Magilligan v Ogra Colmcille
Sunday (5.00) – Glen
Ref: Michael McLaughlin (Ardmore)
Transition is the key term in both camps as 2016 winners Magilligan lock horns with Ogra Colmcille in the last of the weekend’s round one games.
It is a repeat of last season’s qualifier clash when the Drummullan men knocked Magilligan out of the championship
The change begins on the sidelines. With Darren McShane returning to his native Slaughtmanus, Magilligan moved along the north coast for his replacement and appointed former Coleraine player Leo Sweeney as their new manager.
Ogra Colmcille lost the services of Paul Quinn, who joined Adrian Cush’s management team in Magherafelt. The Ógs didn’t appoint his successor until mid-season, with former Castledawson boss Paddy Linden answering the call.
The goalkeeping of Michael Doherty, who also scored the winning point in the 2016 final, has been missing from Magilligan’s armoury all year. They have also been without the Aaron Canning, Martin McIvor, Lee and Paddy Gaile.
In Doherty’s absence Cathal and Adam McLaughlin have shared the goalkeeping duties.
Ciaran O’Hare, the top scorer in 2016, missed much of the season but has returned to training in recent weeks and has returned alongside Cathal McCrudden at midfield.
Sweeney is sweating over the fitness of captain Conor Canning, with an ankle injury which followed a knee complaint. Magilligan will need him firing on all cylinders alongside dangerman James Payne and goal-poacher Conor Logue.
They will hope that the experienced gained in the league will arm youngsters James Gaile, Kevin Moran, Sean McLaughlin and Tom Mullan to step into the championship mix.
If Magilligan are building a new team, then so too are Ogra Colmcille who after their constant promising championship forays, have been rocked with absentees.
Chris Collins made a brief return last season before getting sent off 14 minutes in their game with Magilligan and hasn’t featured this season.
Mark Bell is out injured. They have lost Nice Slevin who transferred to the Tyrone club in New York.
Missing is the versatility of Ryan Taylor and the injured Mark McLaughlin. Cormac Murphy and Mark Collins are back in the fold and will form the spine of their defence.
Conor McCloy is also a huge loss, with the option of him starting at midfield or full-forward.
Shane, Thomas and Stephen Devlin are still in the mix. As are Ciaran McDonald, Declan Campbell, Dan O’Neill and Sean Conway.
Goalkeeper Ryan McGuckin, who made a breath-taking save at a vital stage in last year’s clash, is still on board, but Mark Devlin played much of the league between the posts.
Patrick Scott, Padraig Nevin, Shea McIvor and Eoghan Wilkinson joined from nearby Ballinderry. Wicklow man Gavin Harris transferred in but has since left the panel.
Numbers has always been the issue, but when they had everyone available the Ógs were among the league’s best sides.
Of their last three league games, the clashes with Magilligan and Glack were postponed. Ardmore didn’t field for the third on a day when Ogra had their biggest panel of players available to them. It has hampered Linden from assessing his best team, after coming in late in the season.
Ogra react best when backed into a corner but Magilligan’s more settled side and with a tough game under their belt last weekend against Moneymore, they may just shade it, combined with the memory of last year’s defeat.
Full coverage from all four round 1 games in Tuesday's County Derry Post.
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