from Mourne Observe
Down club championships get under way this weekend
with fixtures spread over six days at 15 venues.
A big crowd is expected in Downpatrick on Friday
evening to see how Castlewellan fare against current
champions Bryansford. Barney McAleenan's team
has been ravaged by injuries all year and the
latest victim has been Ciaran McCabe whose absence
will certainly be felt against the Ford.
The Town will be looking to Fintan McGreevey and
Shay McVeigh in particular to get points on the
Bryansford seem to be coming back to form at the
right time for the championship and have a big
pool of talented players to select from. Veterans
Brian Burns, Gerard Morgan and Aidan Shields will
be well focused for the 2004 championship and
up front Colm Kearney, Shane King and Chris Brannigan
will present a serious threat. They won't find
it easy to get one past Mickey McVeigh. Even so
Castlewellan will require a big game from Gregory
McCartan if they are to seriously trouble the
While Bryansford and Mayobridge are joint favourites,
most of the other contenders feel that they are
there with a real chance of going all the way.
Liatroim are a serious force to be reckoned with
and should get over their first hurdle, Ballyholland,
with something to spare.
It would be foolhardy to predict the outcome of
most of the other matches. Burren v An Riocht,
Longstone v Rostrevor, Annaclone v Downpatrick
and Loughinisland v Saval could go either way.
There are likely to be a couple of draws. Mayobridge
should shade it over Clonduff while Kilcoo will
meet a difficult challenge from Warrenpoint but
Intermediate favourites Atticall will be wary
going into their local derby with Glasdrumman
who pushed Longstone to a point last year.
Ballymartin will also put it up to the other fancied
team, Shamrocks. Ardglass and Kilclief will be
a fiercely contested local derby at Castlewellan
and Glenn and Saul will also be a tight contest
Carryduff have the potential to create a minor
surprise by beating Darragh Cross and Dundrum
have the potential to do likewise against Clann
It should be a great festival of football and
Seamas Walsh will probably have to pencil in a
few replays afterw