Three Louth sides bid for Leinster semi spots
LOUTH champions Newtown Blues make their Leinster bow on Sunday afternoon at the Gaelic Grounds on a busy weekend for Wee County representatives on the provincial stage.
St Mochta’s and Dundalk Young Irelands are also in action on Saturday afternoon as all three sides bid for semi-final berths in the respective grades.
The Blues received a bye to the quarter-final stages where they host Carlow champs Eire Og (throw-in 1.30pm), who like the Blues retained their county title with a 0-9 to 0-5 win over Palatine at the start of last month.
The Blues will be warm favourites to progress on ‘home’ turf, but they will have to unpick a stubborn Eire Og defence to do so.
The Carlow kingpins have conceded just 14 points in five matches in their domestic campaign coughing up 0-3, 0-6, 0-5, 0-5 and 0-5 en route to glory.
So Ronan Phillips and his players can expect to be met by a well-drilled blanket defence, but with county men like Sean gannon, Eoghan Ruth and Darragh O’Brien in their ranks, Eire Og have plenty of quality going forward too.
The Blues will be hoping to catch their visitors cold as Eire Og won their county crown five weeks ago, while the Blues have only had to wait three weeks for a return to action.
The prize for the winners is a semi-final date away to Rhode or St Columbas, Mullinalaghta who clash in Tullamore at the same time on Sunday.
Sean O’Mahony’s 2016 semi-final conquerers Rhode will be slight favourites in that last eight tie as they bid for a second final appearance in three seasons.
On the other side of the draw two of the big hitters will bite the dust as Kilmacud Crokes and St Peter’s Dunboyne clash in Pairc Tailteann and Moorefield entertain Portlaoise in Newbridge.
Elsewhere, having dispatched Meath champions Longwood last time out, St Mochta’s will make Ardee their home from home again on Saturday as they host Laois outfit Courtwood (1.30).
The midlanders will be no pushover having beaten hot favourites Mountmellick Gaels twice this season, in the opening round and again in the decider.
Courtwood also won the Division 2 title for a memorable double.
The winners will face either Two Mile House (Kildare) or Round Towers Lusk (Dublin) in the last four.
There’s also a semi-final spot up for grabs in Dowdallshill on Saturday (1.30) as Dundalk Young Irelands return to the scene of their Louth JFC triumph to host another Laois side, Annanough.
Adrian O’Donoghue’s troops eked out a superb victory in The Downs last Saturday week, seeing off a resilient Kilbeggan Shamrocks side by 1-9 to 0-9.
Last weekend Knockbridge made their exit from the provincial stage against a strong Dunnamaggin side.
Despite a morale-boosting win over Maynooth in the opening round, the ‘Bridge boys proved no match for the Kilkenny champs who cruised to a 2-21 to 0-7 victory.
Peter Brennan, Knockbridge makes a fine catch during his side’s AIB Leinster JHC Championship defeat to