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Louth GAA Football Championship previews 2009


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Dundalk Democrat UP FOR THE CUPS

Wednesday April 29 2009

Up for the Cups

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Senior Championship betting odds 2009 ST Patrick’s have been installed as Senior Championship favourites for the coming year by Dundalk based bookmakers, QuaySports. The Lordship outfit - Joe Ward winners in 2003, 2004 and 2007 - are priced at 11/4, just ahead of holders Newtown Blues, who have odds of 3/1. Ironically, QuaySports manager Barry O’Brien has declared his own club Sean O’Mahony’s as the major outsiders for the Joe Ward at a price of 20/1 The full list of odds available at QuaySports for the Senior Championship are as follows: ❑ St Patrick’s 11/4 ❑ Newtown Blues 3/1 ❑ Mattock Rangers 9/2 ❑ Cooley Kickhams 11/2 ❑ St Brides 7/1 ❑ Dundalk Gaels 9/1 ❑ Glyde Rangers 12/1 ❑ Naomh Mairtin 12/1 ❑ Dreadnots 14/1 ❑ St Mary’s 14/1 ❑ Kilkerley Emmets 16/1 ❑ Sean O’Mahony’s 20/1 Bets are available from QuaySports Bookmakers, Quay Street, Dundalk, Co Louth. Further details and other bets available from QuaySports at 042-9354321.

The Newtown Blues celebrate their 19th Louth Senior Championship success after beating Mattock Rangers last year

Blues and Pat’s final would be the perfect way to end the decade Demo verdicts

By James Rogers AS we enter the last year of the decade, it's important to note that both the Newtown Blues and St Patrick's have won three Joe Ward Cups since the Millennium. The Blues have lifted the senior championship title in 2000, 2001 and last year while the Pat's have clinched County Final glory in 2003, 2004 and 2007. Both have won three titles, both have won back-to-back titles and both have lost finals – the Blues to Mattock Rangers in 2005 and the Pat's to St Joseph's a year later. So, with all that in mind, there is an added sub-plot to this year's proceedings as if either of them go on to lift Joe Ward they can finish off the decade with the proud accolade of Team of the Decade – a title Stabannon Parnells enjoyed in the 'Nineties, the Blues claimed in the 'Sixties and 'Eighties and Cooley commanded in the 'Seventies. There's little doubt that at different spells over the past 10 years, the Blues and Pat's have invariably been the team to beat. In fact, their dominance of Louth football has been so great over the past decade that 2002 was the only year neither of them was in the County Final with Mattock Rangers getting the better of St Brides on that occasion. What makes this great rivalry between the two clubs all the more intriguing, however, is that they have yet to meet in a final themselves. In fact, championships clashes of any description between the two in recent years have been few and far between. With that in mind, it would be the perfect way to polish off the decade from a neutral's perspective were

GROUP A 1 Newtown Blues 2 Cooley Kickhams 3 Mattock Rangers 4 Glyde Rangers 5 St Brides 6 Naomh Mairtin GROUP B 1 St Patrick’s 2 Dundalk Gaels 3 Kilkerley Emmets 4 Sean O’Mahony’s 5 Dreadnots 6 St Mary’s

St Patrick’s Paddy Keenan the two to go head to head in this year's County Final. It'd be the chance to see the likes of Paddy Keenan up against Keith Lynch, Colin Goss against Ian McManus, Dessie Finnegan against Colm Judge, Ray Finnegan against Hugh McGinn, Sean Connor against Cormac Reynolds and Eamon Carroll against Ray Hughes. It certainly whets the appetite doesn't it? Of course, there'll be a few teams who won't be quite in favour of a Pat's v Blues final. The Lordship men should have no problem making it out of what is undoubtedly the weaker of the two groups while the Blues should have what it takes to come through the Group of Death also. The side who perhaps will fancy having the biggest say in ending the duo's dominance of Louth football is Mattock Rangers who, of course, can go level on three senior titles with the pair if they can repeat their successes of 2002 and 2005. They're another side who have the

Tip for the title: Newtown Blues potential to go all the way but, like most sides in Group A, the main concentration at present will be on escaping from a real group of death. Like the Blues, the Collon men should have what it takes to come through that section but it's anyones guess who will take the next spot. Cooley Kickhams – entering their 19th year without a senior title – will fancy their chances but they're yet to fire on all cylinders this season and could be haunted by the same old problems that have dogged them in recent years, namely lacking the firepower to really trouble the top sides. St Brides also have an enviable championship record but a lot could depend on how Aaron Hoey performs for them as he has been in and out of the Louth team this season and played very little football. One side who will be looking to benefit from any weaknesses in the Cooley or Brides armoury are Glyde Rangers, who made a fine breakthrough last year by ending

Newtown Blues’ Keith Lynch year's of championship disappointing by reaching the last four. On their day they'll give anyone a decent game and the return of Trevor O'Brien from injury is a major plus for them. Finally, in Group A are Naomh Mairtin who will feel like the unluckiest team in the county having been paired in a group that contains last year's four semifinalists and the three in-a-row league winners. With JP Rooney and Mark McCormack back on board they've improved on last year but perhaps the best they can realistically hope for would be avoiding a relegation play-off considering the tough company they find themselves paired with. In the other section, the five other clubs joining the Pat's will all be privately rubbing their hands in glee at their pairing as each of them will feel they can push for a place in the latter stages. One side who should particularly

fancy their chances is the Dundalk Gaels who, as well as consolidating their position after promotion last season, also reached the league semi-finals. Another side who could finally make a breakthrough are the Sean O'Mahonys. Despite some good league displays in recent years they've yet to really motor in the championship and have only hung onto their status as a result of backto-back play-off wins in each of the last two seasons. The Dreadnots are something of an unknown quantity at this level after coming up from the intermediate grade but on their day they could pull off a few surprises and will particularly look forward to meeting the Gaels after they denied them the Seamus Flood Cup 12 months prior to last October's success. Realistically, they'll be happy with simply consolidating their position this year though. Kilkerley Emmets are another side who could also make a breakthrough. Once again a lot depends on how their inter-county star Shane Lennon performs but they have been boosted by the influx of a talented couple of youngsters in the past while and they are sure to give them another option. St Mary's, however, could be the ones to struggle. They've lost a whole host of players in recent years and an attempt to get Darren Clarke to return from St Sylvester's has recently failed. They're very thin at the ground and, by their own admission, the height of their ambition at present is simply to avoid relegation. There's certainly some intriguing matches ahead in both sections. Let the games begin! james@dundalkdemocrat.ie


Wednesday April 29 2009

Dundalk Democrat UP FOR THE CUPS

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Intermediate Championship betting odds 2009 THREE teams have been made joint favourites for this year’s Intermediate Championship, which gets underway at the weekend. The O’Connells, St Joseph’s and last year’s beaten finalists Na Piarsaigh are all quoted at prices of 4/1 with the side relegated from the senior grade last season - Naomh Malachi not far behind at a price of 5/1. The full list of odds available at QuaySports for the Senior Championship are as follows: ❑ O’Connells 4/1 ❑ Na Piarsaigh 4/1 ❑ St Joseph’s 4/1 ❑ Naomh Malachi 5/1 ❑ Oliver Plunketts 6/1 ❑ O Raghallaigh’s 8/1 ❑ Clan na Gael 10/1 ❑ Roche Emmets 12/1 ❑ Geraldines 14/1 ❑ St Nicholas 16/1 ❑ Dundalk YI 20/1 ❑ Hunterstown Rovers 20/1

Sides will be queuing up in the Intermediate grade to try and repeat the Dreadnots’ success of last season

Bets are available from QuaySports Bookmakers, Quay Street, Dundalk, Co Louth. Further details and other bets available from QuaySports at 042-9354321.

A derby final not beyond possibility in the intermediate championship By James Rogers

THE intermediate championship is always the most difficult of the three grades to call and this year should be no different. There's no point in sitting on the fence though and, with that in mind, I'm predicting that this year's final will be a crunch derby match between the O'Connells and St Joseph's. The villages of Castlebellingham and Dromiskin are not a great deal apart with many players and supporters from both camps living in what could only be deemed 'foreign territory' if such a final came to fruition. They're two of the msot in-form sides going into their group matches, however, and while that will count for nothing come the end of the year there's a real feeling that both of them has what it takes to last the distance this season. Despite just avoiding a relegation play-off on score difference last season, the O'Connells have come on in leaps and bounds since then. As well as the experience of the likes of Stuart Reynolds, Colm Kearney, Paul McKeever and Jason Carroll, they boast some of the best youngsters in the county such as Niall Conlon, Dean Stanfield, Colm Byrne and Salem Rifaie. These players have all matured in recent months and the club has pulled off two masterstrokes in landing Kevin McGeough and John Flanagan during the winter. Flanagan, in particular, has proven a major acquisition because, as well as his talents on the field, the former Dundalk FC and Drogheda Utd star is also having a major impact on training. Their biggest rivals for the title could yet turn out to be near neighbours St Joseph's, who have

made a fantastic start to life under Pat Mulligan. Despite still being in transition at present, the Cluskey Park outfit can still rely on some much-needed experience in their side at present with double championship winners David Reilly, Ollie McDonnell and David O'Donoghue complementing talented youngsters such as Alan McKenna, Daragh Smyth, Derek Mulligan and Anthony Keenan. The Joe's are going into the championship on a fantastic run of form in the senior league and if they can keep that going then they'll be tough to stop at an intermediate grade this year. Perhaps the biggest challengers to a Mid-Louth final would be last year's beaten finalists Na Piarsaigh and Naomh Malachi, who will be looking for an instant return to the senior grade after relegation last season. Na Piarsaigh have been knocking on the door of senior for a number of years now, reaching the semi-final two years ago before going down narrowly to the Dreadnots in last year's final. In that time they've also finished as runners-up in their league twice. They've not had the best start to the year in terms of injuries though and the fact they face an in-form O'Connells first could leave them on the backfoot from an early stage. If they can make it through the group as expected though, then they certainly have the players to trouble anyone at this level. Whether the appetite is there or not after last year's final heartbreak remains to be seen. Naomh Malachi are a side certainly capable of going all the way if they get a good run of form together. Having lost the intermediate final of 2005 to the Geraldines, they returned to win it against the O'Connells 12 months later and followed it up with a hugely

Demo verdicts

GROUP A 1 St Joseph’s 2 Naomh Malachi 3 Oliver Plunketts 4 O Raghallaigh’s 5 Clan na Gael 6 Dundalk Young Irelands GROUP B 1 O’Connells 2 Na Piarsaigh 3 Roche Emmets 4 Geraldines 5 Hunterstown Rovers 6 St Nicholas Tip for the title: O’Connells

Former Dundalk FC defender John Flanagan is a massive addition to the O’Connells this season successful first year in the senior grade – taking Cooley Kickhams to a replay in the Cardinal O'Donnell Cup final and reaching the championship quarter-finals. Last year was a major setback for the border outfit but if they can get the likes of Ronan Greene, Kevin Rogers, Ruairi Daly and Feidhlim Daly playing on form then they'll be a tough prospect to stop as they have good quality in virtually every area

of the field. Group A is arguably the harder of the two groups and the Joe's and Naomh Malachi's biggest threats are likely to come from the Drogheda pairing of the Oliver Plunketts and the O Raghallaigh's, who both made it to last season's semi-finals. The O Raghallaigh's, in fact, have made it to the last four finals and lost them all which begs the question whether they have the bottle to go all the way. On their day they're a match for anybody but consistency often lets them down. In contrast, the Plunketts seem to be heading in a forward direction and the introduction of some good youngsters to the ranks makes them a real dark horse for a championship challenge. They're ones who cannot be ruled out either. Unfortunately for the north of the county, Dundalk sides Clan na Gael and Dundalk Young Irelands are unlikely to pose much of a threat. The Clans are still undergoing a transitional phase at present and have made the worst possible preparation to the championship with three league defeats in-a-row. The Irelands are arguably further on in terms of development but with a young side they could well have to wait a while before making a real impact at this level. For now, at least, the league is likely to remain their top priority. Group B contains two of the favourites, Na Piarsaigh and the O'Connells, with those two likely to battle it out for top spot. That leaves the third spot very much up for grabs and perhaps the most likely to secure it is Roche Emmets. The Faughart men are another side who often suffer from a lack of consistency but they're also probably the best value bet for anyone who fancies a flutter at a price of 12/1. Noel Litchfield's side showed last season on their run to the Sheelan

Cup final that they have what it takes to beat the very best on their day. In order to do so though they'll need better luck with injuries than they've had in the past as well as better consistency to follow up one good result with another. If anyone is likely to trouble that trio it could well be the Geraldines. The Blackrock and Haggardstown outfit have some of the top young talent in the county after claiming back-to-back minor titles and while they could be dark horses for a run into the latter stages, it might be expecting a bit too much of the young side to genuinely challenge for senior honours just yet, particularly considering some of the players they are missing going into the opening rounds such as Jim McEneaney, John Neary and Shane Thornton. Hunterstown Rovers are undoubtedly a team in transition after their relegation to Division Three in the league last season. Jim Clifford's side are likely to put most of their concentration into the league this season and while they have undoubted quality in their ranks in the like of Padraig Matthews and Paul Carrie, where they could fall down against the better sides is their lack of height. Realistically, the best the newlypromoted Nicks can hope for is survival. They were surprise winners of the Junior grade last season and struggled when they made the step up in class in the Sheelan Cup. I'd expect them to struggle again, particularly considering the fact that they'll be without the experience of the Carter brothers – Aiden, Johnny and Brian - in the early rounds. Ironically, with the way the fixtures panned out, we could know a lot after round one about where exactly each team is likely to finish in this section.


