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Calling the shots: Ulster Senior Football Championship previews

By John Campbell

ULSTER SENIOR FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP

MONAGHAN V FERMANAGH

(Tomorrow, Healy Park,

Omagh 2.00pm)

MONAGHAN certainly bring imposing credentials to the table for this encounter with their neighbours.

They charted an impressive course in Division One of the league before dismantling Tyrone’s ambitions of winning a third successive Ulster title.

Fermanagh gained promotion to Division Three and impressed against Armagh in their championship quarter-final but Monaghan may carry too much experience for them. And in Conor McManus, the Farney county possess a match-winner supreme.

VERDICT: Monaghan.

ULSTER U20 FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP

DERRY V DONEGAL

(Tomorrow, Healy Park, Omagh 11.45am)

DONEGAL looked very sharp and cohesive in beating Cavan by 2-21 to 0-10 and in Niall O’Donnell they boast one of the best young forwards in the province.

Manager Gary McDaid appears to have instilled a strong level of self-belief within the side and this will certainly be required against a Derry outfit that includes several players who have made their mark at minor level under the baton of current senior boss Damian McErlain.

VERDICT: Donegal.

CONNACHT SENIOR FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP

SLIGO V

GALWAY

(Tomorrow, Pearse Stadium, Salthill 3.30)

TYRONE native Cathal Corey certainly has an immense task on his hands as Sligo manager in this one. The Kildress man helped to keep the Yeats county in Division Three of the league, a feat in itself considering their poor start, but now he must pit his wits against Galway boss Kevin Walsh in what is very much a David v Goliath contest. Sligo may have acquired more cohesion and vibrancy under Corey, but their chances of coming out on top would be slim in the extreme.

VERDICT: Galway

AlLL-IRELAND HURLING CHAMPIONSHIP JOE McDONAGH CUP

WESTMEATH V ANTRIIM

(Today, Cusack Park, Mullingar 3.00pm)

TWO wins and a defeat to date still leave a vision of silverware on the horizon for the Saffrons but the loss of Joe Maskey and Michael Armstrong to season-ending injuries is still being acutely felt as the side strives to move on.

They will come up against a Westmeath which has been hovering outside the top bracket for some years and is capable of turning in the occasional convincing performance in tandem with their more traditional workmanlike displays. If the Antrim rearguard, which is bolstered by considerable experience, remains vigilant then the prospects of the team advancing in the competition will be enhanced assuming impressive duo Nigel Elliott and Neil McManus are on form in terms of their combined finishing powers.

VERDICT: Antrim

ALL-IRELAND HURLING CHAMPIONSHIP CHRISTY RING CUP

ARMAGH v LONDON

(Today, Athletic

Grounds, 1.00 pm)

ARMAGH have not been enjoying the best of fortune lately, the recent departure of manager Paddy Kelly, a Meath native, just another difficult burden the county has had to bear.

London in contrast have looked lively and enterprising and have been totting up some impressive scores. It’s hard to see the orchard county turning the corner in this one. The team has struggled to find any real rhythm in the competition but it certainly does not lack courage or tenacity.

VERDICT: London

DERRY V DOWN

(Today, Watty Graham Park, Glen 1.00pm)

DOWN have looked impressive to date and appear to have strong resources up front.

Derry have not quite been at full-strength and this will be the case again today.

They could find the going difficult particularly if Martin Mallon’s side manage to get their noses in front. In Danny Toner and Paul Sheehan they have players who can punish opponents assuming they are afforded a liberal supply of possession and this could prove to be the case today.

VERDICT: Down

NICKY RACKARD CUP

LEITRIM V TYRONE

(Today, Carrick-on-Shannon, 3.00pm)

LEITRIM may be regarded as minnows but they are capable of lifting their game on occasions.

They will face a Tyrone side that has fallen from grace somewhat but still possess one of the best finishers in the sport in the consistent Damien Casey. If he is on song today, then the Red Hands should pocket a victory.

VERDICT: Tyrone

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