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This weekend’s Louth GAA Division 1 match previews

Hollywood Developments Division 1

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Declan Byrne (St Mochta's) and Darren Clarke (Ardee St Mary's) will be hopeful of winning their Division 1 duels this weekend. Picture: Ken Finegan/Newspics

Declan Byrne (St Mochta's) and Darren Clarke (Ardee St Mary's) will be hopeful of winning their Division 1 duels this weekend. Picture: Ken Finegan/Newspics

Declan Byrne (St Mochta's) and Darren Clarke (Ardee St Mary's) will be hopeful of winning their Division 1 duels this weekend. Picture: Ken Finegan/Newspics

Naomh Máirtín vs Sean O’Mahony’s

The county kingpins earned a morale-boosting victory at home to Mattock Rangers last time out to lift themselves away from the drop zone and a win here, with some of their county stars back involved, could certainly propel them into the picture at the summit.

In what is a meeting of two of the past three senior champions, Sean O’Mahony’s would view anything bar defeat as a bonus as they continue their survival mission – which has gone well so far with three wins.

Tom Gray has come back into the Jocks fold after injury and he, along with Dara McDonnell, will be eager to continue staking claims for regular inclusion when Fergal Reel has his full panel to choose from.

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O’Mahony’s may find it difficult to contain the hosts’ threat as well as posting a significant enough score at the other end, albeit they are proving a tough nut to crack so far this year.

VERDICT: Jocks.

St Fechin’s vs St Mochta’s

A repeat of the 2018 intermediate championship final, although St Fechin’s will hope to avoid another losing outcome against high-flying St Mochta’s, whose slow start to the campaign is but a distant memory following five successive victories.

The return of Bevan Duffy to the side will offer Paul Clarke’s hosts a different dimension from a central area, while the prolific form of Ryan Walsh up front has been a beacon of light in an otherwise inconsistent league programme for the Hoops.

It would well come down to which form forward gets the most adequate supply – Walsh or Mochta’s scoring machine Declan Byrne. Since coming back into the team, the former Louth attacker has struck 0-14, 1-11 and 0-11 hauls, which is an incredible rate of registering.

How will Fechin’s go about curbing his influence, as well as that of his brother, Ciarán Byrne? Their success in that regard will determine the outcome of an appealing-looking fixture.

VERDICT: Mochta’s, just.

Cooley Kickhams vs St Bride’s
Kickhams need to start picking up points if they’re to move away from the bottom of the table and the visit of St Bride’s to Fr McEvoy Park, they will feel, presents them with a prime opportunity to pick up the maximum return.

Gary Thornton’s men won this fixture 12 months ago and have county man Gerry Malone back available, though Bride’s have had a fairly impressive league run to date and sit well inside the top half entering Saturday evening’s round eight meeting.

Geraldines ended Brides’ unbeaten home record last time out, though the return of Seán Marry from Louth duty will add another significant dimension to an attack that boasts Kieran McArdle and Ciarán Deane in impressive form.

Who needs the points more?

Cooley, for sure, and that may just be enough to get them across the winning line in a tense clash.

VERDICT: Cooley, just.

Geraldines vs Dreadnots
Gers have done surprisingly well this season and their win over St Bride’s last time out will have them eyeing up a top six finish, especially if they can get the job done versus struggling Dreadnots.

The Clogherhead men have been plagued by absence and availability issues since the term got underway, but should have a cohort of their Louth players back for this must-win duel in Haggardstown.

In what has been a difficult campaign, young Ciarán Finnegan has been a bright spark in the half-back line, while a fit Peter Kirwan should shine with Jay Hughes to support him and the veteran pair, Páraic Smith and James Califf, chipping in too.

Knowing what’s at stake, and not wanting a catchable team to get too far ahead of them, Dreadnots may just snatch the spoils in Haggardstown.

VERDICT: Dreadnots.

Ardee St Mary’s vs St Patrick’s

Two teams that have hit form in recent round convene on Deeside with top six places firmly on their agenda. In what should be a tight tussle, home advantage will have Cathal Murray’s team entering as slight favourites, though Pat’s have won their last two.

Ciarán Keenan and Dáire McConnon – the Jackson brothers, Liam and Tom, and Donal McKenny are believed to be away for this outing – coming back into the team will majorly alter the complexion of an already impressive Mary’s starting XV, although the injection of Leonard Grey and Jack Murphy – as well as Martin McEneaney between the posts – cannot be underestimate in regard to the Lordship men.

Grey and Murphy were absolutely outstanding for Pat’s in last season’s championship and their absences have been evidently felt as Johnny Magee’s outfit flirted with the danger zone for the early part of the league season.

Yet it’s difficult to see Mary’s being beaten on their own patch given the strength they possess going forward. Potentially the game of the round and one which could get the winner’s season truly up and running.

VERDICT: Mary’s.

Mattock Rangers vs Newtown Blues

A Super Sunday clash with the potential for a shock.

Mattock may have lost their past two outings, but should have a portion of the cavalry back in contention for places, including their main man, Cathal Fleming, who has been tied up with Louth over recent weeks.

Blues are the only unbeaten team in the top-flight this term and while the return of Ciarán Downey and Dáire Nally will add another layer of fearsome strength to their offence, Mattock are well capable of springing a surprise in Collon.

Liam Flynn – a Louth star of the future – has really taken to senior football and scored a goal in the defeat by Naomh Máirtín last time out. He’ll likely be picked up by one of Blues’ star defenders, maybe even Alan Connor, and how his influence is impacted will determine the threat Mattock pose to the leaders’ stunning record.

There may just be no separating them.

VERDICT: Draw.


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