Seamus O’Hanlon | Sidelines
Following a hectic Gaelic Games club programme in the county over the last few months, everyone got a chance last weekend to pause and draw breath before the final pre-Christmas push.
Champions were crowned in the four adult competitions with the ancient Barony of Ferrard claiming ownership of all four 2021 titles.
There are four full baronies in County Louth (Ferrard, Ardee, Louth and Drogheda) and two half baronies (Dundalk Upper and Lower).
Ferrard in the south stretches the entire width of the county and lies between White River, River Boyne and Mattock River.
While I’d hazard a guess and say that Dundalk has previously welcomed home all four adult championships in the same year, 2021 is the first time the Junior, Intermediate, Senior and Hurling trophies will nestle in Ferrard over the winter months; Christy Bellew in Tullyallen, Joe Ward in Monasterboice and Seamus Flood and Paddy Kelly in Termonfeckin.
The Barony of Ferrard could even manage a grand slam or clean sweep of Louth club championship competitions in 2021 if St Fechins can secure the Larry Murray Cup in Friday evening’s Minor final replay in Hunterstown.
The Ferrard flags will be flying high around the Barony this week!
Following last season’s postponement of the Provincial and All Ireland club series, Naomh Mairtin eventually make their bow in the Leinster Club Championship when they take on Rathvilly from Carlow on Sunday at 1pm in Dunleer, Fergal Smyth from Offaly referees.
A delegation from Monasterboice I’m sure was present at Netwatch Cullen Park for yesterday’s Carlow decider to run the rule over next week’s opposition but like most at the Carlow town venue, they probably expected a different outcome. Carlow kingpins Eire Og were bidding for their fifth title in a row to add to their record tally of thirty SFC wins.
However, underdogs Rathvilly were seemingly the hungrier side throughout and fully merited their eight point winning margin and first senior crown since 2014. Corner forward Brian Murphy will be one for the Jocks rearguard to watch next weekend. He accounted for 1-8 of his side’s 2-12 total, the other goal coming from substitute Eric Molloy.
Having seen Fergal Reel’s side in action at Dunleer for all their previous championship games this term, it’s no surprise they opted to continue at the Shamrock Hill venue for this one.
While they performed admirably in the open expanses of Ardee the previous Sunday, the tighter environs in Dunleer probably better suits their preferred style of play. After missing out on the opportunity last season I think Naomh Mairtin will give this competition a right go this year. I expect a home victory. The winners have a home quarter-final against Shelmaliers from Wexford to look forward to in two weeks time.
St Fechins hurlers face Oliver Plunketts from Westmeath in the Leinster JHC in Dowdallshill on Saturday while their Intermediate footballers must wait until the following Wednesday night to travel to Meath to take on Trim. The victors have a home quarter-final against the Kilkenny junior champions.
In the Junior grade Glen Emmets take on Meath champions St Vincents on Saturday afternoon in Drogheda with Darragh Byrne from Wicklow taking charge. A bit of added interest in this fixture is the fact the Ardcath outfit are managed by former Glen Emmets coach Hugh Durrigan.
Ardee native Durrigan was in charge in Tullyallen for a two year term in 2019 and 2020 so is bound to have a fair insight into how the Emmets operate.
St Vincents have already tasted success under his stewardship winning the COVID delayed 2020 and 2021 Tailteann Cups and they were again impressive in disposing of Dunsany in this year’s county decider.
They are unbeaten so far in 2021 so this game promises to be a good one.
Monasterboice man Ray Lambe has done a tremendous job with Glen Emmets since taking the reins at the beginning of the season. His charges are playing a good brand of football and he will be hopeful Conor Grimes & Co will do enough on Saturday to extend their season into December at least. Reward for victory is an away trip to either Clonbullogue (Offaly) or Legan Sarsfields (Longford).