by Robert Cribbin
Joe Mallon Motors Renault
Senior Football Championship Preview
The Senior Football Championship kicks back into gear this weekend as with Confey and Johnstownbridge opening proceedings up with an intriguing clash in St.Conleth’s Park on Friday evening.
The Senior and Intermediate Championship has a completely new look to it this year, the sequence begins this weekend with eight first round games after which all sixteen teams will go into four groups of four with two winners and two losers from the opening round in each of those groups.
After which the teams that finish first and second will qualify for the knockout stages while the four bottom clubs have to fend off relegation.
Moorefield will be the team to beat and rightly so after they claimed their second Leinster Title at the end of 2017 with that thrilling victory over St. Lomans.
It can also be argued that their county title was every bit as impressive as its very rare that a team beats their three biggest rivals in consecutive rounds.
That’s exactly what Ross Glavin’s side achieved though by beating local rivals Sarsfields in the quarters, a fancied Athy in the Semis and beating Celbridge in the final with only 13 men for three quarters of the game.
Of the challengers, Sarsfields come next as Newbridge has had a monopoly over the Senior Title in recent years and they will love nothing more than to take down their crosstown rivals.
It will be interesting to see how they go under new management and the early signs are promising after winning the Aldridge Cup and like Moorefield last year the lack of any county player may play to their advantage.
Naas, Celbridge and Athy are three more teams who will have serious aspirations of landing the Dermot Bourke Cup with the latter two striving desperately to break the big two’s dominance and build on underage promise.
When you speak of underage promise though you cant look any further than Naas as the County Town are taking everything before them and while this year may be too soon to land the big prize they are definitely the coming team.
Others to come into consideration will be Carbury, Confey, Round Towers, Johnstownbridge and Clane who are all trying to build on fleeting visits to the last 8 and while they may not be good enough to take the overall crown they can definitely take a scalp.
The rest will all be just happy to stay up with the most interesting being Raheens who make their return to the Senior Grade for the first time since 2005.
Team to watch: Naas
Players to watch:
Cathal McCarron (Athy)
Brian McLoughlin (Clane)
Ciaran Doyle (Naas)
Pittman Traffic and Safety
Intermediate Football Championship Preview
For many years Raheens were the stand out team in the Intermediate Football Championship but like Johnstownbridge before them just couldn’t get over the line and with them now moving up to Senior it now means picking a winner in the Intermediate grade looks an impossible task again.
Kilcock were a team who grew throughout the Championship last year and rather aptly after their excellent showing in last year’s final they open this year’s action against Ballyteague and regardless of the result Friday night they will be expected to contend as they have the makings of a good young team coming together.
Kilcock are one of about twelve who can have realistic ambitions of winning the title as the Championship lives up to its name.
St. Kevin’s and Clogherinkoe are two of those teams and apart from Kilcock they pushed Raheens the closest last year and were both leading at different stages against them before going down to defeat so they will have high hopes.
Elsewhere Two Mile House will be looking to make up for a difficult 2017 and look to get back to the final where they agonisingly lost to Round Towers after a replay a year previously and with the talent at their disposal there is no reason they can’t.
After relegation Allenwood are back in the Intermediate for the first time in many a year and they will look to get back at the first time of asking to try avoid the fate of the likes of Raheens and Johnstownbridge.
Monasterevan, Suncroft, Rathangan and Ballyteague will look to build on a decent 2017 while of the rest Ballymore take the eye and could be a bolter as they won the junior with such ease that its impossible to see them not making an impact.
Team to watch: Ballymore
Players to watch:
Jack Robinson (Clogherinkoe)
Mark Durkan (Kilcock)
Niall Murphy (Ballymore)
Tom Cross Junior Football Championship Preview
The Junior grade on paper looks to have a real competitive look about it.
With all due respect many people predicted before a ball was kicked that Ballymore would take the title last year and that’s how things worked out even if they did get a huge scare against Rheban in the Semi-Final.
Rheban will be one of the teams who will look to take advantage of Ballymore’s absence and strike when the iron is hot and if they can repeat what they did last year they won’t be far away.
Caragh and Robertstown are two others who had good years in making the last four and Caragh were then subsequently well beaten in the final but the side has a good nucleus to it and if they can get Jake Corrigan in half the form he was last year they will have a chance.
Elsewhere Castlemitchell are back in the Junior grade after a miserable 2017 and its hard to see them making much of an impact but the likes of Milltown and Rathcoffey can’t be discounted as they have the ability to cause harm.
The Championship is rounded off with Grange, Ballykelly and Cappagh.
Team to watch: Milltown
Players to watch:
Ronan O’Shea (Milltown)
Danny Scully (Robertstown)
Jake Corrigan (Caragh)