This weekend sees the commencement of the Junior Football Championship with the competition taking a round robin format involving 14 teams across four groups. Looking at league form Clonmore are the clear favourites to lift the trophy and they are the perfect starting point for the Junior Championship preview:
Clonmore – Clady – Lissummon
Clonmore recorded a 17 game winning streak that saw them topple everyone that stood in their way as they captured the Junior League title for 2019, before losing their final two games. Although already promoted, Clonmore will want to ‘do the double’ and head up to the Intermediate League in style! They will look to Brendan Donaghy for leadership and inspiration and his return near the end of the league campaign no doubt helped to extend their unbeaten run. Indeed Clonmore reached the last 8 of the Intermediate Championship last season and should top Group 1 of the JFC this year. Clady and Lissummon will make it through to the next round as there are only three teams in Group 1 but won’t want to just make up the numbers. Clady’s early promise diminished as the year went on as they won five of their first six games during the league, losing only to Clonmore during this time but fell away and only won three of their remaining 13 games. Lissummon finished just below Clady in the league table having recorded 13 points and lost out to Forkhill in their final league game of the year as both teams battled to win the Junior League B title.
Belleek – Killeavy II – Newtown – St Patrick’s II
If Clonmore were the stand out team in this year’s league then Belleek weren’t far behind as they finished in second place having won 15 of their 18 league ties making them firm favourites to top this group and make their way to the quarter finals with the minimum of fuss. Cashel Toner and Sean McCreesh have been their main scores this season and Belleek will look to them to continue their good form. Killeavy will be the biggest challengers and likewise should come through the group unscathed. Newtown and St Patrick’s IIs will most likely battle out the group stages for third spot which would send them through to the playoff round while whoever finishes bottom will exit the championship at the earliest possible juncture. Both sides only won 3 games each from their league outings so will have to improve dramatically to cause an upset in Group 2.
Collegeland – Forkhill – Dorsey
This group is certainly the hardest to call but like Group 1 each team will make it to the next round as there are only three teams fighting for three places. Collegelands league form will make them the favourites to top the group as they finished in 4th place after winning 10 of their 19 games and finishing on 23 points. However the fact that Forkhill captured the Junior League B title will give them some much needed confidence and the return of Paddy Burns, Stephen Sheridan and Jemar Hall from county duty will certainly boost Forkhill. They will want to continue the momentum they have built through winning their final five games of the league campaign this should see them challenge to finish top of the group. Dorsey finished just below Forkhill but it would be surprising if they challenged for the top spot and should be pleased with a chance to reach the quarter finals through the playoffs.
Derrynoose – Corrinshego – Mullabrack – Redmond O’Hanlon’s
Derrynoose will be over the moon with the group they have as Redmond O’Hanlon’s and Mullabrack ended the year as the bottom two of the league while Derrynoose should top Group 4 with three wins from three. Conor McNally led them through the league campaign and his side will again look to his scoring exploits to help them into the quarter finals. Corrinshego will be the closest challengers to top place and should safely make it through to at least the playoff stage of the competition. Mullabrack will be delighted to be back in the mix for the JFC having just reformed this year and celebrated their first win in 10 years during the league campaign. Unfortunately that was their only win and they finished bottom of the league with Redmond O’Hanlon’s just ahead of them and this could be reflected at the bottom of Group 4.
Check out The Sideline Eye on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see this week’s JFC fixtures and make sure to follow us on our social media pages to keep up to date with all the GAA action in Armagh!