Forkhill vs Crossmaglen II – Friday 17th July – 8pm
Once the draw for the Junior Championship was made a few weeks back, it was noticeable the competitiveness that will be in the Division for 2020.
Six or seven teams will be in with a shout of landing the big prize, but for this weekend league form will be the focus.
And for all the teams competing, a strong start to the league is crucial in setting out their stall for a busy year ahead.
The Junior Division is the only one in the county where the teams will fulfil all their original fixtures, along with playing the Championship.
Two of the early favourites for both league and championship glory clash this Friday evening in the opening round of the league.
Forkhill play hosts to Crossmaglen II’s, who were relegated from Intermediate football following an underwhelming 2019.
2020 could be a much more promising year however, and if the rumours are to be believed, Cross are the team to stop this season.
Names like Johnny Hanratty, Rico Kelly and Paul McKeown have floated around, and some suggest that these players could feature for The Rangers at Junior level.
Other such as Stephen Finnegan and Mickey McNamee have also been name-checked, but until Cross take the field on Friday evening, it is unknown who will make up their line-up.
Forkhill hold their own star quality, and it’s hard to believe that the South Armagh men are still plying their trade in the basement division.
County stars Jemar Hall, Stephen Sheridan and Paddy Burns provide talent that would walk on to any Senior team in the county, while former Armagh defender Barry Shannon offers a wealth of experience.
Burns is however side-lined for the foreseeable future as his run of bad luck on the injury front continues.
Forkhill suffered a poor league run last season but did finish with silverware after the split in the leagues.
Their form improved and they went on to claim the Junior B league title, setting them up for a tilt at the Championship.
While their performances peaked with a surprising and convincing win over Clonmore, it wasn’t enough to guide them to glory as the semi final was where their season ended.
Cross likewise experienced a horrendous league campaign, which saw them pick up a total of two wins from their 14 games, while they were also unable to field in their round four clash with Eire Og.
Both sides will look to set down an early marker on Friday night and sparks could fly as arguably the two best teams in the division go head to head.
It’s all up for grabs early on and if Cross lay claim to a star-studded line-up, it’s hard to look past The Rangers finding their feet early and picking up two points on the first day of the season.