Three Louth sides bid for Le­in­ster semi spots

Drogheda Independent - - SPORT - JOHN SAV­AGE

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

Ro­nan Phillips.

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