Monday, 5 September 2011

Derry Intermediate Quarter-Finals

Aaron Kerrigan  takes on his man

Unmarkable pace.  In a pre-game video presentation with Derry Minors, this was the text under Aaron Kerrigan’s picture.  Blistering pace, a great asset for any corner forward.  Ask any defender, they will dread being assigned to a flying machine.

I bet Mark O’Sé will hate marking the Gooch.  With the All-Ireland Final fast approaching, the interval games will be ultra competitive.  The Dublin defenders won’t be queuing up to mark Bernard Brogan and Theo Walcott would run riot at Arsenal training with his pace.

A few years ago I managed Claudy’s senior team.  Our specialised man-marker that year was Gareth McCloskey, better known as Gerbil.  He was brilliant at it.  In training games, he always marked Aaron.  It was always a great battle, with very little frees awarded during the training games we played at their Cumber training ground.  In particular, one night Aaron’s red training bib was ripped apart.

Claudy had a decent run in the league and championship that season.  Central to that progress was the pace of Kerrigan in the left corner and Marty ‘Nugget’ Donaghy at full forward.  Another factor was the accurate left peg of Darrell Devine in the right corner.  Scoring forwards win games and this weekend it will be no different.

Aaron Kerrigan was just 15 back in 2005 when the likes of Gerbil and Nugget (all club teams are littered with dodgy nicknames) won the Intermediate Championship under the guidance of Paul McIver and Killian Conlan.  As he watched Nugget lift the cup in Banagher that evening, I bet Kerrigan thought it would always be like this.

Six years later and Claudy exited the championship at the hands of rivals Moneymore.  This weekend Kerrigan will probably be meeting at Peoples’ for a game with Claudy Rovers.  It’s not where he wants to be.  He would love to be preparing for a tilt at the championship, but he gives us his views on the weekend of action.

Lissan v Moneymore - I can see this being a low scoring affair with a goal being the deciding factor. Both teams are physically strong all over the pitch and it being a local derby means there will be a little extra spice between the teams.
For Moneymore a lot will depend on how Paudie O'Neill plays, he can win games on his own.  They still need the likes of big Christy Young in midfield will have to win possession to get him on the ball.
Lissan aren't lacking in options up front as we seen against Steelstown in the previous round. However if they are to have any chance they will need to do a good man-marking job on Paudie.
Verdict: Moneymore by 4
Swatragh's Mickey Friel
Swatragh v Steelstown - Swatragh definitely have the edge on Steelstown when it comes to strength and experience but Steelstown are a very fit young team with natural runners of the ball all over the field.

Michael Friel was easily one of Derry’s better players in the Championship this year and has only improved since Brennan gave him his chance. Steelstown will have to employ some sort of tactics to curb Friel’s influence in the middle third.

Steelstown showed last year they are no pushovers, a kick of a ball away from their first intermediate championship.  This will drive them on to go one step further this year. However, they will need to win their fair share of ball around the middle.
Verdict: Swatragh by 6.

Drumsurn v Ballymaguigan - Drumsurn shocked everyone with their display against Foreglen in their last Championship outing.  Many will think that was Drumsurn’s Championship final but if they can rediscover that form against ‘The Quigan’ they might just come away with a Semi Final spot.

Drumsurn's Ciaran Mullan

It has been the case for many years that if Banty [Ciaran] Mullan plays well, Drumsurn play well. If he is firing on all cylinders Drumsurn will be hard to stop.

Ballymaguigan seem to be struggling a bit this year, they no longer have that 4/5 points guaranteed from Gary Coleman like in previous years. They struggled to come away with a point against Sean Dolan’s a few weeks back. 

The championship is different, as they have shown in the past that they are very much a championship team.
Verdict: Drumsurn by 1

Slaughtmanus v Craigbane - Many have tipped this game as tie of the round. Both will fancy themselves as being able to go the whole way and claim the intermediate title.

Craigbane are strong throughout the team but I have doubts about their defence. Slaughtmanus will have learnt a lot from their year in senior football and this will have brought many of their young players on.

They are a fit team but are also very strong down the middle. This game will rely on the midfield battle, whoever comes out on top, and gets more ball into the danger areas, will win.
Verdict: Slaughtmanus by 3

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