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Derry SFC – Unmissable action in quarters

Senior Football Championship quarter-final

Swatragh v Banagher

Saturday, Owenbeg, 6.30pm

James Kearney and Paul McAtamney were doubts last day out but they should make an appearance for Swatragh this weekend.

Unfortunately for Swatragh they are still waiting on Lorcan McWilliams to return to action, as he is still sidelined.

Manager Enda McGinley said that McWilliams is on his way back, but is unlikely to feature.

They have also been dealt a blow with the news that Eoghan O’Kane picked up a knock. It will be closer to game time till they find out if he will be ready to play.

Swatragh qualified for the quarter-finals having beaten Glenullin by 3-12 to 0-11. They had a solid run in the league and finished in third place behind Slaughtneil and Glen.

They beat Banagher by 1-13 to 0-7 in April and they should repeat a similar result this weekend.

Patrick Kearney is a key man for Swatragh, and he will cause the Banagher defence problems.

Banagher pulled off one of the shocks in the first round though, as they beat Joe Cassidy’s Bellaghy team, who had had a much better league run this year.

Banagher had a change of management this season. Declan Mullan and Enda Muldoon departed, and Charlie O’Kane and Mark Quigley took their place. They have added confidence to the team. Players like Tiernan and Niall Moore were crucial in the Bellaghy win.

They will be equally important this weekend.

Verdict: Swatragh

Senior Football Championship quarter-final

Slaughtneil v Ballinderry

Sunday, Glen, 1.30pm

Slaughtneil had a comfortable win over Paddy Bradley’s Newbridge in the opening round, emerging victorious on a scoreline of 2-11 to 1-6 to further emphasise their ambitions to regain their title having lost it last year.

The team has changed only a little from last year. Antoin McMullan is not in goal as his back problems continue, while Paul McNeill is still sidelined with his collar bone issue.

Patsy Bradley and Gerard Bradley are back in play though and that is a massive boost for manager Pat Cassidy who takes the team alongside Paddy Flynn, Kevin Hughes, and Lorcan Martin.

This weekend’s game against Ballinderry evokes memories of the many battles that these two teams had in the noughties. That was back when Slaughtneil were not the dominant force that they are now. It was Ballinderry in those days, who tended to carry the favourites tag.

But they should be buoyed up by how their championship started.

A rousing 6-18 to 1-14 win over Dungiven will have done their confidence the world of good.

Fabian Muldoon’s team finished fourth in division 1A this year, but won only five games.

Ballinderry still retain plenty of the older campaigners, Ryan Wilkinson, Kevin McGuckin and Connor Nevin, and they have their part to play in this battle which few will fancy them in. Fabian Muldoon confirmed this week that they have no injury concerns to worry about for this game.

That is a massive help.

Verdict: Slaughtneil

Senior Football Championship quarter-final

O’Donovan Rossa v Ballinascreen

Sunday, Owenbeg, 4.30pm

Rossa dethroned the champions Coleraine in the last round, winning by the closest margins, 1-8 to 0-10.

On one level it was a shock, as Coleraine are strong Championship contenders, but at the same time Magherafelt are a team that have great ambitions.

In the past couple of seasons, their league form has been excellent, but they have not carried it into championship.

Last year they were criticised for playing a defensive system against Slaughtneil that didn’t actually work.

This year though, they look like they are primed to make their mark on the championship, as that Coleraine result suggests.

They have not had as many county players this year, and star man Danny Heavron is all the better for it.

The management team confirmed that they have no injuries to report ahead of this match.

Their opponents are Ballinascreen who are managed by Liam Bradley, along with Mickey McBride John Scullion and Benny Quinn.

They accounted for Kilrea in the opening round, 2-14 to 0-9. They will hope to keep their scoring returns up in this game. During the league campaign they had the the second worst attacking record behind Banagher.

Benny Heron needs a big game, and he should get chances as Magherafelt tend to let in a bit more than they have in previous season.

Verdict: Magherafelt

Senior Football Championship quarter-final

Glen v Lavey

Sunday, Owenbeg, 6pm

This is one of the tastiest games of the weekend, as two neighbouring clubs go head to head.

Glen will be firm favourites after a good league run, and an opening round win against the Loup.

Lavey beat Greenlough in their first championship match.

It’s hard to read much into those two results. The Loup were not strong this year, and are still relying on some stalwarts. Similarly, Greenlough’s key men are Enda Lynn and Niall O’Loughlin.

These two teams met recently, in the middle of August and Glen won by 1-16 to 0-12.

Jude Donnelly, is the Glen manager but knows the Lavey team inside out. He helped out with the coaching of the club’s u-21s who won the championship title in 2017. In fact, he even carried over some of the fitness training techniques into Glen.

Glen will still be hurting from last year’s championship semi-final defeat to Lavey. Emmett Bradley, Danny Tallon, and Ciaran McFaul will be hungry to make up for that loss.

But they are up against a Lavey team managed by two of the most astute men in the county, John Brennan and Seamus Downey.

They know that they have the hoodoo over Glen, and they will have their players mentally tuned in for this game.

Oran and Shea Downey were very good for Lavey against Greenlough. Lavey have some very talented footballers, young hungry players, and they will be out to cause another shock.

Verdict: Glen

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