By John ” Curly” McIlwaine
“Scotstown and Crossmaglen look favourites to advance”
Scotstown’s bid to reach their first Ulster Senior Club championship final in three years sees them take on Derry champions Eoghan Rua Coleraine on Sunday in Omagh. The Monaghan champions haven’t won the title since they beat Tyrone champions Coalisland in the final back in 1989. They came close three years ago when running Armagh kingpins Armagh close in the decider.
This game is a bit of a family affair with Scotstown’s captain Darren Hughes set to come up against two of his brother-in-laws Barry and Paul Dary, and there is even a third one, Eoin Daly on the panel for good measure. Darren’s wife is Orlagh is of course a Coleraine woman and her loyalties will be very much divided on Sunday.
Eoghan Rua caused a bit of a sensation when they beat reigning Derry and Ulster champions Slaughtneil in the quarter final and since then they have gone on to beat Lavey in the final. In their Ulster quarter final they had two goals to spare over Castleharen of Cavan and go into Sunday’s game in confident mood.
Scotstown won their fourth Monaghan title in row this season and are a formidable outfit, but it will all mean very little if they fail once again to make an impact in Ulster. They were untroubled when sweeping aside the challenge of Fermanagh champions Derrygonnelly in the preliminary round but their win over Down champions Burren in the quarter final marked them out as real contenders. It is three years since they last made the decider and they will fancy of their chances of takin that step on Sunday.
The second semi-final sees the undoubted kings of Ulster club football Crossmaglen take on Donegal champions Gweedore. Cross have lifted the title on eleven occasions, more than double that of their nearest rivals. They are being tipped in many quarters to go all the way this time around. They certainly didn’t have things their own way in their quarter final win over Tyrone’s Coalisland. Just getting through by two points but their record in the competition means they will go into Sunday’s game as favourites.
Gweedore won their first Donegal title in twelve years this season and they have a wealth of young talent coming through to take their places alongside club legends like the McGee brothers Eamon and Neill, plus Kevin Cassidy and Christopher McFadden.
In their quarter final they beat Antrim champions Cargin at Corrigan Park and while they were most impressive in the first half of that game, opening up a ten point lead at the break. They were poor in the second and were holding on a little at the last before winning by four. If they can repcapture that first half form then they are in with a great chance of booking a place in the final for the first time. However, if they are as hesitant and disjointed as they were in the second period then Cross will punish them.