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The prospect of a third Louth SFC final showdown in a row between Newtown Blues and Naomh Mairtin moved a step closer on Sunday. (stock photo)

The prospect of a third Louth SFC final showdown in a row between Newtown Blues and Naomh Mairtin moved a step closer on Sunday. (stock photo)

Photo: ©SPORTSFILE

The prospect of a third Louth SFC final showdown in a row between Newtown Blues and Naomh Mairtin moved a step closer on Sunday. (stock photo)

The prospect of a third Louth SFC final showdown in a row between Newtown Blues and Naomh Mairtin moved a step closer on Sunday, as the Joe Ward rivals avoided each other in the semi-final draw.

Both sides had it relatively easy in their respective quarter-finals, as Newtown Blues overcame a solid start by St Joseph's to win pulling up, while the Jocks blew Dundalk Gaels away in the last game of the quarter-final quadruple-header in Darver.

In between, St Mary's were too strong for Geraldines, while St Mochta's edged out St Pat's in the only close encounter of the day.

The semi-final draw then pitted reigning champions the Blues against St Mary's, leaving Naomh Mairtin to face St Mochta's, now the clear outsiders in a four-horse race.

Both semi-finals will be repeats of group stage games. St Mary's stunned Newtown Blues with a late blitz to top their section, while Naomh Mairtin also summoned a last-gasp goal to deny St Mochta's a shock result in their group.

The Jocks will be strongly fancied to overcome the Louth Village outfit with a bit more to spare this time around, and while the Blues will probably start their clash with St Mary's as favourites too, the Ardee look well capable of repeating their group stage heroics.

Meanwhile, the semi-final of the intermediate grade will feature four of the more fancied sides from the outset.

Both games are almost too close to call as St Fechin's take on high-scoring Kilkerley Emmets, followed by Sean O'Mahony's clash with St Bride's.

John Mitchel's have been the surprise package in the junior grade, but they face a tough last-four assignment against a Naomh Fionnbarra side hoping to bounce straight back to the intermediate grade.

However, Mitchel's will take heart from the fact that the Barrs struggled to see off a Na Piarsaigh side that finished runners-up to the Ballybailie men in their group.

The other semi-final clash is between two familiar foes as Glyde Rangers and Lannleire renew rivalries in what is sure to be another close affair.

There is some doubt as to when the six semi-finals will take place. They have all been fixed for Darver this weekend, but if the Government decide to ease attendance restrictions at outdoor events from September 14th, the Louth CCC has signalled that all games will be put back a week.

This would have a knock-on effect on the respective finals, which at the moment are fixed for September 19 (Junior), 20 (Intermediate) and 27 (Senior).

They too would be pushed on a week if the COVID-19 restrictions are eased this week.

Ladies fixtures

Meanwhile, the Louth LGFA has confirmed its junior final and senior and intermediate semi-final fixtures for this coming weekend. The junior decider between Dowdallshill/Cuchulainn Gaels and Mattock Rangers will take place in Dundalk Young Irelands pitch at Upper Marshes on Saturday at 7pm.

The intermediate and senior semi-finals have been pencilled in as a double headers in Stabannon and Dundalk Gaels.

Naomh Fionnbarra and Kilkerley Emmets will clash in the first IFC semi-final in Stabannon at 11am, followed by the senior showdown between St Bride's and St Mochta's at 1pm.

At the Ramparts, Geraldines and Roche Emmets will contest the other senior semi-final at 11am, followed by the intermediate clash between Clan Na Gael and Glyde Rangers. Extra time will be played in all games if they finish level.

The Argus