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Dundalk Democrat UP FOR THE CUP

Wednesday April 29 2009

Senior Championship Group A

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Newtown Blues Managers: Eugene Judge and Richie Culhane. Last season: Champions. Key Player: Hugh McGinn. One to Watch: Cormac Reynolds. Last SFC title: 2008. Hopes: Despite a tough group, the Blues remain the team to beat.

Cooley Kickhams Manager: Peadar Gallagher. Last season: Quarter-finals. Key Player: Brian White. One to Watch: Patrick Sheelan. Last SFC title: 1990. Hopes: Always in contention but will have to come through a tough group before thinking of the title.

Mattock Rangers Manager: Kit Henry. Last season: Runners-up. Key Player: David Reid. One to Watch: Mike Englishby. Last SFC title: 2005. Hopes: The aim is to go one better than last year and if they hit form then they’ll take some stopping.

Glyde Rangers Manager: Mickey McConville. Last season: Semi-finals. Key Player: David Devaney. One to Watch: Dean Matthews. Last SFC title: 1934. Hopes: After making an overdue breakthrough last year they’ll do well to repeat it in a tough group.

St Brides Manager: Sean Woods. Last season: Semi-finals. Key Player: Aaron Hoey. One to Watch: Mark Hoey. Last SFC title: 1943. Hopes: Have a great record of upsetting the odds and they’ll have to continue that this season.

Naomh Mairtin Manager: Nicky Malone. Last season: Group stages. Key Player: JP Rooney. One to Watch: Brian Berrill. Last SFC title: Never won. Hopes: After a poor campaign last year would be happy to avoid a relegation play off in this group.

Group A fixtures Friday May 1 Pairc Mhuire, Ardee - 7.30pm Glyde Rangers v Mattock Rangers, P Kneel Saturday May 2 Gaelic Grounds, Drogheda- 7.30pm Newtown Blues v Naomh Mairtin, G Connor. Sunday May 3 Clan na Gael Park, Dundalk - 2pm St Brides v Cooley Kickhams, D Murtagh. Round Two Thursday May 21 Gaelic Grounds, Drogheda - 7.30pm Mattock Rangers v Naomh Mairtin, T Dolan. Friday May 22 The Grove, Castlebellingham - 7.30pm Newtown Blues v St Brides, G Malone. Sunday May 24 St Brigid’s Park, Dowdallshill - 7.30pm Cooley Kickhams v Glyde Rangers, T McEnteggart. Round Three Naomh Mairtin v St Brides, Glyde Rangers v Newtown Blues. Mattock Rangers v Cooley Kickhams. Round Four St Brides v Glyde Rangers. Newtown Blues v Mattock Rangers. Naomh Mairtin v Cooley Kickhams. Round Five Glyde Rangers v Naomh Mairtin. St Brides v Mattock Rangers. Cooley Kickhams v Newtown Blues.

LEFT: Eugene Judge (left) on the sideline with joint manager Richie Culhane and RIGHT: Ray Hughes lifts last year’s Joe Ward Cup after receiving it from sponsor Jimmy Cumiskey of European Mortgages and County Board chairman Paddy Oliver after their victory over Mattock Rangers in Drogheda

Boss believes Blues can be Judged as a great side by retaining title

the way we see it as we've always found it difficult against them. Reputations “IT takes a good team to go out the window when win a championship, it you're playing your takes a very good team to neighbours. win two in-a-row.” “Our sole ambition at the That's the message that minute is to win that first Newtown Blues manager game and then build on it Eugene Judge will tell his but I think we'll definitely side as he sends them out face a tougher test this to start the defence of their time around. When you're title against Naomh the champions everyone Mairtin at the weekend. wants to beat you that bit Unsurprisingly after more so everyone will want their success of last season, to take us down a peg or the Newfoundwell outfit two this season. start the campaign as “When you've won a lot favourites to retain the Joe of championships like we Ward. have then people think However, former Louth they're going somewhere if selector Judge insists that they take our scalp and I he is simply concentrating suppose, in a way, that's a on one game at a time and compliment for us. insisted it was important “We're in a very difficult that his side got off to a group this season and winning start against local every team in our section rivals Naomh Mairtin in will find it very hard to go their opener. through it and not lose at “Getting a win in the first some stage. I think game is always important considering the section because if you lose it then we're in, it's important to you're immediately on the make a good start because back foot,” he said. if you don't then you'll be “People might assume immediately under that the Mairtins will be pressure.” easy pickings but that's not The Blues' championship

By James Rogers

“ When you’re the champions everyone wants to beat you that bit more so everyone will want to take us down a peg or two this season.”

added to what we had from last season. “Apart from him we'll also be without Aiden O'Brien until the end of June but on a more positive note we have Colm (Judge), Jimmy Murray and Ian McManus all coming back from injuries so they're three massive players to be able to call upon again,” he said. Judge said his side would be treating each EUGENE JUDGE game as a knock-out in this NEWTOWN BLUES BOSS year's group stages and hopes suffered a huge said he was pleased with setback recently when his side's form going into recent recruit from St the championship. “We always approach the Fechin's, Andy McDonnell, suffered a broken leg in a group stages like as if it a knock-out league match with group was rivals Cooley Kickhams. competition. Okay, the The former Louth minor group does allow for one or star had been the club's two falls but we see leading scorer on their run winning as a habit and if to the Sheelan Cup final you start losing then that is and Judge said his absence when doubts can start to creep in. was a definite blow. “I feel like we're in good “It was a great pity what happened Andy because he enough shape going into it was fitting in so well. The this year but then again style we play really suits you never know where him and it's unfortunate for you're at until you go out us that we'll be without there on the field. “The opening game will him because I felt he really

be very difficult against the Mairtins. JP Rooney is one of the cleverest players around and Mick Fanning has been doing very well for Louth. There's also the likes of Nicky McDonnell and a few more that will take watching and I don't think they'll be easily beaten.” However, with the Blues aiming for a 20th Senior Championship title this season, Judge insists he would love to win it in honour of Louth kitman and lifelong Blues fan Charlie McAlester, who has been in ill health of late. “We all wish Charlie well at the club and it'd be nice to win the 20th title for him this year. “He's a long time with the Blues and, not many people know this, but he actually won a Cardinal O”Donnell medal with the club in the 1960s. “I remember him being at the club since I was a boy and I think the Blues have been good for him and he has been good for the Blues over the years. We all wish him well,” said Judge.

Martin has no problem with Mairtin’s underdog tag By James Rogers

AFTER being drawn in the group of death alongside last year's four semi-finalists and the Cardinal O'Donnell Cup holders, Naomh Mairtin are well aware that they are being written off by many before a ball has even been kicked in this year's championship. That suits them just fine though. With championship heavyweights such as Newtown Blues, St Brides, Mattock Rangers, Glyde Rangers and Cooley Kickhams all vying for a coveted place in the latter stages of the competition many feel that the best Naomh Mairtin can hope for is to avoid a relegation battle. The Monasterboice men know that they're being looked upon as also rans rather than dark horses but selector Eddie Martin insists that suits them just fine as Nicky

Malone's men attempt to upset the odds in Group A. “You probably couldn't have picked a more difficult group if you tried,” said Martin. “We have to deal with what we've got though and at the moment we're just looking towards the Blues in the first game. “You probably couldn't have got a tougher start than a match against the county champions in the County Grounds but I'd argue that you couldn't get a better start either as there should be no reason why everyone shouldn't be geared up for a game like that. We know we'll be the underdogs but that suits us just fine as we're quite happy to try and upset the odds.” Although last season was hardly a memorable one for the Monasterboice men, the 39-yearold insisted that they are a lot stronger than most people think going into this campaign.

“We have JP Rooney and Mark McCormack back this season and they'll make a massive difference to us because they have the ability to get match-winning tallies on their own. “We have a few injury concerns too and Francis McCullough is struggling with a hamstring problem at the moment but in the championship it's all about what happens on the night. “We know things didn't go too great last season but we were rebuilding last year. We know from previous years though what we can achieve. We've ran the Blues close a few times before and even took them to a replay in 2006 so hopefully, with a bit of luck, we might catch them on the hop this time around. “Early points are going to be the most important thing as you don't want to be under pressure straight away. If we could get a win or a

draw from the opening game then we'd be happy. We know many people have written us off slightly but that can work both ways too as because we're in a tougher group we won't be going into any of our games with a complacent attitude. “We're actually really looking forward to the opening game at the moment. It's a local derby and everyone is buzzing just thinking about it. “We're a lot stronger going into this season than we have been for the last two seasons and, as a selector, we have the great problem at the moment of people fighting for places. “We have James Howell back with us after winning a Towns' Cup medal for Boyne in the rugby and we have Brian Berrill back from the minor setup too. “The most important thing for us to remember is that no team in the county is unbeatable,” said Martin.


Wednesday April 29 2009

Dundalk Democrat UP FOR THE CUPS

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Reid feels those who make it out of group will be tough to stop By James Rogers

CONSIDERING how tough Group A is likely to be in the Senior Championship, Mattock Rangers vice captain David Reid feels that whoever comes through it will be well placed to challenge for this year's Joe Ward. With last year's four semifinalists – Newtown Blues, Mattock Rangers, Glyde Rangers and St Brides - all paired together along with league champions Cooley Kickhams and Naomh Mairtin, all six teams in the group of death face a real battle to come through it. However, for the lucky three that do, Reid feels they will take some stopping in the latter stages of the competition as confidence is likely to go through the roof at that stage. “It's a fierce competitive group,” said Reid. “There's the four semi-finalists from last year, Cooley, who are always one of the favourites and Monasterboice who are a decent side as well. “Whoever makes it out of that section will definitely be in good

Mattock Rangers forward David Reid

Best wishes to Mattock Rangers in the forthcoming Championship from

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order to challenge for the title after that.” First up for Mattock, however, is a tough clash against Glyde Rangers, the side they eliminated in last year's semi-finals. Reid expects his side to have to be at their best at the weekend to repeat that win though. “We've met Glyde a lot over the last couple of years so we know plenty about them. We always seem to get them in the group stages and they are always tight games. “We actually drew with them in the group stages last year and we were lucky to beat them in the semi-finals. “I actually reckon they'll be stronger this year as well. They did seriously well last year without Trevor O'Brien and now that he's back from injury, he'll only improve them.” The Louth forward insisted it was Mattock's aim to go one better than last year when they lost out to the Newtown Blues in the final but he insists the Paddy Sheelan Cup finalists would be mainly

St Brides to hold club draw and table quiz this weekend By James Rogers

AS well as making their first championship apperance of the season this weekend with a crunch clash against Cooley Kickhams, St Brides are also planning to hold a table quiz and club draw. The quiz and lucky dip draw will be held on Sunday May 3 in the Crowne Plaza Hotel and the Knockbridge outfit will surely be hoping that they are celebrating on the night as they look to get their campaign off to a winning start when they go head to head with the peninsula outfit at Clan na Gael Park earlier that day. The table quiz will get underway on Sunday at 8pm with appetisers set to be served throughout the night for all in attendance. Winners of the lucky dip draw will also be announced on the night with tickets still available from Brodigans Stores, MacNamees and Gerrys Chipper in Knockbridge or from any committee member of the club.

