Cavan Gaels (@1.06) vs Cootehill (@8.0)
25-08-2019

Our Prediction:

Cavan Gaels will win

Cavan Gaels – Cootehill Match Prediction | 25-08-2019

Three championships have passed since and under the management of Leitrim native George Dugdale, progress has been made, with the club qualifying for the semi-final of the Intermediate Championship last year for the first time since the late 1970s. The return of former Cavan stalwart Feargal Flanagan has been a huge boost. He is the fulcrum of the side and is well supported around the middle by the classy John Fitzpatrick, a quality ball-player who is always good for a few scores. Their recent league campaign was up and down a terrific opening day win in Killinkere followed by a loss to Drumlane, a victory over Lavey and three winless matches before they strung four wins together and, status secured, finished with two defeats. The Leddy brothers, Jonny and Killian, are both out injured with back and knee (cruciate) injuries which is a blow as both are exceptionally skilful footballers. O'Reilly's brawn is needed because if there is one area in which the Bridge are lacking it is in terms of physique. The return of Caoimhin O'Reilly, who missed out due to injury and county commitments for most of the league (bagging a hat-trick in the only match he played, against Cornafean) should have a transformative effect on the attack. ButlersbridgeThe Bridge have been threatening a major breakthrough for a few years now, having first emerged as a 'coming team' when rattling eventual winners Ballyhaise in 2015. Their first round match is against Ramor United's second string, who will, naturally, be something of an unknown quantity but there is potential in this side, as they showed when toppling Arva to make the last four in 2018. Patrick Flynn has been doing well at full-back with Peter Conaty now on free-taking duties.

CornafeanHaving won the Junior Championship in 2016, Cornafean's aim would have been to consolidate in the higher grade and they have managed that in the last two seasons.In 2017, they made the quarter-finals but last year, they ended up in a relegation play-off, recording an impressive win over Ballyhaise which saved their status.This time around, the aim will have been to make further progress although league form was hit and miss. Only three teams in Division 2 conceded more, with the concession of goals a problem area (in five of their 13 games, they leaked two or more).That said, there are reasons to be optimistic.

BallymachughUnder the management of former Crosserlough selector Raymond Reilly, the Hughs have already achieved this year's core objective by topping Division 3 and gaining automatic promotion. The return of former county man Liam Buchanan to the middle of the field has allowed James Smith and Mark Kiernan to supplement the attack along with Padraig Galligan (above). The Hughs have a bye in the first round of the championship. Ballymachugh made the breakthrough at Junior Championship level in 2017 but had a poor enough campaign last year. This term, they appear to have their mojo back, losing just once (away to Drumgoon) in the regular league before falling to the same side in last Sundays final. The introduction of minor stars Darragh Sheridan, Patrick Goldrick and Ryan Smith has offset the loss of Dillon and Darragh Kiernan to travel and injury respectively. In the championship they will look to consolidate their intermediate status but are more than capable of causing a shock or two on this year's league form.

@cavangaelsGFC

Their league campaign in the top flight started poorly. Laragh UnitedLaragh have been building with a young team for a few years now and have been knocking on the door at intermediate level. In 2017, Laragh again lost by the minimum, this time to eventual winners Shercock in the quarter-final while last year, they were beaten by two points in the semi-final by Cuchulainns. A narrow loss to Castlerahan was followed by an away success in Cootehill (not an easy place to go, with the Gaels, Lacken, Kingscourt and Gowna all failing to win there) and another in Mullahoran. They began their season with three defeats, had a good win over Kingscourt and then lost three more and seemed to be heading for relegation but their revival started with a fantastic 2-16 to 2-15 victory over Cavan Gaels five weeks ago. In 2016, they were beaten by a point in the semi-final by Killinkere, who themselves lost by the final by the same margin after a replay against Arva. Playing in Division 1 will stand to them and they are expected to make a bold bid for championship honours. MacRory Cup medallist Fergal ORourke is one of the top goalkeepers around while wing-backs Lee Reilly and Ian Leddy love to bomb forward. On the evidence of those results, they have been very close and that feeling was underpinned when they gained promotion to Division 1 of the ACFL for this year. Shane ORourke and Fergal McKenna form a physically powerful midfield with the likes of Paul Smith and the tall, rangy and athletic Jack McKenna among the stand-outs in a mobile front six. They say the table does not lie but in this case, its certainly telling fibs. Laraghs slow start was a result of a horrendous injury list; as players began to return to the fold, performances picked up and results followed. The current side, under former Meath star Jody Devine, is a well-balanced one.

