Predicted teams and match ups – Belleek vs Forkhill
After last weekend’s fascinating draw between the two best sides in the Junior Division, a lot will be expected of Friday evenings clash.
Forkhill will be kicking themselves that they didn’t do enough the last day out to earn a victory and will want to right the wrongs in the replay.
They led by four points in addition time after dominating the final quarter of the game, outscoring their opponents 0-5 to 0-1.
But an unlikely goal from Belleek super-sub Conor McKevitt and a huge score from the reliable Callum O’Neill was enough to bring the game to a replay.
Both sides would have been proud of their defensive displays and the quality of tackling on show was simply sublime.
In terms of match ups, Belleek and Forkhill will have both felt they got their match ups right and not much should change from last weekend.
Forkhill defence on top
In the build up to the first game, a lot of the attention would have been on the quality of the Belleek full forward line.
Drew McVerry, Sean McCreesh and James McParland have all been in great scoring form throughout the championship, but Forkhill halted their progress in the drawn game.
The Forkhill full back line held the opposition inside line to just one point from play, with McCreesh the only one getting on the score sheet.
Tony Canning has been really impressive this season and he once again kept a tight grip on his man and should renew acquaintances with McVerry.
Similarly, in the other corner Aaron Coleman made The Sideline Eye Team of the Week and should once again match up against McParland.
Michael Keenan will hold his full back position and take on Sean McCreesh, with Michael Byrnes dropping back to sweep.
The other big matchup is of course Paddy Burns against Belleek star-man Callum O’Neill and this duel is one that will be crucial.
Paddy Burns may have been a surprise inclusion for some last weekend, but with another weeks training under his belt, he will be confident of taking out O’Neill.
Forkhill do like to get bodies behind the ball and break out at pace on the counterattack and this weekend should be no different.
The likes of Barry Shannon, Darren King and Brendan McCoy all find themselves in defensive area, providing cover for their back line.
Stephen Sheridan gave his best performance of the season in the drawn game and will look to repeat the display this weekend.
That will obviously come as a big concern to the Belleek management team and they will want to dissolve his influence.
Lorcan Quinn could perhaps go toe-to-toe with the Forkhill star and try to put Sheridan on the back foot.
Another option is of course for the likes of Callum O’Neill to play at centre field and fight fire with fire, but Forkhill are unlikely to let that happen.
If O’Neill should go to centre field, Paddy Burns will have no issues with tracking his man and playing further out the park.
Connor Donaghy started in the middle for Forkhill last week and like his half forward line, will drop back to give his side defensive support.
This leaves the likes of Stephen Finnegan free to do the same for Belleek and he performed his sweeper role brilliantly the last day out.
Finnegan cut off plenty of Forkhill attacks and the number eight also likes to get forward when the opportunity arises.
Same again from Quinn?
Walking off the field last Saturday evening, you can be sure both Fergus Quinn and his manager were happy with how he performed against Jemar Hall.
Hall has been the standout performer in the Junior Championship this season and Forkhill’s top scorer in every game.
Last week, Quinn was able to hold the Armagh star to three points from play, an impressive defensive display from Belleek man-marker.
The professional boxer is sure to go toe-to-toe once again with Jemar Hall and this is a match up that could decide the game.
Hall will be eager to come out on top of the duel and knows how important he is to Forkhill getting over the line.
Finnegan will drop back into Belleek’s defensive shell and once again provide the cover needed to halt a strong Forkhill forward line.
Cormac Toner didn’t get on the score sheet last weekend but was a constant threat to the Belleek rear-guard.
Ronan Davies dropped back from wing half forward to shadow Toner and will likely to so again on Friday evening.
Belleek have to be commended on the quality of their defensive display last weekend, particularly their tackling.
They will once again need to be on top form to halt the Forkhill attack and if they are to win, that’s exactly what they’ll have to do.