Among the prizes up for grabs on the night are a top prize of p2,000, a second prize of a p750 holiday voucher and a third prize of p500 in cash. Other prizes up for grabs on the night include a p250 hotel voucher, six months sponsored membership to Felda gym on the Dublin Road and four ball golf outings to both Dundalk Golf Club in Blackrock and Mannan Castle Golf Club, outside Carrickmacross

in Co Monaghan. Tickets for the quiz night are still available with a table of four priced at p40. For further details or booking please contact Pierce Murphy at 0862361785, Sean Paul McNally at 086-3428393 or any member of the St Brides GFC committee. Alternatively, further information on the night and all other club news is available on the St Brides GFC website at http://stbrides.louth.gaa .ie/

Continued Best wishes from

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concentrating on simply making it out of the group before dreaming of landing Joe Ward for a third time this decade. “There's a lot of football to be played before we can talk about winning a championship. With the group we're in, you can't take your eyes off any game so we're simply concentrating on the game with Glyde at the moment. “It'll be a great benefit to anyone who can get a win early on but I'm sure all the clubs will be thinking like that, particularly in our section.“The group is going to be fierce competitive. There's a bundle of talent in the group and I'd be very surprised if three came through it outright. “I suppose our form has been a bit indifferent so far this season but we've probably yet to have a full group of players together either. “We'll give it our best shot this year though like every other year and hopefully it'll prove good enough,” said Reid, who is vice captain to Mark Brennan this season.

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Wednesday April 29 2009

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Mackin predicts plenty of slip-ups in group of death

David expects sides to take points off each other By James Rogers

St Brides defender David Mackin

Wishing St.Brides GAA success in the forthcoming Championship from all at

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ST Brides defender David Mackin reckons no one in the group of death will come through the campaign undefeated but he is still hoping his side can get off to a winning start when they take on Cooley Kickhams in Clan na Gael Park on Sunday. Despite the fact the Knockbridge men haven't won a senior championship in over half a century and have yet to reach a final since 2002, they have an enviable championship record of reaching the latter stages of the competition and have been in the last four for each of the past two campaigns. However, Mackin admits that St Brides face their biggest test yet this season to keep that impressive streak going having been paired in the same section as last year's finalists Newtown Blues and Mattock Rangers, semi-finalists Glyde Rangers, league champions Cooley Kickhams and Naomh Mairtin. “We've a fairly good record of reaching the latter stages but that's definitely going to be tested this year,” admitted Mackin. “It's going to be tough for anyone to get out of that group as, including ourselves, we have the

top four from last year, the Mairtins are no pushovers and Cooley are always there or thereabouts. “All we can do is take each game as it comes. There's no doubt every game will be hard but we'd hope that after maybe three games we'd be well placed and that we can build on that then. “Everyone in this group will simply be looking to get out of it and only then will they be thinking about going all the way. If you started being complacent in this section then you'd be talking about a relegation battle very quickly. “I think every team will take points off each other and I'd be very surprised if anyone went through the section with a 100% record. You definitely need a bit of luck on your side though when you're in a section like ours,” said Mackin. The former Louth panellist insisted his side faced a stern test in their opening match against Cooley but remained confident his side could prosper come Sunday. “Cooley always have a very good defence which means they're tough to score against. As well as that, I think Brian White will be a huge addition to them this year around the middle of the field because he has been playing very

Nulty hopeful of further Glyde progress By James Rogers AFTER years of failing to fulfil their potential in the senior grade, Glyde Rangers finally made a long awaited breakthrough last season by reaching the last four. If they're to build on the promise of last season then goalkeeper Anthony Nulty insists they must at least reach the latter stages again. Easier said than done, of course, considering they've been drawn in the undoubted group of death.Nevertheless the talented shotstopper insists that his side will be fearing no one this season after their superb progress last season which also seen them lift the Division Two title. “We're undoubtedly in the group of death,” said Nulty. “There's the three big teams in there then ourselves St Brides and Naomh Mairtin and it'll probably be up to one of us three to aim for that third spot and try and upset one of the big guns. “We're ready for it though and we're determined to give it a good shot again. “I think a good start could be crucial in this group but we've Collon in the first game and they're a team we simply can't seem to get over. We always seem to be drawn with them and they've beaten us now for the last couple of years and put us out in the semi-final last year but it has to happen sometime for us and there'd be no better time than this weekend. “The quarters is what we're aiming for at the very least and if we can get there then hopefully we can go beyond that. “We know we're in a tough section but we have good confidence in our ability and we know no one will beat us handy.

well for the county. “They also have a couple of young lads doing very well for them at the moment but I think we do too. Shane Devin is just back from playing with the Louth minors and we have another one or two lads coming through as well which is a good sign because we probably haven't had that as much in the last few years. “We're confident we can do well on Sunday though. On our day we can play some really good football but we simply have to take things one game at a time so we're not looking beyond Cooley at the minute.” Of course, Mackin remains optimistic that the return of Sean Woods to the club could have a galvanising effect on the team. Woods famously brought St Brides of the 2002 final where they were unlucky to go down to Mattock Rangers in the decider despite a wonder show from Aaron Hoey. “Sean is back with us this season and that can only be a good thing for us. He's a very good manager and he definitely knows his stuff. “If he can bring us back to the final and maybe even take us one better than last time then Knockbridge will be a very happy place,” said Mackin.

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Playschool Session - Terrible Two's Club - Afterschool Care - Full Day Care All above services run Mon to Fri all year round Glyde goalkeeper Anthony Nulty “We also have Trevor O'Brien back from injury this season and that's a great boost for us. He's not fully back to himself yet but he's getting there.” Glyde's biggest result of last season occurred at the quarter-final stages when they knocked Cooley Kickhams out in Dowdallshill. Nulty admitted, however, that that result went to their heads slightly and he is adamant that if they take another big scalp this season then his side will be a lot more grounded. “I think when we beat Cooley last year it went to our heads too much. We had a chance to beat Mattock in the semi-final after that but we just weren't right on the day. “I've no doubt Cooley will be out to get us back for knocking them out last season but we're not afraid of anyone. “I really believe that any team can beat anyone in that group and don't be surprised if the top three isn't decided until the final round of matches. “Luck has a lot to do with it too. The Blues are the best team in the county for me and I've no doubt that they'll come through the group somewhere whether that be first, second or third and it'll be a case of two from the other five after that. Hopefully we're one of those,” said Nulty.

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Wednesday April 29 2009

Dundalk Democrat UP FOR THE CUPS

Up for the Cups

Cooley’s bid to end wait for Joe Ward hurt by missing county stars By James Rogers

Cooley Kickhams manager Peadar Gallagher

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PEADAR Gallagher has bemoaned the amount of time he has had to work with his intercounty players as he becomes the latest manager to try and end Cooley's 19 year wait without a Joe Ward this season. The former Naomh Malachi boss claims to have only seen ace marksman Brian White once this season whil the likes of Richard Brennan, Conor McGuinness and Conor Rafferty have also been away with the county at various stages. And the former St Mary's College schoolteacher insisted that that was hardly the ideal preparation for going into such a tough championship group. “It's definitely the group of death,” said Gallagher. “The way we're looking at it, each game is a knock-out because if you lose one match early on then you're under immediate pressure to qualify. “At the moment for us, it's all about making it out of the group. That's how tight and competitive it's going to be. “The Louth situation is creating fierce problems for clubs though. I felt we should have had the intercounty players for the last few weeks since they finished up the National League but they've still been away playing challenge matches. I've only seen Brian White once this year and when he came off injured against Fermanagh in a challenge match the other day I had to hear it from other people. “One or two of our players on the panel are fringe players who have played no football at all really in terms of

“It’s all about making it out of the group”

PEADAR GALLAGHER COOLEY KICKHAMS BOSS playing time. Surely they should be allowed come back to their clubs and get a fair crack at the whip. “Richard Brennan, for instance, hasn't even been on the bench this year so would he not be better playing with us and getting a bit of form going. “I'm not trying to use this an excuse before we even play in the championship but the problem is that there isn't any give or take at the minute. There's no interaction between the county manager and the club managers. “I'm not saying I don't want the county to do well either. There's no one more than me who would want to see Louth doing well and playing in a Leinster final.” The county issue aside, Gallagher admitted that he must bring Joe Ward back to Fr McEvoy Park this year if he is to be considered a success.

“The Blues are the team to beat this year and it definitely helps them that they only have a couple of players on the county panel. Expectations out here are very high and we could be doing with our county men on a more regular basis to try and meet those. “I know I'll be judged on whether we win the championship or not. Losing a semi-final or even a final is no good for Cooley Kickhams. It's 19 years since we won it and there's a lot of frustration about that. “I'm realistic enough though. I know we have a lot to do to try and win it but we're going to keep trying. “I think there will be shocks in our group and the teams that lose their first game will be under severe pressure to try and make the latter stages. We play the Blues last and I know I wouldn't like to be going into that game looking for a win to qualify. “We're going to give it a good shot this year as always but for the time being qualifying out of the group is all we're looking at,” said Gallagher.

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8

Dundalk Democrat UP FOR THE CUPS

Senior Championship Group B Dreadnots Manager: Paddy Clarke, Pat Smith. Last season: Intermediate winners. Key Player: Paraic Smith. One to Watch: Pat Lynch. Last SFC title: Never won. Hopes: Staying up must be a priority but with a bit of luck could advance from the group.

Dundalk Gaels Manager: JP O’Kane. Last season: Group stages. Key Player: Derek Crilly One to Watch: Eanna McArdle. Last SFC title: 1952. Hopes: Will be hoping to build on consolidation last year but need to hit the ground running.

Sean O’Mahony’s Manager: Barry O’Brien. Last season: Relegation play-off. Key Player: John O’Brien. One to Watch: Niall McLoughlin. Last SFC title: Never won. Hopes: Have struggled in recent years but will be hopeful of progression this season.

St Mary’s Manager: Mattie McCabe. Last season: Group stages. Key Player: Ronan Carroll. One to Watch: Alan Kirk. Last SFC title: 1995. Hopes: After a difficult few years, the Ardee outfit will probably be happy to avoid relegation.

St Patrick’s Manager: John ‘Shorty’ Treanor. Last season: Quarter-finals. Key Player: Paddy Keenan. One to Watch: Evan White. Last SFC title: 2007. Hopes: Want to end the decade as champions and their draw suggests they won’t be far away.

Kilkerley Emmets

Wednesday April 29 2009

Up for the Cups

Barnie hoping St Mary’s can Carrie on in senior grade Consolidation is top priority for Ardee men this season By James Rogers AFTER a difficult few years of losing players to a combination of transfers and retirements and suffering relegation from Division One of the league last season, St Mary's selector Barnie Carrie insists he would be happy to see his side retain their place in the senior grade this season. As they go through a period of transition, consolidation is the name of the game for the Ardee men at present with their main ambition simply to avoid the drop back to the intermediate grade. “We're still in a process of rebuilding the team,” admitted Carrie when asked about his side's ambitions. “It's been tough with some of the injuries we've had. We got a new signing in from Drumcondra called Wayne Reilly but he has a cruciate ligament injury and our Player of the Year Anthony McDonald is also out injured at the minute.

“Considering how many players we've lost in the last few years our main objective is to keep our status and anything after that would be a bonus. We have no big objectives to reach the final stages but it would be great if we got there. “We have some good youngsters coming through the ranks at the moment and we simply want to be still playing senior football by the time they make the step up. “We will be introducing the likes of Paudi Clarke into the senior team soon enough and we hope that the likes of him can make the step up. “We've Kilkerley in the last game and we probably owe them one for pipping us in staying up in the league last year. We'll be confident enough of getting a result against them though because we beat them in the league last year. “Having said that we're not going to get carried away with ourselves. There's plenty of teams who will fancy their

St Mary’s selector Barnie Carrie chances of coming out of our group but we're not talking up our prospects after last year. “Last year we went into

the championship with a great sense of optimism after three good wins in the laegue but then the Blues demolished us in the

first game of the championship and I don't think we ever recovered from that,” admitted Carrie.

