Leitrim Intermediate Football Championships 2020

After months of no competitive sporting action, it’s back. We have a full round of championship fixtures to look forward to this weekend as the Smith Monumentals Intermediate Football Championships bursts back onto the playing pitches across the county.

While the Senior Championship tends to get the lions share of attention it’s in the Intermediate grade where the real competition hots up. Each of the ten teams in the draw will genuinely fancy their chances of winning against any other rival in this year’s championship providing supporters with a real nail biting season ahead for all clubs.

The restructuring and tightening up of the club championship structures after last year’s campaigns has greatly increased the standard in the competition which is going to be fascinating to follow across the year.

Last year’s finalists Drumkeerin will be joined by relegated sides Gortletteragh & Dromahair, 2019 semi finalists Ballinaglera & Annaduff, perennial challengers Eslin and potential dark horses Carrigallen in holding a belief that they can go all the way to the crown.

Bornacoola, Kiltubrid and Aughnasheelin, while capable of taking a scalp off any opponent who underestimates them, might just be at too early a stage of their rebuilding phases to make a consistent push for the top honours but don’t be surprised to see any of them create a shock or two this summer.

You can hear the thoughts of a player or coach from each participating club ahead of the start of the championship on Episode 205 of the Leitrim Daily podcast.

Annaduff

Manager: Karl Foley (Second Season)

Captain: Alan Glancy

SFC Titles: 2 (Last in 2004) / IFC Titles: 1 (Last in 2001)

2019: Semi Finalists, 2nd in 6 Team Group

Having seen their bid stutter at the Semi Final stage last year, in a tightly fought defeat to the eventual champions, Annaduff will be eager to get back to the final stage after losing the decider in 2018 to Fenagh.

That Semi Final will be in the back of their minds as they open the championship season in the coutny this evening in Cloone with a clash against Kiltubrid.

The addition of Jack Hughes adds some energy in the centre of the field but manager Karl Foley will have to prepare for action without the services of a large number of players including stalward David Duignan who has retired.

They impressed in stages in some of their challenge outings and will cause problems for any of the teams at this grade. I’d expect them to be involved in the business end of this year’s compeition.

Leitrim Daily Prediction: Semi Final, 1st in Group B

Aughnasheelin

Manager: Bryan Whitney (First Season)

Captain: TBC

IFC Titles: 2 (Last in 2017)

2019: Relegated from Senior Football

Entering a rebuilding phase can be a tough time for a club, with former Drumreilly and Leitrim Gaels boss Bryan Whitney taking the reins of the club it promises to be a bright future for the club if they can continue to produce players.

It might all be a little too difficult for this season though with a tough campaign ahead expected for Aughnasheelin this year. The loss of the three McWeeney brothers and Ciaran Cullen will be hard felt in the club although there is enough experience in the shape of Wayne Gilgunn, Conor Cullen & Aaron Hoare amongst others to guide them to a Quarter Final slot. It may be as far as the campaign with go for this year though.

The rumoured return of the evergreen Martin McHugh to their goal is an interesting development 26 years after helping Leitrim to Connacht Championship success.

Leitrim Daily Prediction: Quarter Final, 4th in Group A

Ballinaglera

Manager: Kevin Nolan (Second Season)

Captain: TBC

IFC Titles: 1 (Last in 1996)

2019: Semi Finalists, 2nd in 6 Team Group

The Ballinaglera club are never too far away at this level and this season will be no different. Kevin Nolan returns as their manager for his second season and with no major changes to their panel it will be a fairly settled side who will line out against Bornacoola tomorrow evening.

They will be looking to the scoring power of Wayne Reynolds and Enda Maguire upfront while Seamus McMorrow along with brothers Thomas & Padraig Cornyn will need to be on their game to see Ballinaglera turn back the clock 24 years to lift the Intermediate Championship this season.

Leitrim Daily Prediction: Quarter Final, 3rd in Group A

Bornacoola

Manager: Seamus Mallon (Second Season)

Captain: TBA

SFC Titles: 4 (Last in 1957) / IFC Titles: 0

2019: Quarter Finalists, 4th in 6 Team Group

It was a fine margin between survival and relegation last season for the ‘Bors and with the restructuring redrawing the line at the bottom of the Intermediate grade the Dromod men will find the going tough again this year.

Seamus Mallon is a seasoned campaigner at the helm of many school, club and county sides over the years and will squeeze every last drop of effort from each player but it’s going to be a long year ahead for them.

The loss of Michael Duignan and Gary McCloskey from the squad will leave a chasm of experience at the heart of the team but the return of Philip Howard will help in that regard.

Shane Mallon, a provincial rugby champion last year, joins his brother Cian on the squad this season and will add some power and speed to their side but it’s going to be a season of rebuilding and learning for the Black and Amber this season. May sneak into the knock out stages with a scalp or two.