At midfield, Christopher Dunne has been superb, with Rhys Clarke, Luke Gilsenan and Gary Daly very impressive up front. Last year, they had a big win over eventual champions Mullahoran in the group stages before losing to Laragh in a replayed quarter-final and they will be aiming to go a couple of steps better this time round. A club with their history, tradition and population base should be in senior ranks and they are putting in an almighty effort to get there. The mystifying collapse in their form in recent weeks does not inspire confidence, however. In a wide open championship, it is certainly not beyond the bounds of possibility that the Shamrocks would go a long way. While Alan O'Mara is currently in America, the defence has been settled with Philip Clarke and Sean Cooney excelling. Don't rule them out! A number of players have been in outstanding form. After a slow start in which they lost two of their first three games against Shercock and Killinkere, they won eight of their next nine, culminating in victories over Ballyhaise and Swanlinbar in which they hit a cumulative total of 10-26. BailieboroughThe Shamrocks have been building incrementally for the last few seasons. They open their championship campaign against the same opponents in Cootehill, a match which should tell us a lot more about both teams. Four points up at half-time in New Inns against Lavey and a return to the top flight after 15 years away beckoning, they conceded four goals in the second half and lost and then Ballyhaise, whom they had beaten by 13 points three weeks earlier, thumped them in the resulting play-off. Gilsenan has missed out of late due to injury but is nearing a return while county man Michael Argue, who has played just one full game and didn't see much game time with Cavan, is also close to full fitness and will be a massive addition when he is.

It's also worth noting, however, that a draw will do both sides nicely and stalemates have a way of happening in such scenarios. As Ballinagh's Padraic O'Reilly noted at a pre-championship final chat night a couple of years back, when a team has Kingscourt beaten, they have a mighty day's work done. For all their physical power and big game nous, they may find that Crosserlough have just too much speed about them. It's thus difficult to make a confident prediction about a side who are capable of such inconsistent levels of performance. They are physically strong up the centre - Joe Dillon was a revelation last Friday - and are a very difficult side to beat in championship football regardless of the form lines. Kingscourt v CrosserloughSun, 3pm, BailieboroughCrosserlough have shown glimpses of form that suggest they are dark horses to make the final or even win this competition outright. Kingscourt will pose a different challenge. That said, they are certainly lacking a bit of guile up front, Barry Reilly aside. At their best, they are a hell of a side and word from Down is that Burren were extremely impressed by their pace and skills when they met in a recent challenge. Not that we are suggesting any impropriety of any sort but when games are level in the dying seconds, both teams can be content with their lot and become risk-averse. But yet, they have slumped alarmingly at times, too, not least against Cootehill when they lost by a point and last weekend, when they went 10 up after 24 minutes against Ballinagh and ended up fighting for their lives in the second half. This is a big test for Darragh McCarthy's young side and will tell us a lot about their title credentials but, for now, anything is possible.

