There are three big games down for decision this weekend in the senior ranks. On Friday night in Cusack Park C/F/C/W take on Killucan in the relegation play-off. Both sides have been affected by missing players all year and were likely candidates for this fixture from a long way out.
Killucan reached a semi-final in recent years and their greater experience at this level should be enough to see them cling on. C/F/C/W are reported to have been boosted by the return of a number of last year’s squad so it will be tight but it may not be enough to see them avoid a quick return to intermediate ranks.
On Sunday, Moate is the venue for the first quarter-final where Tyrrellspass will be most people’s favourites to account for Athlone. Tyrrellspass manager Tom Coffey will know Athlone only too well having managed us last year. The former Rhode manager was well respected during his spell here but his presence on the opposition line will be another motivating factor for us.
There is no doubt that Tyrrellspass have plenty of quality and that the likes of the Glennons, Ger Egan, and Martin Flanagan will take watching. Their form to date has been better than ours but that will count for little on Sunday.
From here on it is an old-style knockout championship and if we can replicate the form we showed in the final quarter against Bunbrosna for an hour then we’re in with a great chance. Tyrrellspass/Athlone games are usually entertaining and while many will say it’s blind optimism, I firmly believe we can cause an upset and book a semi-final spot. Time will tell.
Also on Sunday the ‘battle of the ‘Castles’ takes place as neighbours Garrycastle and Castledaly contest the play-off for third spot. In previous years Garrycastle would get the nod without hesitation but it is not quite so black and white just now.
There is no denying that Garrycastle are not the force they were and mounting injuries mean they are more vulnerable now than at any stage over the past decade. Paddy Mulvihill, Doran Harte, and Aidan Browne have all been affected by injury in recent times as has Gary Dolan.
It is likely that James Dolan will be eligible to play having summered in Boston and he will be a big boost while Gary Dolan should also be fit to tog on Sunday. Last weekend’s game highlighted how reliant they are on Dessie for scores and Castledaly will have to limit his influence if they are to cause an upset.
Castledaly’s cause has not been helped by the return of Tommy Warburton to the States and the suspension of Gordon Duffy. With that said Castledaly are a solid unit capable of running up a score. I expect them to ask serious questions of Garrycastle but the town side’s knack of winning tight games might be enough to see them through to yet another semi-final.