Intermediate Championship Semi Final Preview

This game has the potential to be a good old fashioned shootout with both sides boasting strong attacking units who are well able to mix their attacking play with a short hand passing game or going long to the edge of the square in search of a more direct approach and we could see the net rippled on a couple of occasions at both ends this evening.

Clan na Gael have already been promoted to the Senior League for 2020 but if they were to lose out at the semi final stages then the championship winners would join Mullaghbawn in division 1B next season and Clan na Gael would have to start from scratch once again at the start of next season.

Grange played their football in the lower section of the Intermediate league this year and failed to gain promotion, finishing in third place, two points behind Keady. If Grange were able to see off the Lurgan side in this evening’s game and go on to win the championship then they would be the team to replace Clan na Gael in the Senior League next year.

Many feel that today’s first semi final will decide who goes on to lift the trophy and with everything on the line we could witness an absolute cracker in the Athletic Grounds while Shane O’Neill’s and Wolfe Tones compete for the other spot in this year’s final with their came on first at 5.30pm.

Clan na Gael and Grange have already crossed sword in this year’s championship campaign as they faced each other during the early rounds of the group stages. Both sides played some fantastic football that afternoon but a feisty second half saw Grange reduced to 12 men and the Clans ran out seven point winners in the end.

The Clans had the comfort of topping group one and entered the quarter finals at the earliest stage where they saw off a competitive Crossmaglen last Monday with four points to spare. Grange on the other hand were forced to come through the play offs where they dealt with the challenge Whitecross presented with the minimum of fuss.

It was last weekend’s win over favourites Mullaghbawn after extra time in the quarter final clash that the Grange really sprung into action and displayed their full range of attacking play. Cathal McKenna top scored on the day with 1-4 while his brother Miceal also raised four white flags during the course of the game.

Youngsters Ben Toal and Justin Kieran add a lot of pace to the Grange attacking third of the pitch along with great accuracy in front of the posts as they evenly split eight points between them last weekend. Grange also have the comfort of allowing Ethan Rafferty to drift between midfield and full forward and he will take some watching no matter where he lines out.

Sam McLarnon will most likely go toe to toe with his Armagh U20s team mate Justin Kiernan while Mel Patterson could see himself matched against either one of the McKenna brothers. Chris Taylor will welcome Ethan Rafferty to the edge of the square should the Grange go with that tactic and will hold his full back position throughout the game.

Clan na Gael also hold some serious attackers as well with Stefan Campbell the big name in their ranks. Shane McParland has been in great from recently in full forward and his strength and power along with his ability to shoot of both sides makes him an absolute nightmare for any full back and Conor Toal found him hard to handle in their previous meeting.

The Lurgan men will look to gain a foothold in the centre of the park and we could see Stefan Campbell drift out to partner Ronan Austin and add some strength around the middle. The match ups will be key throughout the field and if the Grange can get enough supply to their forwards they could find themselves in the Intermediate final in two weeks time.

A massive thank you to The Bar Recovery for sponsoring today’s preview!
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