A total of 18 games were played in the group stage of this year’s Senior Football Championship, which came to a conclusion last weekend, and only poor Ardagh have made their exit from the Connolly Cup.
Ballymahon, Fr. Manning Gaels and St. Mary’s Granard all accounted for a depleted St. Patrick’s side which was good enough to keep their hopes alive and with a few surprise results along the way a total of six teams ended up on two points apiece in the league table.
And as scores difference could not be used in a bad format that really needs to be scrapped, play-offs are now required to determine the remaining three places in the last eight alongside Killoe, Mullinalaghta, Colmcille, Clonguish and Longford Slashers.
With such a big number of clubs in the qualification tangle, the county board decided to defer the draw for the quarter-finals until the last of the play-offs on Sunday evening next - the meeting of Mostrim and Granard at Lynch Park in Abbeylara.
After losing their first two games against Killoe and Colmcille, the Edgeworthstown side had to beat Fr. Manning Gaels in the Round 3 clash at the Dromard grounds on Saturday evening last to stay in the race for the county title and duly done the business with four points to spare in the finish.
Tony Kelly’s side showed a lot of character to survive under considerable pressure and will be in a fairly confident frame of mind for the game against Granard.
The indications are that Mostrim will come out on top while Abbeylara and Dromard are also fancied to come through the play-offs at the expense of Fr. Manning Gaels and Ballymahon respectively.
Dromard suffered surprise defeats against Abbeylara and Mullinalaghta in failing to build on the perfect start to their championship campaign with a win over Clonguish but it will be a big shock if they fail to beat Ballymahon at the Higginstown grounds in Granard on Saturday evening next.
Abbeylara were unlucky not to get a result in their narrow defeat against Slashers last weekend, when a draw would have been good enough, but are now in pole position to qualify for the quarter-finals by beating Fr. Manning Gaels at Emmet Park in Killoe this Thursday evening. The Drumlish/Ballinamuck side would appear to have blown their chance of further progress after their failure to master Mostrim last weekend.
Abbeylara v Fr. Manning Gaels.
Ballymahon v Dromard.
Mostrim v Granard. Prediction: Mostrim