The Ulster Club Senior Football Championship quarter-finals get underway on Saturday evening at the Athletic Grounds in Armagh. Former kingpins Crossmaglen Rangers take on Tyrone champions Coalisland.
The Armagh men have been absent from the Ulster stage for a couple of years now. They are the undoubted kings of Ulster club football with 11 titles to their name, more than double any other club.
With holders Slaughtneil out of the picture it is no surprise that they are favourites to add to their tally.
Coalisland haven’t tasted success in Ulster for ten years now but are relishing their return after a county final win over Killyclogher two weeks ago.
On that day they came from behind at half-time to sweep to a convincing win. They will hope they get away to a faster start against Cross than they did in the county final when they failed to score from play in the opening half.
Crossmaglen are short odds favourites at 4/9 with Coalisland at 9/4.
If Paddy McNiece and Peter McGahan can reproduce the goalscoring form they showed against Killyclogher then this one could be a lot closer than expected.
Sunday sees the other three quarter-finals down for decision.
The big one of the three is Down champions Burren against Monaghan champions Scotstown at Pairc Esler, Newry.
Two weeks ago Burren ended Kilcoo’s great run in Down which saw them land six titles in-a-row, a feat last achieved by Burren in the 1980s. For periods of that pulsating game it looked like Kilcoo would make it seven on the trot, but a great individual display by ace forward Donal O’Hare, which yielded an impressive 2-5 over the hour, saw Paddy O’Rourke’s team to victory.
Sunday’s opponents Scotstown won their fourth consecutive Monaghan SFC title when they held off challengers Ballybay in Clones on October 7th.
A Conor McCarthy goal proved the vital score for Scotstown as they secured their fifth county title in six years.
The Monaghan men have also a win over Fermanagh champions Derrygonnelly in the Ulster Club preliminary round under their belts which should stand them in good stead. Considering they reached the Ulster final just three years ago they will have no fears of the Down men.
Scotstown start this one as 8/13 favourites with Burren at 7/4.
Newly crowned Cavan champions Castlerehan take on Derry champion Eoghan Rua Coleraine at Kingspan Breffni Park in the third of the quarter-finals.
Having come out on the wrong side in finals for the last three years Castleharen finally made it across the line two weeks ago. They came with a late burst to beat Crosserlough by 2-11 to 1-13 before 8,500 at Kingspan Breffni.
Coleraine dethroned reigning Ulster champions Slaughtneil in the quarter-final in Derry. They went on to beat Lavey in the final to clinch just their second county title and their first since 2010.
Sean McGoldrick’s men are on a roll and they will be keen to get a run in Ulster. They face the long journey to Breffni where they will meet a formidable challenge of Cavan’s new champions.
Coleraine start favourites at 4/9 while Castleharen are 9/4.
Antrim champions Cargin face a mighty task when they take on Donegal winners Gweedore at Corrigan Park Belfast.
Damian Cassidy’s charges just got over the line against parish neighbours Creggan in a low scoring county final which the Toome men just edged by 0-5 to 0-4.
They showed in the county semi-final that they are capable of hitting big scores as well when they pipped former Ireland club champions St Gall’s by 2-17 to 4-10 in an epic game.
Gweedore won their first county title in twelve years when they beat Naomh Conaill in the final by 0-17 to 1-7 win. County star Ódhrán MacNiallais put in a Man of the Match performance.
The Donegal men are no strangers to playing on Antrim soil after winning the Creggan Under 21 tournament back in February. A good sprinkling of that team will be on show at Corrigan on Sunday.
Gweedore start as favourites in this one at 2/7 while Cargin are 10/3.