Bredagh plotting to upset the odds on Friday evening, while Carryduff face Longstone on Saturday
EVEN the most ardent gambler will concede that the bookmakers are rarely wrong. Yet, despite not being a betting man himself, Bredagh coach Martin Durkan was surprised to learn that Mayobridge are as short as 1/10 to defeat the South Belfast side in their Down SFC clash at Liatroim tonight (Friday, 7.15pm).
Bredagh are priced up at 11/2 to cause an upset. While Durkan doesn’t argue with the fact that Mayobridge ought to be favourites, he was bemused at the gap in the odds.
“That’s a but unfair in any two-horse race,” stated Durkan.
“I’m not much of a gambler myself, but that’s food for thought.”
Before Kilcoo’s reign, Mayobridge were the dominant force in Down football, but they haven’t lifted the Frank O’Hare Cup since 2008 – the year they won the Championship for the fifth consecutive season.
Under the guidance of former Armagh star Ciaran McKeever, they finished third in Division One and gave the Magpies a solid test in the first round, losing 4-9 to 1-12.
Yet, they struggled to put away Loughinisland in the last round, eventually winning 1-19 to 0-14 and Durkan believes Bredagh could have been facing an even tougher challenge following their luckless defeat to Ballyholland in the last round.
“The likes of Warrenpoint would have been a very tough draw,” said Durkan.
“Our neighbours Carryduff are quite strong as well. It is something different and it is definitely not the worst draw we could have gotten.
“Mayobridge haven’t won anything in a while, but they have been playing in the top division for a long time and they have that strength-in-depth.
“I think a lot of people were surprised that Loughinisland pushed them the way they did and took the game to extra-time.
“We are definitely looking forward to it. We haven’t come up against them very often in senior level in recent times.
“I watched them against Kilcoo in the first game and they gave Kilcoo their fill of it, particularly in the first half. It was a lot tighter than the final score suggested.”
While Brendan Mason, Frank Dawson and Durkan prepare the Bredagh for tonight’s must-win Championship battle, there is still a deep sense of regret in the camp that they aren’t awaiting the quarter-final draw instead.
They led Ballyholland for the majority of their second round tie last Sunday in Castlewellan only to be denied an automatic place in the last eight following a wonder goal by Mark Walsh to give his side a 2-10 to 1-11 victory.
“We were in front for most of the game and we were a few points up at half-time,” reflected Durkan.
“We were very happy with our performance at that stage. We were unlucky to concede a goal straight after Donal Hughes had scored a well-worked goal for us.
“We were on top again in the second half, but in the fourth quarter we struggled to keep the scoreboard tickling over. A few more points probably would have been enough at that stage and we were caught with a real sucker punch at the end. It was a spectacular goal to be fair – it was a good finish.
“I think Ballyholland knew they got out of jail – it was a bit of a body-blow.”
Bredagh remain without the services of key defender Michael Woods while Paddy McLaughlin (ankle) and Matthew Hamilton (hamstring) are major doubts.
Mayobridge are a formidable side and they’ll look to Down star Corey Quinn for the bulk of their scores, but tonight’s game is unlikely to be anywhere near as one-sided as the bookies suggest and it wouldn’t be a massive shock to see Bredagh edge a tight game.
Carryduff, meanwhile, also have their own injury problems ahead of their meeting with Longstone at Newcastle on Saturday (throw-in 4pm).
DJ Morgan’s side suffered a 3-8 to 0-13 loss to Downpatrick in the first round, but bounced back to record a 3-20 to 2-10 win over Saul at Liatroim last Friday night.
However, defenders John McGeough, Conor Cassidy and Conor McCullagh played no part last week while leading attacker Ronan Beatty was also a late withdrawal from the first 15.
McGeough is unlikely to feature as he continues to recover from a knee injury, but Morgan will be hoping that he can get some game time from Beatty, who also missed the defeat to Downpatrick.
Carryduff will be fancied to progress to the last eight, but they’ll take nothing for granted against a Longstone side who caused the shock of the Championship so far when they defeated Division One winners Warrenpoint in the first round.
With Beatty sidelined, Carryduff had to gain scores from other outlets last Friday night with defenders Michael McGrath (0-4) and Daniel Guinness (1-3) impressing while captain Joe McFlynn hit 1-5 with 1-2 coming from play.
If Carryduff repeat that showing, they ought to have enough to see off the challenge of Longstone and book their place in the quarter-finals.