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Declan Bogue calls the shots on weekend Gaelic fixtures


Peter Canavan

Peter Canavan

?INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Peter Canavan

Ulster Senior Club Football Championship: St Eunan's (Donegal) v Roslea Shamrocks (Fermanagh) Sunday, Ballybofey, 2.30pm

This week, former Donegal player John Haran turned 38. A stalwart of St Eunan's for over two decades, he won his first ever Man of the Match award in the Donegal final as they got the better of Glenswilly in a typically dour struggle that has come to characterise club football in the north west.

You don't expect to be winning Championships at the age of 38, but that summarises all that is to be admired about St Eunan's. As a large town team if can be difficult to keep players focused and interested long enough to win those titles, especially given how the Donegal Championship was delayed until after the All-Ireland final.

But they have quality in their ranks and a number of players who have played inter-county, such as Kevin Rafferty and Conall Dunne.

Rory Kavanagh is the driving force from midfield and Marc 'Maxi' Curran, although a young manager, has been around enough successful set-ups to appreciate what works and what does not.

Roslea are no wetbacks coming into this competition. They have taken their beatings in the past and have spoken of their frustration of allowing Glenswilly to edge past them in the Ulster semi-final last year through a lack of concentration and a predictable gameplan.

Their manager Mark Harte is well briefed in the strengths and abilities of St Eunan's, having taken in a number of games in recent weeks.

However, having landed the league title against Derrygonnelly a fortnight ago, Roslea could struggle here without the accuracy of Sean Quigley.

In their league semi-final he sustained an injury that was originally thought to be a cruciate rupture, but subsequent scans have revealed it is not quite so severe.

He might play some part, but his partial absence could rob them one of their greatest strengths. And you need those away from home in the Ulster club.

VERDICT: St Eunan's

Ulster Senior Club Football Championship

Slaughtneil Emmet's (Derry) v Cavan Gaels (Cavan)

Sunday, Owenbeg, 2.30pm

There are few teams quite as battle-hardened this winter as Slaughtneil, given their exploits on the hurling and football fields.

However, this has come at a cost with full-back Brendan Rogers ruled out of action this weekend for the meeting with Cavan Gaels, managed by Peter Canavan.

The Derry champions are strong favourites for this, as any club that emerges from the ultra-competitive domestic championship should be.

In Ulster, Cavan Gaels have always been a bit of an enigma. For a team that have exercised such dominance in their backyard they have never delivered a statement win in their campaigns, nor even remotely threatened to win the tournament.

A few weeks back, Peter Canavan won his first club championship as manager. He has a whole load of talent at the club such as Conor McClarey, Robert Maloney-Derham, Eamonn Reilly, and up front they have Seanie Johnstone back rediscovering his love for the game and Martin Dunne.

They also have Canavan's long-time trainer Kieran Donnelly putting them through their paces. For them to congratulate themselves on winning another Cavan title at this stage and not go any further would go against Canavan's natural ambition.

Last weekend was characterised by shock results. This could be the one this week, with the Gaels priced at 13/8.

VERDICT: Cavan Gaels

Ulster Intermediate Club Football Championship

Castledawson (Derry) v Cloughaneely/Buncrana (Donegal) Sunday, Owenbeg, 12.45pm

The winners of today's Donegal Intermediate final between Cloughaneely and Buncrana will play Derry champions Castledawson less than 24 hours later.

This is the end game for choosing to mothball club championships. Donegal had a more extreme case than any other county, and every county manager might have preferred to have had this luxury, but why should it be that one of the greatest days in a club's recent history has to take place under such hurried circumstances?

In the Donegal final, Buncrana are sweating over the fitness of talented teenager Darach 'Jigger' O'Connor, who only seven weeks ago was starting an All-Ireland final.

Cloughaneely are competing at this level following relegation last year and are strong favourites as a result, having convincingly beat the fancied Fanad Gaels in the semi-final.

That will leave them facing Castledawson in the Ulster quarter-final, throwing in at 12.45pm the following day in Owenbeg.

Of course, by then Castledawson manager Willie McAleer will have got a good look at the Donegal final, with the knowledge that they will be facing a tired team.

Which makes this result a no-brainer.

VERDICT: Castledawson

Belfast Telegraph