There are just two teams in the Intermediate Championship with full points from their games so far. Group A is led by Foreglen and Banagher, though the St. Mary’s have played a game more, and Group B by Greenlough. Foreglen and Banagher have eight points from four and fives games played respectively, followed by Drumsurn on six points with Limavady on four. Faughanvale are on a disappointing two with Lissan and Craigbane both on a single point. In Group B Desertmartin and holders, Glenullin, are both on six, Castledawson have four while Claudy and Slaughtmanus have both suffered four defeats.
Group A: Faughanvale v Limavady (Sat, 3.30pm, Ref: Declan O’Connor)
Faughanvale have two draws from their four games and visiting Limavady Wolfhounds two wins. The ‘Vale have been held to a home draw by a Lissan team that Limavady beat by 16 points. That might point to a Limavady win here but given that the Wolfhounds lost three key players to injury in that Lissan victory, it might throw a different light on the outcome of this game. Cormac Quigley, Sean Deehan and Ruari Hassan are doubtful starters and their absence could be the critical factor.
Faughanvale have the players to be stronger than they currently are but presently they seem to lack a bit of leadership. Given Limavady’s injury problems they might nick a vital win and if they do they will hope it acts as a springboard to better things.
Banagher v Foreglen (Sunday, 2pm, Ref: Cathal Doherty)
This is the game of the day at intermediate level and one that should be well worth a visit the Fr. McNally Park. Foreglen have put a poor league behind them to turn on the brilliance and win all four to date with skill and style. Banagher suffered a surprise defeat against Drumsurn but that apart they had won their other three games with a bit to spare, the latest Wednesdays’s 1-17 to 0-05 victory over Lissan, and will certainly be among the contenders in a very open championship.
The sheer pace of this Foreglen team on the flanks will trouble Banagher but in the central positions the Feeny men look stronger. Gavin O’Neill and Tiarnan Moore have been troubling defences with their pace and finishing but there is no doubt that Foreglen manager Paddy Downey will have plans for them. These parish rivals should serve up a game to remember and in the big Banagher pitch the pace and cohesion of Foreglen may see victory number five. This one will be very close but don’t be surprised to see a bit of cat and mouse by both!
Drumsurn v Craigbane (Sunday, 2pm, Ref: Caolan McDonald)
Craigbane have found the step up to intermediate level a difficult one and can expect no favours when they make the trip to Billy Doran Park on Sunday afternoon. Drumsurn, last year’s beaten finalists, have hit top form again now that their injury problems are almost over. That win over Banagher was a victory that made people sit up and take notice that the St. Matthew’s have not gone away.
Craigbane sit at the bottom of the group with a point gained from a draw with Faughanvale. They are heavily reliant on full forward Lee Moore for scores while the hosts look more potent up front with Ruairi Rafferty, Shea Murray and Tiarnan McHugh all capable of taking half chances. It is hard to see past a Drumsurn victory.
Group B: With just six teams in this group the upcoming round completes the qualifiers and already the four teams in the knockout stages are Greenlough, Desertmartin, Glenullin and Castledawson. As the pointless pair of Claudy and Slaughtmanus cannot overtake fourth placed Castledawson, this round will be all about jockeying for positions as the top team will play the fourth in the other group and second will play third.
Slaughtmanus v Claudy (Thursday, 7pm, Ref: Mervyn McAleese)
Claudy currently have two players suspended and if the appeals by Jamie Brown and Oran Armstrong fail it will make their task very difficult. Both teams have endured a torrid season and for them the next problem will be facing into a relegation battle. It is a semi local derby which will add a bit of spark to the game. Claudy will be slight favourites.
Greenlough v Glenullin (Sunday, 2pm, Ref: Aidan Mc Aleer)
Holders Glenullin will be hoping to bounce back from their heavy defeat by Desertmartin when they travel to unbeaten Greenlough. The ‘Lough have improved under new manager Jude Donnelly but rumour has it that there is a fitness doubt over top forward Niall Loughlin.
Glenullin had defeated Claudy, Slaughtmanus and Castledawson prior to the bad day at Desertmartin so they will be desperate for a win going into the quarter finals. Greenlough will want to keep their winning un going but a lot could depend on the fitness of their star man.
Castledawson v Desertmartin (Sunday, 2pm, Ref: Gavin Hegarty)
League winners Castledawson have not carried their form into the championship. Both their wins have come against the bottom two, Claudy and Slaughtmanus. They came up short against Glenullin and Greenlough. Following their impressive win over Glenullin this lively Desertmartin team will be out to prove that they are real title contenders. They won two junior titles in the last four years and they will be hoping to follow up at intermediate level. Castledawson are an experienced outfit with top class forwards in Dara O‘Kane and Niall McNicholl. With both already in the knockout stages the team that wants it most will get the points.