Hollywood against Annacurra should be a belter
On a weekend dominated by the return of the football championships, Saturday will be populated by the return of the intermediate ranks, with Valleymount in their first game since winning the Junior ‘A’ championship in 2020.
Their clash with Ballinacor will be sandwiched in the middle of that day’s festivities, with Avondale the venue.
Owing to their status as the newest kids on the block, Valleymount will probably be considered ever so slight underdogs, although not by much against a Ballinacor side that will be desperate to improve on last year’s championship, during which they lost to both An Tóchar and Laragh.
Although it will be their first year back in the Intermediate ranks, there is a school of thought that suggests that Valleymount are capable of pulling off the result on Saturday, although it would take a gun to one’s head to offer a certain prediction.
Elsewhere, Hollywood begin their campaign with a clash with Annacurra.
It has been a difficult few years for Hollywood in the championship. Relegated from the Senior ranks in 2019, they could not make a significant dent on the Intermediates last year, losing to An Tóchar and, indeed, Annacurra in their only two games. Couple that with the struggles of the Junior As in 2020, and it underlines a harsh couple of seasons from which they will be keen to rebound.
In Annacurra, they will be playing a side that flattered to deceive in 2020; losing to Donard-The Glen before rescuing their campaign with the win over Hollywood.
They ended up exiting the competition at the quarter-finals stage, against Kilcoole, who would go on to be beaten by eventually defeated finalists Coolkenno.
Elsewhere, there will be a meeting of neighbours and two of last year’s defeated quarter-finalists: An Tóchar vs Laragh. An Tóchar had a fine championship up to the last eight, as they beat Ballinacor and Hollywood, while Laragh had to salvage their campaign by beating Ballinacor to rebound from their initial run of one win and one loss from the preliminaries.
An Tóchar come into the game on the back of a league final defeat to Baltinglass in Roundwood albeit after a very decent performance and a quality game.
Laragh are coming into this game on something of a high having accounted for Stratford-Grangecon in the Liam Cullen Cup final last Sunday but they will need all their big guns in working order to get past the Roundwood men.
This is another tie that is difficult to call, among many in the intermediate championship this weekend.
Finally, the day will be rounded out by the meeting of Ballymanus and Kilmacanogue.
Two teams with something to prove in the competition this year. On the surface, Kilmanacogue can be considered favourites, based on what they did last year, including defeating eventual champions Donard-The Glen, only to be agonisingly eliminated by Carnew Emmets by way of a penalty shootout in the quarter-finals.
If last year is anything to go by, Kilmac should be a side hoping to be in the mix at the business end of the championship in 2021. In order to begin that journey, they will be tasked with beating Ballymanus, who had a far harsher run of things.
They were beaten narrowly by Coolkenno, who would lose to Donard-The Glen in the decider, before exiting the competition at the hands of that same team.
On both occasions, they lost by just a single point, lending credence to them being a tough nut to crack.
If Kilmac do have aspirations to go all the way, they will have to demonstrate the necessary quality to dispose of Saturday’s opposition.