Clarke enjoying role with Dreadnots

Manager: Martin McQuillan. Last season: Group stages. Key Player: Shane Lennon. One to Watch: Cathal Bellew. By James Rogers Last SFC title: Never won. Hopes: Struggled last year but will THE last time Paddy Clarke took charge of a be encouraged by their group draw and with luck could advance. team in a black and red strip he delivered

them Joe Ward. This time, however, he'd be happy to see them stay up. The former Louth boss helped Mattock Sunday May 3 Rangers to their last senior title in 2005 but Clan na Gael Park, Dundalk - 3.15pm having taken charge of newly-promoted Dundalk Gaels v St Patrick’s, P Connolly. Dreadnots at the start of the year alongside Pairc Ui Mhuire, Dunleer - 3.15pm Pat Smith, the Drogheda man insists Sean O’Mahony’s v Dreadnots, T Byrne. consolidation is top priority this season. St Brigid’s Park, Dowdallshill - 7.30pm Clarke might have an enviable CV that Kilkerley Emmets v St Mary’s, P Matthews. shows he has won championships in various counties but he insists that keeping the Round Two Clogherhead outfit in the senior grade this Thursday May 21 season would be almost as big an Pairc Naomh Malachi, Courtbane - 7.30pm achievement as any silverware he has won Kilkerley Emmets v Sean O’Mahony’s, K Levins. in the past. Sunday May 24 “The ambition is to stay in senior this Cluskey Park, Dromiskin - 3.15pm year,” said Clarke. “That's why they asked Dreadnots v Dundalk Gaels, P Matthews. me to train the boys and that's what I'm here St Brigid’s Park, Dowdallshill - 6.10pm to do. St Patrick’s v St Mary’s. “I was put under no pressure to do more than that because I'm only a part-time coach Round Three and that suits me just fine. St Mary’s v Sean O’Mahony’s. “The role I have with the Dreadnots is Dundalk Gaels v Kilkerley Emmets. quite simply really. They're keeping the St Patrick’s v Dreadnots. show on the road and I'm just passing on my advice. I'm enjoying it so far though. Round Four “We had four minors finish our game with Sean O’Mahony’s v Dundalk Gaels. the O'Connells recently and almost half of Kilkerley Emmets v St Patrick’s. the team is still under 21 so we're a young St Mary’s v Dreadnots. side with more ambitions for the future than the present but that suits me too because I Round Five like working with young players. Dundalk Gaels v St Mary’s. “The Dreadnots boys have a great Sean O’Mahony’s v St Patrick’s. attitude though. They listen to everything Dreadnots v Kilkerley Emmets. you say and then you can see in matches Dates and venues for matches in later rounds have yet to that they're mad keen to carry out the be determined. things you worked on in training. As a

SFC Group B fixtures

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coach, that's one of the most satisfying things in the world,” he said. While consolidation this season is his top priority, Clarke refused to rule out the possibility of anything more than that but insisted he could only see the title going to one of the Newtown Blues, St Patrick's or Mattock Rangers come the end of the season. “Even with the best will in the world, I feel the big three are untouchable and that one of them will go on to win it. “It would be nice to think we could get to a quarter-final or so but the main aim is not to go straight back down which is the danger for a lot of teams after they're promoted.“We probably got a good draw in Paddy Clarke hopes to keep the Dreadnots up in senior terms of the group we're in. I'd certainly rather be in our group than the other one. I Wishing success to St. Marys GAA in remember listening to the draw on the radio this years Championship from at the start of the year and although I hadn't made my mind up on whether to take the job or not at that stage, it did help when I heard our group. “Regardless of what happens though, there's no pressure on me to work any miracles and the whole arrangement suits me just fine. “I like working with young players and it'd be nice to think that even if they achieve something a couple of years down the road that I played a small part along the way. Stabannon were a young team when I went there and as were Mattock and the Dreadnots definitely have the potential to follow the example of those clubs in the long term. Silverhill, Ardee, Co.Louth “We're concentrating on the present though and we've a tough start against the Tel: 041 685 6175 Sean O'Mahony's. We'd be pretty relieved to get a result from that game but it'll be a good Mobile: 087 255 0492 contest nonetheless,” he said.

Oliver Burke TRANSPORT


Wednesday April 29 2009

Dundalk Democrat UP FOR THE CUPS

Up for the Cups

9

www.dundalkdemocrat.ie

O’Brien hoping to see the Sean O’Mahony’s challenge after two close calls with relegation By James Rogers AFTER two years of avoiding relegation back to the intermediate grade by the skin of their teeth, Sean O'Mahony's boss Barry O'Brien is hoping it's a case of third time lucky as his side look to make a major breakthrough in the Senior

Championship. Despite some impressive league performances in recent years, the Point Road outfit have had to record wins against St Joseph's and Naomh Malachi in relegation play-offs in each of the last two seasons to retain their senior status. However, O'Brien is hopeful of a better

showing this time around despite admitting that it was a major hindrance to his side that they quite often were unable to field their strongest 15 players at the one time. “We have a very poor record in the last two years but we hope to improve that this year,” said O'Brien. “It's not the worst draw we could have

got. I suppose the Pat's look likely to win the group but after that there's two other places in the latter stages very much up for grabs. “If we can win our first game then we'll have a great chance of qualifying but it must be remembered we're still a very young side. “Our biggest problem is that we

don't have our full 15 out regularly enough. We were down five for one of our recent games and we also have four lads in the army who could get called away at any time. “Our panel has got bigger lately though as we've three minors from this year and three minors from last year all vying for their

places now and that's a big help. “We're looking forward to it this year and although not everything went according to plan in recent years, we're confident of doing better this year,” said O'Brien. ❑ Read Barry O’Brien’s Championship Betting odds on page 2-3.

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McGinnity raring to go By James Rogers

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SINCE captaining Dundalk Gaels to the 2005 Intermediate title, championship football has been very much a stop-start affair for Peter McGinnity. In that time, the Ramparts Road outfit have been relegated, won promotion again and finally established themselves as a solid Division One outfit. Despite having the honour of captaining his county during that time though, it would be fair to say that McGinnity's contribution in all of that has been minimal. The Louth star has had a couple of injury plagued seasons with back problems keeping him out for almost entire campaigns, including the Seamus Flood Cup success of two years ago and a large portion of last season too. However, as the Gaels prepare for their championship opener with three time winners St Patrick's, McGinnity has rarely felt in better condition than he does at present and he insists he is really looking forward to the campaign ahead as a result. “I've had a good few years of injury and it has been frustrating,” he admitted. “I was trying to balance club and county football and, if truth be told, I ended up not really getting a proper run with either. “I've not been in the Louth team as much this year though and as a result I feel a good bit fresher. Hopefully it stays that way now,” he said. In their first year up in the senior grade last year, the Gaels had a reasonably successful campaign – just failing to make it to the championship's latter stages and getting to the league semi-final. McGinnity insists, however, that they

must build on that this season under new manager JP O'Kane. “We had a good enough year last year I felt. “We got to the semi-final of the league and we didn't do too badly in the championship considering that the first few games didn't really go our way. “We lost to Glyde, the Pat's and then threw away a big lead against the Mairtins but it must be remembered that this is still a young enough team. I think considering last year was our first year back up in senior we did quite well though. “The aim this year is to reach the latter stages of the championship and unless we do that then you'd have to say we haven't made progress,” said McGinnity. Despite the Gaels' ambitions of a place in the latter stages, the half-back admitted that they couldn't have faced a much tougher start than a clash with St Patrick's in the opening round. “You really couldn't get a much tougher opener than a game against the Pat's,” he said. “They are very strong but I think we know them quite well at this stage and we know what we'll have to produce to beat them. “I suppose if you're going to do anything though then you're going to have to beat the good teams and playing the likes of the Pat's in the opening game should really focus our minds on what we want to achieve. “Although we were happy enough with what we achieved overall last season, we didn't really do ourselves justice in the championship. I feel we have the potential in the squad to take things on to another level but for us this season it's really all about pulling all the pieces together and getting a bit of consistency going. If we do that we'll be all right,” said McGinnity.

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10

Dundalk Democrat UP FOR THE CUPS

Wednesday April 29 2009

Up for the Cups Can Inside Track pick yet another football championship treble?

TWO years ago The Dundalk Democrat’s Inside Track columnist Joe Carroll picked who he thought would win the senior, intermediate and junior football championships in Louth. His selections were St Patrick’s for the Joe Ward, Dundalk Gaels for the Seamus Flood Cup and Dundalk Young Irelands for the Christy Bellew Cup. Unfortunately, for Joe he had no money on the trio as lo and behold it came up with all three clubs winning their respective finals. The big question is can he do it again? Only time will tell but to find out Joe’s selections for this season read his latest Inside Track column on page 70 of this week’s The Dundalk Democrat.

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No conflict of interest for Carroll ahead of Gaels clash By James Rogers

EAMON Carroll knows he might not be too popular at home if St Patrick's beat the Dundalk Gaels in their championship opener at the weekend. While the former Louth panellist has played with the Lordship men for as long as he remembers and hails from a staunch Pat's area in Bellurgan Point, his father Joe (below) has been a loyal Gaels clubman his entire life and is still a member of the club committee. As a result there are sure to be a few divided loyalties when the two sides clash in Clan na Gael Park at the weekend. “I've been getting a bit of slagging about that already,” admitted Eamon. “I'm used to it by now though. Some of the lads have been asking me where my allegiances lie but I'm used to that by now because we've played the Gaels quite a bit in the last few years,” he laughed. Many expect St Patrick's to stroll through their group after being paired in what has been dubbed the easier of the two sections. However, Carroll insisted his side would be taking nothing for granted in Group B.

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St Patrick’s Eamon Carroll in action against the Newtown Blues “I suppose it will be seen as the last game of the league last the easier section on paper but year so, if anything, we owe that can have its pitfalls as well. them one. “Like every year though we're When you're playing the top teams you've got to have your relying on a bit of luck on the mind focused and if you believe injury front because we have so the hype that you've got it easy many lads on the county panel. then then that's when you can All you can do is pray that they become complacent and take come back from championship action with Louth in one piece. your eye off the ball. “Having said that I think the “We'll not be taking anything for granted though and we just rest of the lads have stepped plan to take each game as it things up a bit this season. We comes, starting with the Gaels. have Shorty Treanor back They gave us a good beating in training us and we had a good

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Eamon Carroll’s father, Joe, is a staunch Dundalk Gaels supporter and is sure to be in the blue corner at Clan na Gael Park on Sunday despite his youngest playing for the opposition, St Patrick’s

“I’ve been getting a bit of slagging about it already. I’m used to it by now though. Some of the lads have been asking me where my allegiances lie but I’m used to that by now because we’ve played the Gaels quite a bit.” EAMON CARROLL ST PATRICK’S FORWARD

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run in the ACC Cup and have started the league okay so things are going well at the moment.” With Pat's and Blues both on three titles this decade, Carroll insisted it would act as an extra incentive to his side this year to win the last Joe Ward of the 'Noughties and claim the title of Team of the Decade. “It's definitely an added incentive,” he admitted. “The Blues are the form team at the moment after their win last year so we want to answer that back. “I don't feel like we need any extra incentive to win the Joe Ward though. “Last year was a major disappointment for us so we're anxious to make up for that. “I feel we've come on from that already though. It was great to see Eoin O'Connor playing for the Louth minors in the championship and we've had a few other young lads come in and make a difference to the team. The likes of Evan White and Darren O'Hanlon have been very impressive for us so far this season and it's good to see fresh blood like that come into the side as it prevents things from going stale,” said Carroll.

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Dundalk Democrat UP FOR THE CUPS

Up for the Cups

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McElroy has extra reason to target Kilkerley victory Birth of first son set to drive Shaun on By James Rogers SHAUN McElroy will have an extra special reason for hoping to get Kilkerley's championship campaign off to a winning start against St Mary's at the weekend. Having just become a father for the first time, the forward will be hoping to claim a win in honour of his new born son. However, before he can think of getting one over the Ardee men, McElroy has a busy day on Sunday ahead of him. “I have the christening the day of the championship,” he admitted. “The Mass is that morning then we'll have a meal after it and hopefully I'll be playing in the championship that night. “We seem to have got

the easier side of the draw this year but there's no easy games in the championship either. “St Mary's haven't had a great start to the season but the championship is a different kettle of fish and I'm sure they'll be well up for beating us.” After a difficult campaign last season that saw Kilkerley just stay up in the league despite losing to Naomh Malachi on the final day, McElroy is hopeful that the club can return to their form of 2007 under new boss Martin McQuillan when they reached the quarter-finals of the championship before losing out to eventual champions St Patrick's by just two points. “Hopefully this year we can push on from where we left off two years ago,” said McElroy.

