National Football League Division Three North – Round Three Preview
By Aidan Delaney
Allianz Football League Roinn 3 North
Cavan v Derry
In all truth, this game was always going to be the major test for both of these sides. Free scoring Derry will know they won’t get the run of Kingspan Breffni this weekend while the hosts will want to prove that their week one loss to Fermanagh was just a blip. You have to wonder what kind of impact a ferocious if limited home crowd would have for this game with supporters returning to games up North from Saturday. However, geography means Cavan will have to make their own noise from the bench as they try to stop the juggernaut in red and white.
Rory Gallagher has certainly blown the tired and lame clichés about puke football out of the water with the Oakleafers. Winning margins against Longford and Fermanagh ran to 16 points and 19 points respectively and it could be argued that Derry took their foot off the gas in both games. Key to those attacking masterclasses has been the maestro Conor Glass. The conductor of the all out bombardment going forward, he’s provided the platform for the likes of Shane McGuigan and Ethan Doherty to shine. Gallagher may well be more impressed by a misery defence headed by the rock solid Gareth McKinless who has also popped forward for a few scores.
Mickey Graham’s men got back to business with a 6 point win over Fermanagh last time out in trying conditions. Extended injury time periods at the end of both halves needed ultra concentration from the Ulster champions and they showed they were up to the challenge. Despite that fighting spirit, the Breffni boss has been lamenting the lack of preparation time and will once again be without Ulster Player of the Year Thomas Galligan for this meeting. Gearoid McKiernan has lead the way for the homeside while Patrick Lynch will need another big performance to make sure Cavan convert every opportunity that comes their way.
Fermanagh v Longford
Just 32 miles separates Brewster Park to Kingspan Breffni but the former will take a huge step forward this weekend with rabid and hungry hardcore Ernesider fans allowed to be the 16th man on Saturday. The fairness of this situation will be debated but Longford will know that their stay in Division 3 is in jeopardy unless their buck up their ideas against Ryan McMenamin’s side. The former Tyrone star has a job on his hands to shake his men out of the slumber they picked up during their second half mauling by Derry in week 2.
Longford face the relegation playoff and know that a momentum boosting win here will be another step of progress after an improved performance against Cavan. With the victors playing the last 9 minutes with 14 men though, Padriag Davis knows they left that one behind them. Simply put, Longford need to have more of an impact off the bench as only 1 sub has pointed in their opening 2 affairs. They’ve allowed the games to run away from them in the championship moments and that can’t be allowed continue. Darren Gallagher has provided a focal point but he’ll need to be more than just a standard bearer if they’re to get a result.
Marking his man out of the game was a trademark of Ricey’s successful career with the Red Hand which is why he’ll have been furious with the collapse against Derry. A knife through butter doesn’t begin to describe it and some harsh words will have been had at training. The boss has been highlighting the return of Sean Quigley this week but he’ll need support from the likes of Tiarnan Bogue and Sean Cassidy to take the heat from the Roslea sharpshooter. Fermanagh have the talent to win this game and McMenamin will know a quick start will get the fans onside and give the Slashers an uphill battle in Enniskillen.