The draws for the Donegal Intermediate and Junior Championships were made on Wednesday night and have thrown up some interesting ties for local sides.
Both championships will open with group stages, following on from the successful introduction of a league format in the Donegal Senior Football Championship last year.
The Intermediate championship will be split into three groups of four. Teams will play each other once, and the top two teams in each group, as well as the two best third placed teams, will advance to the quarter finals.
A series of play-offs determine which team is relegated to the Junior Championship for 2015.
Carndonagh and Buncrana have been drawn alongside Milford and Naomh Columba in Group 1 of the Intermediate championship. An all Division 3 group which features last year’s Junior Champions Milford, on paper this looks like easiest section to negotiate. Buncrana and Carn will both quietly fancy their chances of progressing from it.
Group 2 features Naomh Colmcille and Burt alongside Cloughaneely and St Naul’s. It’s a proverbial group of death for the local sides. Cloughaneely have dropped down from the senior club championship last season, while St Naul’s won the Intermediate Championship as recently as 2011 and were beaten finalists last term. Burt and Newtown will really have their work cut out if they’re to advance to the quarter finals.
There’s no local interest in Group 3, which features Fanad Gaels, Downings, Naomh Bríd and Aodh Ruadh Ballyshannon. Fanad and Downings both play their league football in Division 2 and will be expected to reach the quarter finals of the Intermediate Championship.
The Intermediate Reserve championship has the same draw and format as the first team equivalent.
Junior A Championship
There are three Inishowen sides in the Junior A Football Championship which will have two groups of five where the top two teams in each group will advance to the semi finals.
Urris, who were beaten finalists in last year’s JFC, have been drawn with Na Rossa, Naomh Ultan, Robert Emmet’s and Red Hugh’s. Urris and Red Hugh’s are the only teams in the Junior Championship that will play Division 3 league football, and both will be expected to reach the semi finals from this group.
In Group 2, Moville and Naomh Pádraig have been drawn with Lifford, Convoy and Letterkenny Gaels. This is a very evenly matched group. Muff have been training hard under new manager Charlie Molloy since well before Christmas and have some key players returning to the squad this year. Similarly Moville have strengthened over the winter and under Gerard Faulkner will be targeting promotion in the league and a repeat of the 2010 Junior Championship winning season.
Junior B Championship
The Junior B championship follows the old two-leg-with-a-playoff-if-necessary format.
In it, Moville have a home draw with Lifford, while Naomh Pádraig Iskaheen have been drawn away to Naomh Ultan.
Urris were not listed in the draw circulated by the competitions control committee.
The U21 championship draws were also made on Wednesday night.
Both the A & B Championships will be played on a straight knockout format.
Malin and Buncrana will compete in the U21A Championship, while Urris, Moville, Naomh Colmcille and Burt will play in the B Championship.
Buncrana, last year’s Donegal minor football champions, have stepped up to the U21A championship and have been handed a difficult opening tie, albeit at home, with Ardara.
Malin have also been given a home tie against Cloughaneely.
In the U21B championship Urris and Moville have been handed away ties in the preliminary round against Robert Emmet’s and Bundoran respectively. Should they win those games, Urris will then make the short trip to Carn for their first round game, while Moville will go on the road again away to Killybegs.
In the first round proper, Naomh Colmcille have been drawn at home to Naomh Bríd while Burt, beaten U21B finalists last year, make the short hop to Glencolmcille to play Naomh Columba.