Kilkerley’s Shaun McElroy gets the better of Sean O’Mahony’s Conor Finnegan in their league clash at the weekend. The two sides will go head to head in Group B of this year’s Senior Championship

“The Mass is that morning then we’ll have a meal after it and hopefully I’ll be playing that night.” SHAUN MCELROY KILKERLEY EMMETS “Pat's only beat us by two points the last time we reached the quarter-finals and if we can get out of the group again then anything can happen. “The Pat's will be the favourites to win the group and probably

“We definitely want to improve this year. I've been playing senior football since I was 17 and only played in one quarter-final and that was our first since we reached the final in 1999 so we're eager to get into the latter stages on a more regular basis. “Donal McElroy and Donal Lennon are the only two players still with the club who played in the final 10 years ago but we hope we can start improving again and start making the knock-out stages on a more regular basis and that's the aim for this year,” he said.

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rightly so but after that every other team will be trying to get either second or third place. “We had a good few away last year, a few injuries and I was suspended two months of the season myself so it was difficult but we're hopeful of doing well this time around. “We have the likes of Cathal Bellew, Conal McGeough and Shaun Hand in the side now and they're all young lads who have been doing very well. There's been a better commitment already this year and we've had big numbers at training.

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Dundalk Democrat UP FOR THE CUPS

Intermediate Championship Group A Clan na Gael Manager: Declan Smyth. Last season: Quarter-finals. Key Player: Mark McGeown. One to Watch: Paul Martin. Last IFC title: 1945. Hopes: Have the ability to go the distance but hitting form early will be key in a tough group.

Oliver Plunketts Manager: Robert Brady. Last season: Semi-finals. Key Player: Cian Matthews. One to Watch: Sean Brassil. Last IFC title: 1985. Hopes: Have the ability to go all the way if they hit form. Coming through the group is the priority.

Wednesday April 29 2009

Up for the Cups

Ronan hoping for rub of the Greene as Malachi’s look to bounce back to senior grade By James Rogers

THE aim is simple. The goal less so. Having come down from the senior grade last season, Naomh Malachi Naomh Malachi hope to bounce back Manager: Padraig O’Neill. straight away. Last season: Relegated (SFC). The experience of other Key Player: Kevin Rogers. sides in recent years One to Watch: Jason Clarke. suggests that is easier said Last IFC title: 2006. than done, however, and Hopes: Will be hoping for an the Courtbane outfit know instant return to the senior but it. that is often easier said than done. Still, Malachi's centre back Ronan Greene is Dundalk Young Irelands confident his side have the Manager: Kieran Maguire. ability to bounce back up Last season: Relegation play-off. to the senior grade but is Key Player: Derek Maguire. well aware that there are One to Watch: Mark Savage. plenty of sides who would Last IFC title: 1996. only be too happy to stop Hopes: Having just avoided the them from doing so. drop last season, staying up is “The Intermediate likely to be top priority again. Championship is always very tight and there's O Raghallaigh’s never really ever that much between the teams. Manager: Josh Carolan. The pressure is always on Last season: Semi-finals. you in this grade no matter Key Player: Craig McEnteggart. who you're playing and it One to Watch: Barry Flanagan. hasn't made our task any Last IFC title: Never won. Hopes: Have reached the last four easier by the fact we've probably been drawn into in the last number of years and could be a dark horse once more. the tougher of the two groups. “We want to go straight St Joseph’s back up though because Manager: Pat Mulligan. our aim is to play at the Last season: Quarter-finals. highest level that we can. Key Player: David Reilly. It won't be easy to get back One to Watch: Alan McKenna. up this season but if we Last IFC title: 1990. play like we know we can Hopes: After disappointing last then it is certainly season, the 2006 senior champs will expect to challenge this year. possible,” said Greene. The former Louth defender insists that his IFC Group A fixtures side have the ability to Friday May 1 stay up if they get back up McGeough Park, Haggardstown - 7.30pm and described their Dundalk YI v O Raghallaigh’s, K Carroll. relegation as a nightmare,

Saturday May 2 Gaelic Grounds, Drogheda - 6.10pm Oliver Plunketts v St Joseph’s, J Moynagh. The Grove, Castlebellingham - 7.30pm Clan na Gael v Naomh Malachi, N Hand.

Round Two Friday May 22 Pairc na Gaeil, Ramparts, Dundalk - 7.30pm St Joseph’s v Clan na Gael. Saturday May 23 Clan na Gael Park, Dundalk - 6.10pm Naomh Malachi v O Raghallaigh’s, D Murtagh. Stabannon - 7.30pm Dundalk YI v Oliver Plunketts, M Craven. Round Three O Raghallaigh’s v Oliver Plunketts. Clan na Gael v Dundalk Young Irelands. Naomh Malachi v St Joseph’s. Round Four Oliver Plunketts v Clan na Gael. Dundalk Young Irelands v Naomh Malachi. O Raghallaigh’s v St Joseph’s. Round Five Clan na Gael v O Raghallaigh’s. Oliver Plunketts v Naomh Malachi. St Joseph’s v Dundalk Young Irelands. Dates for matches in later rounds have yet to be set.

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just a year after their run to the senior championship quarterfinals and progression to the Cardinal O'Donnell Cup final, where they eventually took Cooley Kickhams to a replay. “Last year was a nightmare for us,” said Greene. “We never reached the heights of the year before or even came close to it and going down was a major kick in the teeth for us. “We'd love to get straight back up but that will be easier said than done. There are a number of tricky teams in our group, starting with the Clans in the first game. “They might not be on the best of runs at the moment but they have a great championship history behind them and I'm sure they'll raise their game on Saturday night. “As a matter of fact, last time we played them in the championship they really taught us a lesson and showed us how it was done. “They might not be as strong as they were maybe 10 years ago but they still have some very good footballers. Mark McGeown is always a big threat but there are plenty more as well. “The Joe's are also flying at the moment and getting big results in the senior league. They came down the year before us and they'll be looking to get back up again. It wasn't that long ago they

Naomh Malachi’s Ronan Greene were the county champions after all. “The O Raghallaigh's are another team that are always there or thereabouts but I genuinely believe all the teams in our group have the ability to challenge for the title with a bit of luck though. It's been proven down through the years that there is never really anything in it at this level. “When we last won the championship in 2006, it was the last year of the old

format and we were glad to get out when we did because we knew how tough it was then and how much tougher it was going to become. “It's important for us to make a good start but all we can really do is take each game as it comes.” The Malachi's prospects for their opener with Clan na Gael is hardly helped by the absence of three key players. “Ronan McElroy is out with a hand injury at the

moment and Feidhlim Daly is struggling as well. He played for a while on Sunday but he wasn't too good after it and, if we're honest about it, we probably brought him back a bit too soon. “Darragh (Greene) is also unavailable to us at the moment as he's concentrating on his running and he's another big loss as his pace is a huge asset to the team,” said the Naomh Malachi defender.

Carolan reckons several sides could challenge for Flood Cup By James Rogers O RAGHALLAIGH'S manager Josh Carolan reckons there's seven or eight teams in the intermediate grade with realistic hopes of winning the Seamus Flood Cup come October. And despite his side losing semi-finals in each of the last four seasons, he insists his side won't be also-rans if they get that far again. “There's probably seven or eight teams who could realistically win the championship this year. “The way things stand at the moment I don't know if we're one of them or not. We've been narrowly beaten in the last four years in the semi-finals and the hope is that we can improve on that but the players are still settling at the moment and it's

O Raghallaigh’s boss Josh Carolan only a few weeks ago since we were comprehensively beaten by the O'Connells. “A lot of people say we've been unlucky not to have at least made a final in the last few years but I believe you make your own luck and if we're beaten in another semi-

final this year then I won't be blaming it on luck. “What I would say is, that if we get that far then we'll be hard to beat. The question is will we get that far though? “It's too far away to be thinking about winning anything just yet. We're still adjusting into a new setup at the minute. Seamus O'Hanlon is giving me a hand to train the team and getting off to a winning start against the Young Irelands is the only aim I have at the moment. “We've had a bit of an up and down start to the season. We've had a few injuries and the lads are only really beginning to settle now. A lot of the lads have been there since 2004 and they were very young then but they're getting to the right age now. “We had a good result against Na Piarsaigh in

Dundalk at the weekend but we can't take that as a sign we'll win next weekend. “Dundalk Young Irelands are more than capable of taking a few scalps and we certainly won't be underestimating them. People say we're the favourites but put it this way; they have more on the Louth panel than we have. “It's going to be difficult this year with the group we're in. The Joes and the Malachis will be dangerous because they're playing senior level, playing at a higher level and against better teams. “All we can do is give it our best shot and hope that that is good enough,” said Carolan. The O Raghallaigh's will be without Louth U-21 star Barry Flanagan for their opener with the Young Irelands while Eoghan Farrelly and Ciaran Carolan are doubts.


Wednesday April 29 2009

Dundalk Democrat UP FOR THE CUPS

Up for the Cups

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Quigley hoping Clans can turn things around for start of the championship By James Rogers

AS preparations for a championship go, Clan na Gael couldn't be in a worse position right now. Three league defeats on the trot have left confidence on the Ecco Road at a real low going into their Seamus Flood Cup opener with Naomh Malachi in Castlebellingham. However, JJ Quigley is hoping that the Clans show their tradition of old this Saturday and raise their game for the championship as they look to get themselves out of their current slump. “It's been tough for us so far this year,” admitted the pacy attacker. “Things haven't been too for us in the league so far because we've had three losses in a row. “The first game is going to be a big test for us because the Malachi's are a tough team to play against. They play at a higher standard for us so we'll definitely have to raise our game. “The way we're playing at the moment we just have to take one game at a time because the last few results have been bad. “We're kicking a lot of wides at the moment. I think in our first league game we kicked something like 19 wides and if you do that then you'll not win many games. “Nothing seems to be going right for us at the moment. Against St Mary's at the weekend we gave away a couple of bad goals and missed a penalty then ourselves. “All we can do though is keeping working hard because I believe you make your own luck. We've probably had enough chances to win our first three matches but if we keep creating them then someone will pay for it eventually hopefully.” While things might be glum for Declan Smyth's side at present, Quigley insists that a victory over the Malachi's would take a lot of pressure off them. “It's the first time we've played them in a long time because they've been in the senior grade but if we get a good result that'll get our heads up again. “It definitely takes a lot of pressure off you if you can get a win in your first game. “Having said that they'll be tough to beat too. They'll want to go straight back up after being relegated last season. We were in the same boat a couple of years ago and it didn't happen for us but they have a good mix of players and a really good squad. “It'll be all down to what happens on the day but all we can do for now is worry about ourselves and hope to turn things around,” said Quigley.

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Maguire determined to keep Irelands up in intermediate grade By James Rogers DUNDALK Young Irelands boss Kieran Maguire insists it would almost be as good as winning the championship itself if the county's oldest club celebrated their 125th anniversary by securing their intermediate status this season. Having been paired in a group that contains two teams flying high in the senior league, two of last year's beaten semi-finalists and a Clan na Gael side who dispatched of them easily in last year's group stages, the Pairc Eire Og outfit are many people's tips to be involved in a relegation battle once more this season. And by his own admission, Maguire admits the Young Irelands are underdogs. However, he is determined that they will retain their intermediate status this season as the club concentrates on the primary aim of promotion from Division Three of the league. “I couldn't have picked a harder group if I tried myself,” said the former Louth minor manager. “The unfortunate thing for us is that we're playing junior football on a weekly basis and when we go out in the intermediate championship we have to try and step things up another bit from what we're used to. “Our main aim is to stay in the intermediate grade. We might get a bit of a run if we're lucky but I think we'd be happy with our season if we managed to stay where we are and got out of the junior league. “It's tough for us at the moment because of the age profile of the side. The oldest player on the team is Aaron Rogers and the next oldest is

23. These guys are still learning about the game and it's tough for them to take on some of the top sides but if we want to be the best then that's the opposition we'll have to play,” he said. First up for the Young Irelands is a tricky clash with the O Raghallaigh's in Haggardstown with Maguire full of praise for the side that he watched beat Na Piarsaigh at the Rock Road on Sunday evening. “To me the O Raghallaigh's have been one of the top teams in the intermediate grade for a number of years and they've probably been a wee bit unlucky not to get to a final in the last couple of seasons. “The ambitions of the two clubs are different though. We'll be happy to avoid a relegation play-off again. Our biggest strength is that we have a lot of good young forwards and they're learning all the time so we've got to keep that going and maintain our status so that when those lads mature we're ready to challenge. “It's good to have a couple of lads on the county panel this season because they always give that wee bit extra when they come back to the club because they've been playing and training at a higher standard. “Derek (Maguire) and Peter (Nixon) are only fringe players at the moment but they've definitely given us an edge in the games we've played since they've come back to us. “They'll be two key players for us this season but all everyone can do is their best. We're a young side but if we can stay in the intermediate championship for a couple more years then these lads will be seasoned and then we can push on a bit more,” said Maguire.

