While there are some interesting games in Round 1 of the 2014 Senior Football Championship this weekend, the main attraction is the clash between old rivals Clonguish and Dromard at the Higginstown grounds in Granard on Sunday evening (5.15pm) and this meeting has become a regular occurrence in recent years.
Clonguish emerged victorious when it really mattered in the replay of the 2009 county final but Dromard can gain some measure of revenge on this occasion, particularly with Diarmuid Masterson back with the club after emigrating for a spell and who missed out on the run to last yearâ€™s title decider.
As usual, the Barden brothers Paul and David will be leading the charge for Clonguish and a tight contest is in prospect here but the vote goes to Dromard with Francis McGee and Cian Mimnagh capable of getting the vital scores. A game with a real cutting edge, even at this early stage of the senior championship.
After clashing no less than three times in the Connolly Cup last year, neighbouring rivals Abbeylara and Mullinalaghta will battle it out again in the opening round of the current campaign.
Two draws (one in the league stage) and a single point win for Abbeylara in the 2013 quarter-final replay was how the games materialised last season and while neither look good enough at the moment to end up as possible county champions in October, there are some quality young players on both teams. Robbie Smyth is a potential matchwinner for Abbeylara, such is his exceptional scoring ability, and last yearâ€™s beaten semi-finalists might just have the edge over Mullinalaghta.
While the 2012 title winners Killoe will be expected to make a positive start by overcoming the challenge of Mostrim, they cannot afford to take anything for granted against the Edgeworthstown side who have sprang a few surprises in the recent past.
But Emmet Og have a strong squad and should cross the first hurdle, particularly if Sean McCormack can produce his true potential in the full-forward-line where he is at his most dangerous. Sean suffered the frustration of being played out of position in the recent All-Ireland qualifier against Tipperary in a tactical plan that went badly wrong.
Reigning champions Longford Slashers are missing a number of players and might find it difficult to win their first round game against a Fr. Manning Gaels side who will be determined to build on the U-21 â€˜Aâ€™ championship success last year.
The new manager of the Drumlish/Ballinamuck outfit is former Leitrim footballer Seamus Quinn and while the current Gaels senior team are lacking in experience, they will be really fired up in the hope of causing an upset.
The appointment of former Longford footballer Niall Sheridan as the new St. Maryâ€™s boss was a popular choice with the Granard supporters, who will feel that their team has a decent chance of achieving a favourable result in their opening round clash against Colmcille.
Having being hit by injuries to a number of key players this season, including county defender Declan Reilly, this could prove to be a tricky game for Colmcille (now managed by Mullahoran native Danny Brady) but the McKeon brothers Barry and Paul can make the difference.
And last but not least is the remaining first round tie between Ballymahon and St. Patrickâ€™s, who clashed in the Division 1 League last weekend with Ballymahon recording a landslide 8-11 to 1-6 victory.
Last yearâ€™s Intermediate champions Ardagh are struggling badly this season and will probably experience a torrid time in the league stage of the championship with relegation looking like a certainty.
There will be an Open Draw for Round 2 (next Sunday evening) and the eventual top eight teams in the league stage of the championship (after 3 rounds of games) will qualify for the quarter-finals. At that point an Open Draw will be made to determine the four pairings while the bottom two teams in the table will play-off to determine who is relegated to the 2015 Intermediate Championship.
In the event of teams finishing on the same number of points in the league table, scores difference or possibly the head-to-head results will determine the final positions.
ROUND 1 FIXTURES
Clonguish v Dromard
Abbeylara v Mullinalaghta St. Columbaâ€™s
Longford Slashers v
Fr. Manning Gaels
Killoe Emmet Og v Mostrim
Colmcille v St. Maryâ€™s
Ardagh St. Patrickâ€™s v
Check GAA Fixtures on Page 83 for dates, venues and throw-in times