The talented Evan Doughty, whose hamstring injury was a big blow in last year's final, is the go-to man in attack with the powerful Bryan Magee as usual a forceful presence around the middle and oustanding on frees. To win this championship for the fourth time in the club's history, they will have to tighten up at the back but any side with firepower up top and plenty of experience has to be respected. CuchulainnsInconsistency was Cuchulainns' problem in the league but there is no doubting their talent, particularly in attack. They stormed to the final of the Intermediate Championship last year and were well in the game before Mullahoran ran away with it in the final quarter.This year, under the management of Michael Tynan, they have been excellent at times and poor at others, as shown by the fact that they finished fifth in the table while managing to beat two of the teams ranked above them in Killinkere and Lavey and draw with another (Ballyhaise).Eugene Keating has retired and Adam O'Reilly has opted out but the attack remains potent, with teenagers Sean and Michel Kenny showing promise. Adrian Taite is another who can be relied upon when the chips are down while David Carolan has recovered from a cruciate ligament injury and brings a real goal threat and Conor Smith is always a handful.At the back, options are not as plentiful.

Their single victory this year was against Cornafean on an evening when talisman Gearoid McKiernan scored 0-10. They shipped 27 three-pointers in last years All-County Football League (13 games) and another 13 in five championship matches, bringing the total to 40 in 18 matches. They will be targeting the opening game against Drumlane as one where they could pick up points but their defensive record will have to improve greatly if they are to go deep in the draw. He, along with Cliftonville soccer star Chris Curran, will once again be crucial to their hopes. That trend continued this year. There is plenty of ability in this Swanlinbar team and they have traditionally been able to lift their game for championship. SwanlinbarSwad found themselves rooted to the bottom of Division 2 of the league after just one win in their 13 matches. If they can get everyone on the pitch, they will be no pushovers. One clean sheet a league game against Butlersbridge last year and 72 goals conceded in 29 games makes for ugly reading and puts serious pressure on the team to post a big score at the other end. In the 11 fixtures the St Marys fulfilled in Division 2 of the league, they conceded 32 goals. Injuries were an issue and, worryingly, they continued to leak goals at an alarming rate.

The top 2 in each group progress to the Quarter-Finals while the bottom placed team in each group enter a Relegation Playoff with 3 teams to be relegated to the 2017 I.F.C. For the 2016 season the S.F.C. The 16 clubs will be divided into 4 groups of 4 with 2 teams in each group to be seeded. will take a Group stage progressing to a knock-out stage format rather than the back-door system used in previous years. This will leave 14 clubs to participate in the 2017 S.F.C.

Please pass the word along. This years associated charity is Cavan Down Syndrome a very worthy cause. There is loads of information on our Facebook page as well as the Rs Spraoi page https://www.facebook.com/ras.spraoiincluding the routes for both 5k and 10k. The time is fast approaching and competitors can register online using the link http://www.active.com/cavan-cavan/running/distance-running-races/5k-and-10k-r-s-sprao-2017?cmp=23-126. Closing date for online registrations is this Friday at 6.00 P.M. Rs SpraoiThis years annual Rs Spraoi 5k/10k takes place this Sunday 10th September.

Their wins against Swanlinbar and Butlersbridge in the last two rounds of the league marked the first time they put back-to-back victories together, with their patchy form reading LWLWLWDLLWW.However, when evaluating the championship, an asterisk can be placed beside this form as the Rorys have been able to peak when it matters in recent years. They have consistently performed well in the Intermediate Championship, only failing to make the knock-out stages once in the last four renewals.Belturbet lost narrowly to eventual winners Arva in the 2015 semi-final, were beaten by a point after a replay against Ballyhaise in the 2017 semi-final and lost out in a replayed quarter-final against would-be champions Mullahoran last year.They have lots of experience in the likes of veterans Kevin McConnell and Eoin McGuigan while they have brought through a wave of talented young players of late, including Fionan O'Reilly among others.Conal McGinley has emerged as an outstanding player with an eye for a score while Enda Henry, a very accurate freetaker, is consistently among the highest scorers in the county.Throw into the mix team captain Brendan Fitzpatrick up front and Cavan U20 midfielder Cormac Donohoe and they have quite a potent mix. Manager: John CunninghamStar man: Gearoid McKiernanLast year: Group stageBelturbet The Rorys finished seventh in Division 2 with six wins, five losses and two draws and struggled for consistency at times.