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Big guns ready to fire as club battles reach thrilling climax

By Joe Kernan

Some county championships may be still in their infancy but already it would seem that a number of the traditional big guns are destined to sample more success in their respective counties.

Burren and Kilcoo are looking particularly strong in Down with Kevin McKernan and Donal O'Hare on fire for Burren while for the reigning champions Conor Lavery and Paul Devlin are currently doing the business in style.

Benny Coulter continues to serve a Mayobridge side keen to return to the top again while Aidan Carr's return to fitness is proving a bonus for Clonduff.

In Fermanagh, it is most encouraging to see Ederney making a strong push for the county title.

Martin McGrath has served both club and county with distinction for a long number of years at midfield and there is a feeling that his side could go all the way to the title this year although Derrygonnelly, Roslea and Belcoo – all of whom have reached the last four – will have something to say about that, no doubt.

In Armagh, the quarter-final stages have been reached with Crossmaglen Rangers, currently without several key players for a variety of reasons, gearing up to take on their great city rivals Pearse Og.

Maghery, Carrickcruppen, Granemore, Ballymacnab, St Patrick's and Sarsfields are also all through to the last eight.

And it's very much a case of the old guard also coming to the fore once again in Antrim.

Perennial champions St Gall's suffered a minor fright before accounting for Moneyglass in their quarter-final while Cargin overcame Lamh Dhearg by 2-11 to 1-09.

St Brigid's have maintained their recent consistency by also reaching the last four as have St Paul's.

But the latter side face a massive semi-final battle against title favourites St Gall's.

In Derry, Ballinderry Shamrocks are showing fine form and their mix of youth and experience with players like Conleith Gilligan, Colin Devlin, Raymond Wilkinson, Ryan Scot and Ryan Bell augurs well for their prospects of claiming the trophy again.

It is no great surprise to see Cavan Gaels and Gowna making their pitch for the Breffni title again with old warhorse Mark McKeever very much the driving force for the latter side.

And in Monaghan, Scotstown, Monaghan Harps, Clontibret, Castleblayney, Latton and Ballybay are among the sides that fancy their chances of picking up the coveted silverware.

Scotstown – with Hughes brothers Ciaran and Darren to the fore – look to be in a good position but Monaghan Harps, who include county ace Neil McAdam in their line-up, have the capacity to emerge as a surprise packet in what could prove one of the most interesting of all the county championships.

Belfast Telegraph


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