Kieran Maguire, pictured during his spell as Louth minor manager, is determined to prevent the Dundalk Young Irelands from going down this season

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Dundalk Democrat UP FOR THE CUPS

Wednesday April 29 2009

Up for the Cups

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O hEochaidh relishing difficult start to the championship for Oliver Plunketts By James Rogers

IF the Oliver Plunketts could have picked their opponents for their championship opener you would have thought it unlikely that they'd have chosen St St Joseph’s manager Pat Mulligan (centre) with Louth boss Eamon McEneaney and former Joe’s senior Joseph's. After all the Darver championship winner Stephen Melia during his time as a selector with the Wee County and Dromiskin men are one of the form teams in the county and have taken five out of a possible six points from their opening three league matches in Division One – a grade higher than the men from Mell. You'd think that they would be the last side that the Plunketts would want to face. You'd be wrong. The Drogheda outfit's full back team who have a bit of momentum another and you need a bit of the Aonghus O hEochaidh By James Rogers about them at the moment. rub of the green and for things to insists the in-form Joe's They've a lot of good young players go your way in order to do that. are the perfect ST Joseph's manager Pat Mulligan and I don't think anyone can afford “The Plunketts will be no opponents for a is refusing to get carried away with to take them for granted. rollovers at the weekend though. I championship opener. his side's impressive start to the “We've made a good start to the know they're putting in a big effort “We've definitely got season ahead of their league but it's really early days yet. this year and it seems that the a tough start against championship opener with the This is a new Joe's team and effort they had been making at the Joe's,” he said. Oliver Plunketts this weekend. they're putting in a tremendous underage level is paying off as they “It's only three years The Darver and Dromiskin men effort. The older boys like David have a lot of good young players. ago that they were the have really caught the eye so far Reilly, Ollie McDonnell and David “Apart from them there are a senior champions and this season with five points from a O'Donoghue are a great example to number of other good sides in the they're on such a good possible six in their opening three the younger lads and we're really group so we'll be taking nothing run of form at the league matches. lucky to have the likes of them in for granted. If you start taking moment that we However, despite that promising the panel. anything for granted then football probably couldn't have start former Louth selector “We set our stall out at the start has a great way of humbling you picked a harder Mulligan insists that the of the year to work to the best of and we don't want to find ourselves opening game. championship is a different kettle our ability and be as honest as we in that situation,” said Mulligan. “I reckon it's a good of fish and that that his side cannot could and if that attitude proves The Joe's are expected to be time to get them afford to become complacent in good enough over the course of the without the services of influential though as we know what he deems a very tricky group. year then so be it. duo Conor Murtagh and Anthony we'll have to be at our “There's a lot of very good teams “Obviously we'd like to get off to Keenan for the clash with the very best to beat them in our section,” said the Dromiskin a winning start on Saturday but Plunketts in Drogheda, while Ollie and the fact they are on NS principal. the league part of the McDonnell remains a doubt with such a good run of “We've the Plunketts up first championship is all about getting an achilles tendon injury despite form means that we'll and they're definitely a form youn out of the group one way or featuring at the weekend. really have to focus our

Mulligan not getting carried away by Joe’s super start to season

Wishing success in the forthcoming Championship to St. Josephs.

AONGHUS O HEOCHAIDH OLIVER PLUNKETTS

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now for the championship as well so that'll make a massive difference to us. “I think every team in this section will take points off each out and I reckon that even if you lost your first two games then you could still be in it. “We know it'll be tough but we're looking forward to the challenge. The young lads that have come into our team in the last while have made us stronger and a lot of them have a couple of years under their belts now. “You need a bit of luck to win a championship but I'd be confident that we can come through the group stages and after that anything can happen. “We know what we want though. The championship is everything this year to us,” said O hEochaidh.

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minds on the game. “We got to the semifinals last year and we want to do better than that this time around. There was nothing between ourselves and Na Piarsaigh but we just didn't play well. Our lads are a year older now though and they've learnt from last year so they'll be really fired up for the Joe's game.” Despite his optimism, O hEochaidh admitted that his side were up against it to qualify from an incredibly tough group. “We definitely got a raw deal this year with the way the draw worked out. There's a lot of teams in that section capable of beating each other so I'd say it will go right down the wire. “We're reasonably happy with the start we've made to the season and we should have Emmet Kelleher and Davy Boylan back

“We definitely got a tough start against the Joe’s. It’s only three years ago that they were senior champions and they’re on such a good run that we probably couldn’t have picked a harder game.”

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Wednesday April 29 2009

Intermediate Championship Group B Na Piarsaigh Selectors: Pierce Craven and Damien Shields. Last season: Runners-up. Key Player: Alan McCartney. One to Watch: Jarlath Lyons. Last IFC title: Never won. Hopes: Hoping to go one better after last year’s breakthrough.

Roche Emmets Manager: Noel Litchfield. Last season: Group stages. Key Player: Kevin Callaghan. One to Watch: Barry O’Hare. Last IFC title: 1997. Hopes: Last year’s Sheelan Cup win showed their potential but they must hit form to challenge.

Dundalk Democrat UP FOR THE CUPS

Up for the Cup

IFC Group B fixtures Friday May 1 Boice Park, Monasterboice - 7.30pm Hunterstown Rovers v St Nicholas, L O’Neill. Sunday May 3 Pairc Ui Mhuire, Dunleer - 2pm O’Connells v Na Piarsaigh, T McEnteggart. St Brigid’s Park, Dowdallshill - 6.10pm Geraldines v Roche Emmets, P Finnegan. Round Two Saturday May 23 Clan na Gael Park, Dundalk - 7.30pm Roche Emmets v O’Connells, L O’Neill. Sunday May 24 Cluskey Park, Dromiskin - 2pm Na Piarsaigh v St Nicholas, P Kneel. Pairc Ui Mhuire, Dunleer - 3.15pm Hunterstown Rovers v Geraldines. P Connolly. Round Three St Nicholas v Geraldines. O’Connells v Hunterstown Rovers. Na Piarsaigh v Roche Emmets. Round Four Geraldines v O’Connells. Hunterstown Rovers v Na Piarsaigh. St Nicholas v Roche Emmets. Round Five O’Connells v St Nicholas. Geraldines v Na Piarsaigh. Roche Emmets v Hunterstown Rovers. Dates for matches in later rounds have yet to be set.

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Geraldines’ future is bright but it could take youngsters a while to shine warns Hoey By James Rogers

WITH two minor titles under their belts, the future of Geraldines GFC certainly looks bright. The Blackrock and Haggardstown side's manager O’Connells Gerry Hoey insists it could take Manager: Paul Litchfield. another couple of years for that Last season: Group stages. promise to really shine through, Key Player: Stuart Reynolds. however, as his side prepare for One to Watch: Niall Conlon. their championship opener with Last IFC title: Never won. Roche Emmets at the weekend. Hopes: Another team with the The former Louth minor potential to go all the way and if selector knows there is plenty of they could be a real dark horse. ability in his side but fears it could be a little too soon for the St Nicholas members of Eamon McEneaney's Manager: Hugh Downey. all conquering minor side to make Last season: Junior champions. a serious breakthrough at adult Key Player: Keith Arnold. level just yet. One to Watch: Richard Gibney. “If we're being realistic about it, Last IFC title: Never won. then it'd be a bonus to get out of Hopes: Surprise winners of Junior the group stages this year. If we're last season and their main priority still in the intermediate this year will be to stay up. championship next year though then I'll be happy,” said Hoey. Geraldines “We've a mix of young and old at the club at the minute and what Manager: Gerry Hoey we're really trying to do is get a Last season: Group stages. settled team. We'd probably be Key Player: Jim McEneaney. happy if we won two or three One to Watch: Tiernan Hand. games this season and if that's Last IFC title: 2005. Hopes: Going all the way might be enough to take us through to the too much yet for this young side next round then so be it but if not but they could cause a few shocks. then it gives us something to build on for the following year. Hunterstown Rovers “It's a tough enough group we're in and I think the two top Manager: Jim Clifford. teams will be the O'Connells, Last season: Group stages. because they're flying at the Key Player: Padraig Matthews. minute, and Na Piarsaigh because One to Watch: Brendan Lennon. they were in the final last year. Last IFC title: 1999. “We've Roche up first and I Hopes: The league is likely to be

their top priority this year and as such they’d be happy to stay up.

15

don't know a whole lot about them to be honest. I know they've a lot of young lads in their side like ourselves so it'll probably be a 50/50 game. Both sides will probably feel beforehand that it's a game they can win but the thing about intermediate football is that you'll probably not know where you are until you're about three games in. “We've had a fantastic record at underage level in the last couple of years but it's a big step up from minor level to senior level and we've only played three league games so far so it's hard to know where we stand at the moment.” The Geraldines have some major injury worries at present with Jim McEneaney, Shane Thornton, Ed Smyth and Michael Rogers all set to miss their championship opener in Dowdallshill at the weekend. However, the club are likely to receive a major boost later this summer when former Louth star John Neary returns to action for the club. “John is on his way back to us. He's had work commitments which have restricted the amount of time he has to play and although he's not back training at the moment, he has shown an interest to come back to us and hopefully we'll have him back sometime during the summer. “Our main ambition though is to be in intermediate football next season because it'll take a year or two for some of these young lads to get used to competing at this level,” said Hoey.

Geraldines manager Gerry Hoey

Downey’s main priority is to avoid an instant return to the Junior ranks for St Nicholas By James Rogers

WHILE most teams will be plotting how to make it out of their group over the course of the next couple of days, St Nicholas manager Hugh Downey is simply plotting how to stay up. Having just been promoted to the intermediate grade as Junior champions, the Rathmullen outfit are realistic enough to know that they will be one of the favourites to go straight back down again. While an ambition to avoid the drop is hardly lofty, Downey insists it is important for his side to consolidate their position for a couple of seasons so that they can continue the rebuilding work that took a massive leap forward last year

St Nicholas manager Hugh Downey when they pipped Lannleire to the Christy Bellew Cup after a replay. “First and foremost we don't want to get relegated,” admitted Downey. “We struggled in the Sheelan Cup recently when we made the step up so it shows we have a lot to learn before we can start to challenge at this level.

“When the draw was made I thought that initially we were in the handier side of the draw but now I'm probably not so sure because if you look at the teams we're going to face, they're good, young sides who will be flying fit.” Having said that, Downey insists the opening fixtures have been kind to the Nicks and he says his side are happy to be playing Hunterstown Rovers in the opening game considering the MidLouth men are also competing in Division Three this season. “It's not a bad start but it won't be easy either,” he admitted. “They've had a bit of an up and down start to the league but the championship is a different kettle of fish

Shane Downey lifts the Junior title last year altogether. “We're not helped by the fact we're missing the three Carters but if did get two or three transfers in over the winter and they're a help to us. I feel like we're going well in the league at the moment and our confidence is up slightly going into the game because we've put up two good scores in the last couple of games.

“It'd be great to get off to a winning start because if we can get that first win then we don't have to worry about relegation for a while. If we lose the first few games though then doubts could start to creep in about whether we're good enough for this level. “I know from last year when we won the Junior Championship that a lot of it is to do with luck and we'll need the rub of the green this summer. “I watched a lot of intermediate football last year and the standard is completely different to what we're used to but having said that we have no fear of anybody and we're looking forward to giving the intermediate championship a real lash because this is where we wanted to be,” he said.


