Plenty at stake this weekend
Straight talking with Tommy Breheny
We are now down to the business end of the group stages of the Belfry Senior Football Championship with the final games this coming weekend. In what was a very low profile start to this year's campaign we are now at the games with something at stake with 1 semi- final place, 6 quarter-final and the relegation candidates to be decided this weekend and let's hope this round of games ignite the championship.
In group 1 which is the 4 team group the top team will go straight to the semi-final with 2nd and 3rd will play a quarter-final.
At this stage, Tubbercurry, unless there is a number of unlikely scenarios, look likely to avoid a quarter-final with St Mary's, Eastern Harps and Curry in contention for the remaining two places. Curry with an inferior scoring difference would need to defeat St Marys by eleven or rely on Eastern Harps to get any positive result against Tubbercurry and then a win would be enough to put them through on the head to head, making them the outsiders to qualify.
In this group and league campaign Tubbercurry have declared themselves as the nearest challengers to Tourlestrane showing signs that they are back to their form of 2013 and 2014 and the only side in the county that has improved on their 2016 form.
After a poor league campaign, last year's finalist St Marys displayed much improvement in the recent group game against Tubbercurry albeit coming up short on the day when they were in a winning position twice, but they need a convincing performance next Sunday if they are going to mount a challenge this year.
In group two both Calry/St Josephs and Coolera/Strandhill have already qualified for the quarter-final but both will expect Tourlestrane to top group three and if that is the case the team that loses this game would play them in the next round so they will feel they have something to play for with the winners playing the third placed team in group one.
In the final game of the weekend Tourlestrane as mentioned take on fellow South Sligo side Coolaney/Mullinabreena to decide who tops the group, at the moment the latter is top, having scored more than Tourlestrane so if they even get a draw they would top the group.
While Tourlestrane would be expected to continue their winning sequence, I feel this will be a tight game and wouldn't rule out the draw.
With Anthony Brennan managing Coolaney/Mullinabreena, he will have intimate knowledge of the Tourlestrane players and will feel he can get the measure of them.
I feel it is important that Coolaney/Mullinabreena after a number of years showing some promise that they don't fizzle out of this year's championship and next Sundays fixture will be a barometer of their progress over the last number of years.
At the other end of the tables both Drumcliffe/Rosses Point and St Molaise Gaels are in the relegation playoffs and will be joined by Eastern Harps, Curry or St Marys, depending on results this weekend.
Molaise Gaels after bouncing back up to senior looked like a side that was going to have an impact at senior level but an injury ravaged year have left them in trouble.
With plenty at stake this weekend let's hope the championship comes alive and here are my quarter-final pairings prediction. Tourlestrane v Calry/St Josephs, St Mary's v Coolaney/Mullinabreena and Coolera/Strandhill v Eastern Harps with Tubbercurry already in the semi-final but there is bound to be a shock result that will change everything.