact that Paddy Keenan was able to sit out the match with Dreadnots and he was required for only a cameo appearance against Naomh Mairtin last time out.

Mighty Mochtas

In the Cullen Autoparts Intermediate Championship, St Mochtas have shown true championship aspirations in Group One.

The Louth Village men have swept through the group, easily seeing off the challenges of both Naomh Malachi and Roche Emmets.

Eamonn O’Neill and Louth player Declan Byrne have been on fire this year, posting large hauls in both outings thus far.

The Malachi’s and Roche will be searching for that all important victory when they clash at Pairc Clan Na Gael on Friday evening.

Ardee is the venue for the finale to Group Two on Sunday afternoon. With Sean O’Mahony’s assured of their place in the quarter finals thanks to a large victory over Na Piarsaigh, the attention shifts to St Fechins and Na Piarsaigh in Pairc Mhuire.

The Rock Road men will need a large slice of luck and a huge performance if they are to be successful in their pursuit of a quarter final place.

They must beat St Fechins be a massive margin to achieve that goal.

Rivals clash

It’s Dromiskin against Haggardstown for the final place in Group Three on Sunday.

The Geraldines managed to scramble a late draw against the Clans in Dowdallshill last time and Jim McEneaney and co. know a clear win over the Joes could see them top the table.

The 2006 Senior Champions were pipped at the post by a late Billy Smith point against the Clans in their first match this year and will certainly feel they can overcome the Gers.

The Brides have dominated the final group in this year’s intermediate championship.

Aaron Hoey has been in sparkling form so far, while Kevin Kirk has been immense in midfield for the Knockbridge team.

The remaining place in the quarter finals will go to either O’Connell’s or Naomh Fionnbarra. The O’Connell’s have been strong in the league this year and felt hard done by against the Brides in their first championship clash when a contentious Aaron Hoey point was awarded late on, which ultimately handed the Brides victory.

The men from Ballygassan, on the other hand, have struggled for scores since William Woods departed for Dundalk FC and were a pale shadow of a team against the Brides, succumbing on a scoreline of 1-13 to just 0-6.

John Dolan and Bernard Osbourne will need to raise their game to give the Finbarrs any hope of progressing.