November 9th, 2018

Ulster GAA Club Finals Preview

Hurling takes centre stage in Ulster GAA this weekend with all three club finals down for decision.

In the Senior final at the Athletic Grounds in Armagh, Antrim champions Ruairi Og play Ballycran of Down in what promises to be a close and hard-fought encounter.

Ballycran caused a real shock when they beat reigning champions Slaughtneil in the semi-final at Corrigan Park two weeks ago. The rank outsiders produced a devastating display of hurling to beat the 3-in-a-row chasing Derry champions by ten points and set up a final meeting with Cushendall.

The sides last met in an Ulster final 25 years ago. The Down champions upset the odds as they beat the Antrim champions by 2-10 to 0-12 at Casement Park, their last success at provincial level.

Cushendall had a tough task getting out of Antrim this season. They needed a second bite of the cherry before getting over the challenge of St John’s in the semi-final.

With Loughgiel beating holders Dunloy in the other semi-final they went into the final as slight favourites. However, Cushendall came out on top as they recorded their first final win over the Shamrocks since 2008.

Despite their win over holders Slaughtneil, Ballycran go into Sunday’s game as 10/3 outsiders with Cushendall favourites at 2/9.

The hero of their Antrim semi-final and final wins Conor Carson not available it is unlikely to be as clear cut as that.

 

In the Intermediate final between Antrim champions St Gall’s and Armagh top guns Keady at Pairc Esler in Newry, the Belfast men start as favourites at 4/7 while Keady are 13/8.

St Gall’s had to go to extra time before getting past the challenge of Derry representatives Swatragh. They certainly didn’t have it all their own way in the quarter-final where they were pushed hard by Fermanagh champions Lisbellaw.

Keady had two points to spare over Eoghan Rua Dungannon in their quarter-final but were much more emphatic winners in the semis where they accounted for Down champions Leitrim by 3-14 to 0-12.

 

The Junior final which acts as a curtain raiser to the Cushendall v Ballycran game in Armagh.

Cushendun will play Monaghan champions Castleblayney in a game that throws in at 1pm.

Castleblayney have a lot of experience at this level and last won the trophy back in 2014 when they beat Derry champions Na Magha.

Cushendun are new boys in the competition having won their first Antrim junior title for over twenty years. They have a good blend of youth and experience and will be fancied to go all the way.