16

Dundalk Democrat UP FOR THE CUPS

Wednesday April 29 2009

Up for the Cups

www.dundalkdemocrat.ie

Right ambition, wrong cup for Roche Emmets By James Rogers

Martin Craven and Paudie Callaghan hold aloft the Paddy Sheelan Cup after Roche Emmets’ superb victory over Naomh Mairtin in Dromiskin 12 months ago. It wasn’t the cup that the Faughart outfit truly wanted though according to Dermot Craven (inset)

Wishing O'Connell's GFC every success in this years Championship

Family rivalry forthcoming THERE could be some major family rivalry in round two of this year’s championship as Roche Emmets manager Noel Litchfield is set to come up against his brother Paul, who is managing the O’Connells. There’s sure to be some banter in the Litchfield households the week before and after that game, set for Clan na Gael Park on Saturday May 23.

THERE aren't many pieces of silverware given out to teams in a year but Roche Emmets were one of the lucky ones to get their hands on a trophy last year when they lifted the Paddy Sheelan Cup. After their victory over Naomh Mairtin in Dromiskin, they claimed it would be the first of three. In the end, it was their only piece of silverware. The problem was it wasn't the one they really wanted. By their own admission, the Faughart outfit started last season at too quick a pace. This year things are being taken a lot more slowly with experienced defender Dermot Craven admitting that that is all with trying to lift the Seamus Flood Cup come the end of the season in mind. “Last year we won the Sheelan Cup and faded. I suppose injuries were a factor in that but we also took our foot of the pedal,” admitted Craven. “The cup was a great bonus to us so early in the year but it wasn't

really the one that we wanted. “We weren't complaining at the time and, even now, we're glad we got it because it was a senior trophy and it was brilliant to win but if you look back and were able to pick one of the trophies, it'd probably be viewed as the lesser of the three. “It's gone now though. We didn't retain it and so the focus is on the league and the championship. “Our aim now is simply to get out of the group because we haven't done that since we came back down from the senior grade. If we can manage to get out of the group then anything can happen from there,” he said. The full back is well aware though that his side face a major test this season in what he views as a tough group. “It's been called the easier of the two groups but I don't believe there are such things as easy groups. We've been in socalled easy groups before and been in so-called difficult groups before but the reality is that every game in the championship is tough. “We've the Geraldines

up first on Sunday evening and they're coming into the game on the back of a good win over the Dreadnots, who won the intermediate championship last year. “The Geraldines have some good minors coming through at the moment so it's a tough start for us. “There'll be other tough games too. Na Piarsaigh will be one of the hardest to beat based on how well they did last year in reaching the final and they'll want to do what the Dreadnots done and bounce back from losing a final to win it the following year. “The O'Connells are also flying at the minute, Hunterstown have been competing at this level for years now while the Nicks are only up and will want to prove a point. “We can only really talk about ourselves though and I feel there's a good buzz around the team this year. “Our main focus is on building consistency in the league and hopefully taking that into the i n t e r m e d i a t e championship,” said Craven.

Conlon expecting big things from O’Connells

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“John Flanagan has been a major influence on traing since he joined us and he’s really brought the lads on. I really feel this is the best chance we’ll ever have of winning a championship”

By James Rogers

MORE than a couple of people have been impressed with the start the O'Connells have made to the season and rightly so. They ran senior champions the Newtown Blues close in the Sheelan Cup after a series of good results prior to that and followed up that form with an impressive start to the league which has seen them claim five out of a possible six points so far, including an eye-catching 20 point victory over the O Raghallaigh's. Things are certainly looking up for The Grove men after a disappointing season last year and forward Jonathan Conlon feels they'll never have a better chance of winning the Seamus Flood Cup as this season. “There's never any easy games in the championship but we're flying fit at the minute and we'd be very disappointed if we didn't do well this season,” said the club PRO. “I really feel this is the best

O’Connells forward Jonathan Conlon

JONATHAN CONLON O’CONNELLS FORWARD

John Flanagan is playing for the O’Connells after leaving Dundalk

chance we'll ever have of winning a championship. “Paul Litchfield is in charge of us this year and so far he's done a wonderful job. He's banned the lads from playing soccer and it's definitely worked. “A lot of our lads would have played MDL with Dromin Utd and I was reading recently in the paper where Lannleire have a lot of injuries at the moment and I have no doubt that that is

because their players have picked up knocks playing with Dromin. “There's a drink ban in place as well and it shows how much the players want success this year when they're willing to do that. “We're not going to get too cocky either. The boys know they have to go out and perform in every game but they've been doing that so far and I think everyone is enjoying it at the moment.

“John Flanagan has been a major influence on training since he has joined us and he's really brought the lads on. Hopefully now we can keep that going and give it a real crack this year. “We have a couple of injuries at the moment but Jason Carroll is just back in the side and Colm Doyle and PJ Tuite are on their way back so things are certainly looking up at the moment,” said Conlon.


Wednesday April 29 2009

Dundalk Democrat UP FOR THE CUPS

Up for the Cups

17

www.dundalkdemocrat.ie

Na Piarsaigh aiming to ‘do a Dreadnots’ this season

Craven hoping side can bounce back from final heartbreak last October By James Rogers NA Piarsaigh joint manager Pearse Craven admits his side would love to 'do a Dreadnots' and bounce back from a defeat in an Intermediate Championship final by winning it the following year. The Clogherhead outfit lost the 2007 decider to Dundalk Gaels before going on to win it last October with a narrow win over the Rock Road outfit in Ardee. Na Piarsaigh would love to repeat that feat this time around but Craven insists that will be easier said than done with several teams vying for the honour of lifting the Seamus Flood Cup come the end of the year. “It doesn't feel that long ago since we lost the final but that's probably a good thing,” admitted Craven, who manages the side along with Damien Shields. “It's come around very quick again and I know the lads are champing at the bit to give it another crack this year. “I know we seem to be always saying it but this is still a young side and hopefully they'll have learnt something from last year. Our oldest players are only about 28 or 29 and there's only two or three of them. After that you start going down to 21-year-olds

and 18 and 19-year-olds. “It was a blow to lose to the Dreadnots last year but then again people say you have to lose a final to win one. “Having said that, I'm in football a long time and I know we've no right to get to a final again this year. “All we can do for the moment is concentrate on the group stages before we start worrying about winning it. If you can win your group it's a great bonus to go straight through to the semi-finals but at this stage of the year it's all about getting out by whatever means possible. “Obviously we'd love to repeat what the Dreadnots done but that is easier said than done. “We've been knocking on the door now for the last couple of years. The Gaels only beat us in a replay in the semi-final two years ago and we've been runners-up in the league now for the past two seasons so we'd love to go that one step further. “At the moment though I feel like we're four or five weeks behind a lot of clubs. We had seven or eight players out at the one time with bad knocks and they're only really having a pre-season now. “It doesn't help either that we're playing the O'Connells in our first

Pearse Craven and Damien Shields will once again try to guide Na Piarsaigh into senior football for the first time this season championship opener in and I'm sure after their in Dunleer. Paul Litchfield game because they're Dunleer with a hamstring recent results they'll be is over them this year and absolutely flying at the injury but Mark Larkin is going into the game full of they're absolutely flying. moment whereas we've hit respected to recover from a confidence but so will we,” “They were unlucky last a bit of a stutter after losing hand injury to play after said Craven. year too because they were to the O Raghallaigh's on requiring four stitches at Mickey O'Kane is ruled beaten by the team who Sunday. the weekend. out of Sunday's eventually went on to win it “It'll be a big test for us

No unrealistic aims for Hunterstown Rovers boss Clifford By James Rogers IT'S 10 years since Hunterstown Rovers got their hands on the intermediate title. A decade on from making the step up to senior though and their ambitions are a lot different. Having suffered relegation to Division Three last season, the Mid-Louth men would be content to consolidate their position this season. It would be a dream for Hunterstown to mark the 10th anniversary of one of their most memorable successes with another Seamus Flood Cup. The reality is though that they are a side in transition and new manager Jim Clifford insists that he would be happy to keep Rovers in the intermediate grade

this season. “Hunterstown are a club in transition at the minute because there have been a lot of retirements and injuries in recent years,” said the experienced Kerry native. “The main aim has to be to stay up because we're probably a little vulnerable at the moment because we're a very young team but also a very small team. “We have five or six players who are doing their c o l l e g e exams at t h e

moment and we don't expect to have them back until June at the earliest so we'll be understrength for the start of the championship. “The boys that are there though have done well in the league so far and I definitely feel they're going in the right direction. “Realistically though, we'd be happy if we consolidated our position and won as many games as humanly possible.” Considering some of the problems Hunterstown have had of late, they probably couldn't have picked a better opening opponent than newly-promoted Junior champions, St Nicholas. However, despite being a regular attendee of matches the length and

breadth of the county, Clifford confessed that he knows very little about the Rathmullen men and has never seen them play. “I don't know anything about them,” he confessed. “I've never even seen them play. “I'm sure they'll be very good though. It's their first game up and they'll be out to make an impression. “Like ourselves, they'd probably be happy to stay up and I think if we did that then that would be a reasonable result for us. This is a club in transition but I'm enjoying my role with them. I said I'd give them a hand to put a structure in place and that won't just happen overnight but if we get things right now then hopefully in a couple of years we'll be able to strike for something,” said Clifford.

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30

Dundalk Democrat UP FOR THE CUPS

Junior Championship Group A Westerns

Selectors: Willie Martin and Hugh Brennan. Last season: Group stages. Key Player: Anthony Durnin. One to Watch: Dermot McArdle. Last JFC title: Never won. Hopes: With a small squad, they’ll need luck on their side to advance.

St Mochta’s

Wednesday April 29 2009

Up for the Cups

www.dundalkdemocrat.ie

Farrelly’s return could give Lannleire the edge in Group A By James Rogers

AS always the Junior Championship is one of the most difficult grades to predict with Group A being a prime example of how difficult it can be to identify a future Christy Bellew Cup winner. Four, possibly even five, of the teams in this section have the potential to go all the way. Whether they do or not often Glen Emmets depends as much on whether the commitment is there rather than Manager: Brian Carroll. the quality the side possesses. Last season: Group stages. The side who have caught the Key Player: Joey Carolan. eye most in pre-season perhaps is One to Watch: Eamon Mullen. Lannleire, who despite several Last JFC title: 1997. Hopes: Will want to improve on a injury problems have managed to disappointing campaign last year reach the Kevin Mullen Shield final and make a promising start but could surprise a few people. to the league – racing to the top of Division Three with three wins Annaghminnon Rovers from three outings. Manager: Micheal McKeown. There's been quite a turnaround Last season: Group stages. in fortunes at the Dunleer club in Key Player: Tony Martin. the space of just 12 months. One to Watch: Declan Lambe. The 2007 season was, quite Last JFC title: 2000. Hopes: Have been steadily improv- frankly, a disaster with Lannleire only registering a handful of ing of late and will be aiming to victories in the entire campaign. make the latter stages. Last season though they bounced back well to reach the Sean McDermotts final of the Junior Championship, Manager: Gerry Curran. eventually losing out to St Last season: Relegated (IFC). Nicholas on a replay in Drogheda. Key Player: Colin Curran. The progress they have made in One to Watch: James Woods. recent months seems to have Last JFC title: 1974. continued into 2009 and it is no Hopes: After last year’s relegation coincidence that Martin Farrelly's will be hoping to bounce back up. return to the club has aided their Easier said than done though. continuing development. Having played for Lannleire in a Lannleire senior final over a decade ago, the Selectors: Martin Farrelly, Thomas former Louth captain left the Dunleer outfit to join St Joseph's Martin, Aidan King. in the hunt for a coveted Joe Ward Last season: Runners-up. medal. He finally landed it in 2006 Key Player: Carlos Lambe. before seemingly hanging up his One to Watch: Alan Murphy. boots 12 months later after the Last JFC title: 1985. Hopes: After last year’s run to the Darver and Dromiskin men were final they’ll want to go one better. relegated from the senior grade. Farrelly always said he would one day like to represent his JFC Group A fixtures hometown club again and, true to Friday May 1 his word, he has returned. He is Pairc Mhuire, Ardee - 6.10pm now a player/selector and along Westerns v Glen Emmets, K Levins. with Thomas Martin and Aidan Saturday May 2 King is charged with helping The Grove, Castlebellingham - 6.10pm Lannleire go one better than last Annaghminnon Rovers v Lannleire, A McKenna. year. Pairc Sean Misteal, Ballybailie - 7.30pm So far, so good for Farrelly. He St Mochta’s v Sean McDermotts, M Craven. has made a massive difference to

Manager: Glen O’Reilly. Last season: Semi-finals. Key Player: Gervaise Marron. One to Watch: Eamon O’Neill. Last JFC title: 2004. Hopes: Having gone close in each of the past two seasons, they’ll be hoping it’s third time lucky in ‘09.

