In a most exciting start to the 2013 Senior Football Championship, last year’s finalists Killoe Emmet Og and Longford Slashers will renew rivalry in Round 1 of the current Connolly Cup campaign this weekend.
While the eventual losers will get another couple of chances to qualify for the quarter-finals, a win will still be a priority for the leading title contenders and Emmet Og will obviously be hoping to have Michael Quinn back in action as he gradually recovers from the ankle action that forced him to miss Longford’s All-Ireland Qualifiers against Limerick and Wexford.
With a class act forward in Sean McCormack, the Killoe attack is certainly not lacking in scoring power and there are a lot of talented players in Tommy McCormack’s strong squad including no less than eight U-21 county players who featured in this year’s Leinster Final against Kildare.
While Slashers have been strengthened this season by ‘new signings’ Peter Foy (ex-Cashel) and Marc Diffley (ex-Sean Connolly’s), along with the return of Dominic Glennon from England, long term injuries have ruled out both Stephen Phillips and Conor Clarke.
Denis Connerton’s side will also be minus the services of Paul Kelly and Mark Smith (both injured) along with the suspended Foy for the Round 1 match in Ballinalee this Friday evening and thus Killoe are given the vote to confirm their superiority over Slashers.
Best of the rest of the first round action in the league stage of the championship is the meeting of Clonguish and Colmcille, the latter now under the guidance of new manager Tony McKiernan from the Killashee St. Brigid’s club. Tony, a native of Colmcille, will be hoping that current county players Declan Reilly, Barry McKeon and John Paul Reilly make the desired impact.
Trevor Smullen is back in charge of Clonguish, who must still be regarded as a threat with such quality players in Paul and David Barden, Enda Williams and Paddy Dowd, while Ciaran Williams has returned home after spending some time travelling abroad and is back playing for his club.
A team to watch out for in this year’s senior championship are Mullinalaghta, with shrewd coach Gerry Fox still at the helm, and their impressive unbeaten run in the league this season suggests that St. Columba’s will make a winning start against Mostrim in the Connolly Cup.
ROUND 1 FIXTURES
Granard St. Mary’s v Ballymahon. Prediction: Granard. Mullinalaghta St. Columba’s v Mostrim. Prediction: Mullinalaghta. Abbeylara v Fr. Manning Gaels. Prediction: Abbeylara. Colmcille v Clonguish. Prediction: Clonguish. Longford Slashers v Killoe Emmet Og. Prediction: Killoe. Killashee St. Brigid’s v Dromard. Prediction: Dromard.
Check GAA Fixtures on Page 82 for dates, venues and throw-in times