Abbeylara, Clonguish and Mullinalaghta will clash in the group stage of the 2011 Senior Football Championship and some other interesting games are in prospect after the various draws were made at the County Board meeting in Aras Ui Bhriain, Pearse Park on Monday night last.
St. Columba’s, of course, sprang a shock when knocking the then title holders Clonguish out of the Connolly Cup last year but the Mullinalaghta men could be hard pressed to qualify for the quarter-finals with Abbeylara also standing in their way.
These neighbouring clubs have enjoyed a lot of success in comprising the Northern Gaels amalgamation at underage level for the past number of years and completing the difficult Group 4 are Ardagh St. Patrick’s who are almost certain to find the going too tough in a fierce battle to avoid relegation to the Intermediate Championship.
Dromard, the beaten finalists for the past two years, will be hoping to go one step further in 2011 with Sean Hagan still in charge and will renew rivalry against neighbours Colmcille in Group 2 which also contains Ballymahon and Rathcline.
Reigning champions Longford Slashers, again managed by Denis Connerton, would appear to have received a kind draw in Group 1 and will be fancied to get the better of Cashel, Fr. Manning Gaels and the 2010 Intermediate winners Carrickedmond but the battle for the other quarter-final spot could be very intriguing indeed.
Mostrim and Killoe (the Young Emmets again coached by former Leitrim star Seamus Quinn) will clash in Group 3 and look the prime contenders to qualify for the knock-out stages at the expense of Granard St. Mary’s and Sean Connolly’s, one of whom are probably destined to relinquish their senior status this season.
16 clubs will compete in the 2011 Senior Football Championship which will initially operate on a league round-robin basis consisting of four groups with the eventual top two teams in each group qualifying for the quarter-finals. The 2010 Connolly Cup semi-finalists – Longford Slashers, Dromard, Abbeylara and Mostrim– were seeded and placed into each of the four groups as were the 2010 quarter-finalists Mullinalaghta St. Columba’s, Killoe Young Emmets, Rathcline and Cashel. Separate draw will be made for 2011 quarter-final pairings. Teams in the same group cannot meet at this stage of the Senior Championship while the group winners and runners-up will be kept apart, i.e. placed in separate bowls to determine the last eight line-up.
Semi-Finals: Winner of Quarter-Final 1 v Winner of Quarter-Final 4; Winner of Quarter-Final 2 v Winner of Quarter-Final 3.
In the event of teams finishing on the same number of points in the group, scores difference (or a play-off if required) will apply to determine who advances to the knock-out stages.
The bottom team in each group will be automatically relegated into the Intermediate Championship for 2012. The third placed teams in each group will play-off (two semi-finals and a final) with the losing team set to relinquish their senior status if the 2011 Intermediate champions decide to move up into the top flight.
2011 Senior Championship
Draw - Group Stages
Round 1: Longford Slashers v Cashel; Fr. Manning Gaels v Carrickedmond
Round 2: Carrickedmond v Longford Slashers; Cashel v Fr. Manning Gaels
Round 3: Longford Slashers v Fr. Manning Gaels; Carrickedmond v Cashel
Round 1: Dromard v Rathcline; Ballymahon v Colmcille
Round 2: Colmcille v Dromard; Rathcline v Ballymahon
Round 3: Dromard v Ballymahon; Colmcille v Rathcline
Round 1: Mostrim v Killoe Young Emmets; Granard St. Mary’s v Sean Connolly’s
Round 2: Sean Connolly’s v Mostrim; Killoe Young Emmets v Granard St. Mary’s
Round 3: Mostrim v Granard St. Mary’s; Sean Connolly’s v Killoe Young Emmets
Round 1: Abbeylara v Mullinalaghta St. Columba’s; Clonguish v Ardagh St. Patrick’s
Round 2: Ardagh St. Patrick’s v Abbeylara; Mullinalaghta St. Columba’s v Clonguish
Round 3: Abbeylara v Clonguish; Ardagh St. Patrick’s v Mullinalaghta St. Columba’s
The top two teams in each group will qualify for the quarter-finals. All games at neutral venues.