Round Two Thursday May 21 Pairc Sean Misteal, Ballybailie - 7.30pm Glen Emmets v Annaghminnon Rovers, P Burke. Saturday May 23 Pairc Mhuire, Ardee - 6.10pm Lannleire v Sean McDermotts, G Connor. Pairc Mhuire, Ardee - 7.30pm St Mochta’s v Westerns, B Brady. Round Three Sean McDermotts v Westerns. Annaghminnon Rovers v St Mochta’s. Lannleire v Glen Emmets. Round Four Westerns v Annaghminnon Rovers. St Mochta’s v Lannleire. Sean McDermotts v Glen Emmets. Round Five Annaghminnon Rovers v Sean McDermotts. Westerns v Lannleire. Glen Emmets v St Mochta’s. Dates for matches in later rounds have yet to be set.

Did you know? ONLY two clubs in the Junior Championship this season have failed to win the competition at any stage. Neither the Westerns in Group A or St Finbarrs in Group B have ever got their hands on the Christy Bellew Cup. Both sides have tasted varying degrees of success in recent years though. Reaghstown outfit the Westerns have reached a number of finals this decade, losing to Dowdallshill and, most recently, St Kevin’s in 2006. St Finbarrs, meanwhile, clinched silverware as recently as last year when they won the Division Three league.

Lannleire’s Martin Farrelly in action for St Joseph’s during his time there the club already both on and off the field. Lannleire's progress so far this season has no doubt been aided by the superb fitness levels Farrelly has helped them attain as a trainer. And while the man who made 96 appearances for his county is very much in the twilight of his career, he still has plenty of class to stand out at this level. Of course, one man does not make a team but where Lannleire could perhaps have the edge on some of their opponents is in attack. As well as Farrelly, his brother John, Paul Callan, Alan Murphy and last season's captain Carlos Lambe are all capable of putting up big scores in games while there's always a couple more who can chip in with points. With all this in mind, I reckon the Dunleer men will advance out of this group and be a tough act to stop going all the way. Of course, Lannleire won't have it all their own way and one of their biggest rivals is likely to be the Sean McDermotts. The Mountrush men were perhaps unlucky to be relegated from the Intermediate grade last season but having retained their Division Two status, they are used to playing at a higher grade. Like Lannleire, they also have plenty of players who are more than capable of taking a score at this level such as Colin Curran, Tony Kelly, James Woods and the evergreen Brendan McGahon. The McDermotts felt they were too good to go down last season. Now they have the chance to prove that. Bouncing straight back up

from a relegation setback is easier said than done, of course, but if they don't at least make it out of the group then they'll be hugely disappointed with their season. Like Lannleire too, they also possess a hugely experienced man at the helm with Clan na Gael's Gerry Curran overseeing matters in Mountrush this season. Curran has one thing over Farrelly already. He played once more for Louth with 97 appearances. By the end of the campaign he'll be hoping that's not the only bragging right he has over him. Another side playing Division Two football that are sure to fancy their chances are St Mochta's. The Louth Village men have been there or thereabouts for the last couple of seasons, losing the 2007 final to Dundalk Young Irelands before going down to eventual champions St Nicholas at the last four stage last season. Perhaps the fact they aren't one of the immediate favourites for the title this season could be an advantage for Glen O'Reilly's side. Perhaps their biggest problem in recent years has been a touch of complacency but if they get over that then they can no doubt challenge for the title. With some of the top young talents in the county such as Eamon O'Neill, Philip Englishby, Nigel Farrell and Declan Byrne being supported by seasoned pros such as Ken Meegan, Colin Hoey, and Gervaise Marron they have a nice mix in their side. Whether their youngsters are ready to make the step up and

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challenge though remains to be seen. They certainly can't be written off anyway. Another side who could be a potential dark horse are the Glen Emmets, who this season are under the guidance of former Louth Ladies manager Brian Carroll. On their day the Tullyallen men can probably beat just about anyone at this level with some good forwards at their disposal in Eamon Mullen, Eamon Taaffe, Joey Carolan and David Bracken. Their biggest problem is consistency though and they've yet to prove they can follow up a couple of good results with further good results. Much the same can be said of Annaghminnon Rovers. The Stonetown outfit are undoubtedly a side that have been improving of late and that development has been helped by the influx of a few new faces this season. Like the Glen Emmets though, consistency often lets them down as they struggle to put back-toback results together. The problem facing Annaghminnon, St Mochta's and the last side in the group – the Westerns – is that they all have the prospect of derbies ahead of them and often in those matches form goes out the window. The games between that trio could distract but if anyone can come through them with four points then they'll be in a good position to try and qualify. Prospects aren't perhaps the best for the Westerns. Having reached the final several times in recent years, including as recently as three years ago, the Reaghstown outfit have been severely hampered by a loss of personnel. There's been retirements, emigrations and even players refusing to play. All of this means that they have a small panel at their disposal and they simply cannot afford injuries or suspensions whatsoever. On their day, they could pull off a couple of shocks. Unfortunately for them though they perhaps lack the strength in depth to prolong their championship campaign too far into the summer.

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Wednesday April 29 2009

Dundalk Democrat UP FOR THE CUPS

Up for the Cups

www.dundalkdemocrat.ie

Finbarrs could be ready to really challenge for first title By James Rogers

LAST season St Finbarrs brought out a book on the club's history. It was a fine piece of work detailing everything from how the Annagassan and Togher outfit was founded to all they've achieved over the years. Unfortunately, there wasn't too much mention of silverware in it. Then a couple of months after its publication, St Finbarrs come from almost nowhere to win the Division Three title. Next Tuesday they have the chance to add the Kevin Mullen Shield. And if the kind of progress they're making at present is continued then they could well go on to claim their first Christy Bellew Cup at the end of the year too. If all that happens, there might have to be a new chapter written and the book rereleased. It might be early days in the season but the Barrs have continued the steady progress they made last year into 2009 and look a good bet to make the latter stages of the competition given their current form. Derek Walsh has done a wonderful job in his two year tenure at the club and several years of hard work at underage level by those behind the scenes finally look to be paying off. The likes of Bernard Osborne and William Woods are among two of the top youngsters in the county and will pose problems for any team at this level. The major problem now facing the Barrs is whether they can hold onto Woods in the short to long term. Having recently made his debut for Drogheda Utd in the Eircom League Premier Division, the teenager is tipped to have a big future in soccer. Losing him would be a real blow for the Barrs who look to have a nice mix of youth and experience at present with the likes of John Doyle, Martin Crosbie and Trevor Dolan

major influences in the side. Of course, the Barrs won't get anything easy in this group and one side certainly worth keeping an eye on are St Fechin's. The Beaulieu men have appointed Tony Kearney as manager for the coming year and that was undoubtedly one of the shrewdest pieces of business by a club at any grade during the close season. The Mayo native was a phenomenal success in his previous post with the Wolfe Tones in Meath, leading them to junior, intermediate and senior championships inside four seasons in a spell that yielded 20 trophies in total. His sheer presence has given the Fechin's a massive lift before a ball has even been kicked with last year's captain Harry McArdle declaring: “With a manager of Tony's calibre, we have every chance. If we can't do it this season, we have no excuse.” Results have been mixed for the Termonfeckin outfit so far but if Kearney can work his magic with a group of players that have enjoyed good progress at minor level in recent years then he could turn the Fechin's into a real threat. Despite being one of the youngest members of the team, Ronan Holcroft has already proven himself to be a prolific scorer at this level. The Fechin's did suffer a huge blow when Andy McDonnell left for the Newtown Blues over the summer but in his place arrived Anthony 'Tonto' Donaghy who, if they can get him fit and playing regularly, undoubtedly has the ability to trouble any defence at this level. Of course, there are others who will fancy their chances too. Stabannon Parnells are still in the process of rebuilding but undoubtedly have what it takes to reach the latter stages if they can continue their slow but steady progress. The Noughties has been largely a decade to forget for them as they slipped from the highest perch of Louth football

Best wishes to Annaghminnon Rovers in this years Championship

Dowdallshill

Manager: Martin Rice. Last season: Semi-finals. Key Player: Gerry McShane. One to Watch: Paul Gill. Last JFC title: 2005. Hopes: Tend to save their best for the championship but could find it tough this season.

St Finbarrs

Stabannon Parnells Manager: Enda McKeown. Last season: Quarter-finals. Key Player: Shane Sweeney. One to Watch: Eanna McCartney. Last JFC title: 1943. Hopes: This decade has largely been one to forget but they are on the up again and could challenge.

St Fechin’s Manager: Tony Kearney. Last season: Group stages. Key Player: Anthony Donaghy. One to Watch: Ronan Holcroft. Last JFC title: 1976. Hopes: Tony Kearney’s appointment is a clear signal of intent that they want to go all the way.

St Kevin’s Derek Walsh has done a fine job as St Finbarrs manager to almost its lowest point. How they'd love to enter into 2010 as an intermediate club once more. Another side who could be viewed as dark horses are St Kevin's. They've had a fine start to the year under new boss Wayne McKeever from the O'Connells. A number of fine displays in the Kevin Mullen Shield has been followed up with back-to-back league wins over the Westerns and Dowdallshill and with 2006 Christy Bellew Cup-winning captain Mark Boylan working his way back from injury they cannot be written off. They'll face the John Mitchels in the opening game and the result of that match could decide how the campaign pans out for both sides. There's a feeling that the Mitchels have a couple of good performances in the tank. Producing them in

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Junior Championship Group B

Manager: Derek Walsh. Last season: Group stages. Key Player: Bernard Osborne. One to Watch: William Woods. Last JFC title: Never won. Hopes: After last year’s league success , the Finbarrs will be hoping to challenge for the title.

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Best wishes to John Mitchells GAA in the Championship

recent years has been a problem though as they struggle with a small panel. Dowdallshill, meanwhile, have been among the top challengers at this grade in recent years but don't be surprised to see them struggle slightly this year. They've lost one of their main scorers in Noel Finnegan while another, Gerry McShane, will be missing for the early stages as he is away on honeymoon at present. Still, the St Brigid's Park outfit cannot be written off either and how they'd love to honour their former team-mate Enda Hughes with a third Christy Bellew Cup medal of the decade after his tragic passing earlier this year. I expect St Finbarrs and St Fechins to challenge for the top two spots with the remaining four battling it out for the third spot in the latter stages.

Manager: Wayne McKeever. Last season: Quarter-finals. Key Player: Liam Boylan. One to Watch: David Smith. Last JFC title: 2006. Hopes: Disappointed slightly last year but have the potential to repeat their success of 2006.

John Mitchels Selectors: Tony Melia, Barry Reilly, Carl Courtney. Last season: Group stages. Key Player: Des Halpenny. One to Watch: Carl Courtney. Last JFC title: 1998. Hopes: Need to improve on last year and can do with a good start.

JFC Group B fixtures Thursday April 30 Pairc Mochta, Louth Village - 7.30pm St Kevin’s v John Mitchels, S Thornton. Cluskey Park, Dromiskin - 7.30pm St Finbarrs v Stabannon Parnells, G McKenny. Friday May 1 McGeough Park, Haggardstown - 6.30pm St Fechins v Dowdallshill, S Johnson. Round Two Friday May 22 Pairc Sean Misteal, Ballybailie - 7.30pm Dowdallshill v St Kevin’s, L Bird. Saturday May 23 Stabannon - 6.10pm St Finbarrs v St Fechins, P Finnegan. Sunday May 24 Pairc Ui Mhuire, Dunleer - 2pm John Mitchels v Stabannon Parnells, M Boyle. Round Three Stabannon Parnells v St Fechin’s. St Kevin’s v St Finbarrs. John Mitchels v Dowdallshill. Round Four St Fechins v St Kevin’s. St Finbarrs v John Mitchels. Stabannon Parnells v Dowdallshill.

Round Five Wayne McKeever has made a St Kevin’s v Stabannon Parnells. bright start in charge of St Kevin’s St Fechins v John Mitchels. who could be a dark horse for a Dowdallshill v St Finbarrs. championship challenge Dates for matches in later rounds have yet to be set.


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Dundalk Democrat UP FOR THE CUPS

Wednesday April 29 2009

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Race for the Championship  

A look at the Louth GAA Football Championship

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