Burren to edge out Town
Tuesday, 2 September 2014
Castlewellan v Burren.
IT'S the business end of the season with some mouth-watering Down Senior Championship matches in prospect. The action gets underway on Thursday evening at Pairc Esler when Burren take on Castlewellan (8.30pm throw-in), writes Tony Bagnall.
Last season the two sides met at the same stage of the competition with Burren winning 1-14 to 0-11. This year the Town manager John 'Shorty' Treanor, who spent his whole, and indeed illustrious, playing career with the St Mary's side, will be on the opposite side of the fence.
When the Democrat spoke to one of the finest club player of his generation after his team defeated Drumgath in the last of the round robin series, Shorty was a little disappointed at meeting his old club as he said: "It's unfortunate, as it's the second year in a row we've been drawn against Burren. They beat us last year but we were in the game until the last 20 minutes. Hopefully our young players will have come on since then."
No doubt Castlewellan will give Burren a game. Last year they were four points in front with 20 minutes gone but Paddy Carr's side finished strongly. Six points separated the sides at the finish. It might be a lot closer on Thursday but Burren, who reached the final last year, look to have a little more ammunition and have potential match-winners in Donal O'Hare, Shea McArdle and Eamon Toner.
On the other hand Castlewellan too have men, such as Aidan Burns and the returning Kevin Duffin, who are each capable of springing a shock.
Longstone v Saval
LONSTONE v Saval has the makings of a classy encounter. But the smart money would be on the Mourne men to do the business on Friday evening at Pairc Esler (throw-in: 8.30pm) especially after the way they set up their stall to defeat Burren in the last of the Senior Championship round robin fixtures.
Down skipper Mark Poland and big midfielder Ambrose Rogers will be huge pluses for PJ McGee's men and up front Ryan Kelly is scoring for fun.
Yet Saval who reached the Championship semi-final last year will be no push-over and expect Darren Quinn's side to work like Trojans to stay in the competition. Also expect big performances from Down strong man Niall Madine as well as Johnny Hughes, Pat Havern and of course the dynamic Daniel Hughes.
Bryansford v Mayobridge
ON Saturday the Senior action switches to Downpatrick (throw-in: 6pm) where Bryansford take on Mayobridge.
This should be the tightest tie of the quarter-finals and it's anybody's guess who will reach the last four.
Last year the Sky Blues reached the semi-finals with a two-point victory over Loughinisland at the same venue, then the teenage Cory Quinn was dominant with a personal tally of 2-2.
This year Cory only came on as a substitute in the Bridges' win over Rostrevor but still Michael Walsh's side are playing well with the iconic Benny Coulter on top of his game. Boss Walsh said after defeating the Mighty Reds: "In the quarter-finals, like all the other teams, we'll be aiming high and we'll be looking for big performances."
But Bryansford are nobody's fools and with the astute Frank Dawson at the helm they will be pushing hard for a spot in the last four. And remember the Ford topped their qualifying group. They have excellent players in Timmy Hanna, Danny Savage, Luke Howard and Conor Maginn.
PREDICTION: Bryansford to edge it.
Kilcoo v Clonduff
ON paper Champions Kilcoo should cruise into the semi-finals on Monday evening at Pairc Esler (throw-in: 8.30pm) and anyone watching them in the Round Robin qualifiers would no doubt agree. Jim McCorry has his lads jumping out of their respective skins and there are no faster or fitter players in the county than the Johnston boys, Jerome and Ryan plus Conor Laverty. But the Magpies are in all senses of the word a team with everyone chipping in with workrate, power and dedication.
Yet rivals Clonduff are not to be under-rated and the way they demolished Ballyholland at Burren in the Qualifiers bodes well for their chances against Kilcoo. And with experienced men such as Aidan Carr, Jason Brown and Arthur McConville in their side the Yellows will no doubt mount a considerable challenge to the super Magpies. Manager Keith Kelly, who bosses Clonduff along with Brendan Loughran is not in the least fearful as he told the Democrat when the draw came out: "We're looking forward to meeting them."
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