Leitrim Daily Prediction: Relegation, 5th in Group A

Carrigallen

Manager: Brian Doyle (Second Season)

Captain: Gary Reynolds

SFC Titles: 2 (1945) / IFC Titles: 2 (2006)

2019: Quarter Finalists, 4th in 6 Team Group

Always under the radar, out on the Cavan border, Carrigallen could be the surprise package of this championship. Gary Reynolds as captain will be a rock in defence while Gerald Percival will provide a creative outlet for the club who contested a senior final as recently as 2009, only losing that game by a single point.

This is a different era though and the current crop gave a good account of themselves in last year’s competition. They’ll be looking to build on that quarter final performance and while they should qualify it might not be as comfortable as they would like.

In what is a very tight championship this year Carrigallen will look to Eoin Ward, who’s always likely to hit the net to help push them to the later rounds.

Leitrim Daily Prediction: Quarter Final, 4th in Group B

Drumkeerin

Manager: Francis Davitt (Second Season)

Captain: TBA

IFC Titles: 0 / JFC Titles: 3 (Last in 1985)

2019: Finalists, 4th in 6 Team Group

Disappointed with the defeat in the county final last season Drumkeerin must be the early favourites with most people to finally break their duck at this level. Their record of never having lifted the Intermediate Championship doesn’t do them justice with numerous slender final defeats in recent years.

New boss, Aughawillan man, Ciaran McTague will be eager to hit the ground running but a tough start against Annaduff has been served up by the fixture gods.

Colm Clarke has been central to that constant challenge over the last decade or so and along with Cathal McCauley will be eager to lead the club to championship success and the Senior Football that awaits the evenutal champions.

The return of Phelim and Patrick McHugh to the squad provides a greater choice for Francis Davitt who returns to the sideline after their final appearance last season.

Every nuetral in the county will be cheering on Drumkeerin and this group deserve a winners medal to show for their efforts in recent seasons, especially the older members of the squad.

Leitrim Daily Prediction: Champions, 1st Group B

Eslin

Manager: Liam Higgins & Barry Martin (First Season)

Captain: Eamon Stenson

IFC Titles: 0 / JFC Titles: 10 (Last in 2010)

2019: Quarter Finalists, 1st in 6 Team Group

The lethal Conor Beirne will ensure to keep the scoreboard ticking over as Eslin will once again put the fear of god into every single opponent this summer.

Much more than a one man army, Eamonn & Jamie Stenson and the other Beirne brothers will provide ample support to a side who could potentially emulate Leitrim Gaels debut victory at this level.

Eslin are a dogged side and will never accept defeat until the final whistle, clubs will be genuinely worried making the trip to Eslin this year.

Leitrim Daily Prediction: Semi Final, 2nd in Group A

Gortletteragh

Manager: Paul McGuire (First Season)

Captain: Jack Heslin

SFC Titles: 5 (Last in 1987)

2019: Relegated from Senior Football

It’s all change in Gortletteragh for 2020 as a new boss in Paul McGuire will oversee their return to the Intermediate grade after an 8 year gap.

There are rumours of a large number of retirements from last season with Cathal McCrann and Cathal Quinn stepping away from the panel this term. On the plus side James Cunningham and Kieran Reen have graduated from underage football while Gerard Campbell returns from an injury to play this year.

Jack Heslin will be their danger man but they will have players who can trouble any side at this level. If they can lift morale and hit the ground running quickly they could challenge for the title but a solid showing blooding younger players is a more realistic ambition for the year ahead.

Leitrim Daily Prediction: Quarter Final, 3rd in Group B

Kiltubrid

Manager: Ciaran McTague (First Season)

Captain: Michael McCormack & Kealan McKeon

SFC Titles: 1 (Last in 2005) / IFC Titles: 1 (Last in 2002)

2019: Quarter Finalists, 3rd in 6 Team Group

It’s difficult to evaluate where Kiltubrid will be this season, disappointing by their own standards in 2019 although with a Division 4 league title indicating a deepening of their talent pool and a bright future for the club.

It might be another year or two before those prospects come through properly and survival in the Intermediate ranks would be considered a decent season for a side who might do enough to squeeze into the knockout stages.

Leitrim Daily Prediction: Win Relegation Playoff, 5th in Group B

St. Patrick’s Dromahair

Manager: Padraig Clancy (First Season)

Captain: Michael Clancy

SFC Titles: 0 / IFC Titles: 1 (Last in 2014)

2019: Relegated from Senior Football

A new manager, a new division and a new dawn for the North Leitrim men as they look to bounce back to senior at the first time of asking.

They looked disinterested at stages of games last season but at Intermeidate level with more or less a full squad available post covid lockdown they won’t fear any of their opponents. Will mount a challenge this season and will take a serious effort to beat this year.

They will be looking to Jamie Conlon, Shane Fowley and Gary & Cian Clinton to guide their relatively young panel through the group and once in the knockout stages a lot will depend on the draw and their oppenents.

Leitrim Daily Prediction: Runners Up, 2nd Place in Group B


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