Kukri Qualifying League Preview Saturday 1st February 2014 by George Millar

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Only one game in Qualifying One this weekend with CIYMS playing Bangor at Belmont. Bangor will look to return to third place in the league with CIYMS fighting it out with Dromore and Ballymoney to secure that all important Top four placing. In Qualifying Two Ballyclare will look to stay ahead of their nearest challengers, Omagh, Academy and Randalstown. In Qualifying Three the top four meet with Donegal v Holywood and Larne entetaining Newry. The battle to avoid relegation involves fixtures between Monaghan v Lurgan and PSNI v letterkenny. In Qualifying Four Ophir remain undefeated with no contenders positioned to unseat the champions, such has been their dominance of the league this season.

Qualifying One

CIYMS (5th) v Bangor (4th)

Two points separate these two sides with Bangor coming of a well earned 29 -13 win at Banbridge in the Towns Cup. CIYMS have had three weeks off after their 46 – 6 mauling at home to Portadown. Their league game at Donaghadee two weeks ago was postponed due to a water logged pitch. Bangor coach Rupert Preston has placed great faith in his young playing squad as they push for a top four placing and qualification for the All Ireland Junior Cup. The North Down side face Junior Cup holders Ballynahinch seconds away in the Quarter finals of the Towns Cup on the 22nd February. Captain Jamie Clegg has been an inspirational leader for this well organised side who will prove too strong for the East Belfast side. After a promising start the Blemont side have failed to fulfil the clubs expectations for them this season. Captain Stuart Ferguson has much work to do to lift his players. When the two sides met at Upritchard Park after Xmas. Bangor ran out comfortable winners by 22 – 5. Bangor to win
Qualifying Two

Academy(3rd) v Randalstown(4th)

Very interesting fixture between these two sides at Roughfort. Eight points separate the two teams with Academy having played two games more than their opponents. Academy ran out 23 – 20 winners when the sides met at Neilsbrook in Sept. After being relegated last season Academy will push Omagh close for the prestige of finishing second in the league. Randalstown were well beaten in their last home league game against Omagh 29 – 3. Coach Gary Longwell will want to see an improved performance from his side. Academy to win

Ballyclare (1st) v Strabane (10th)

Top against bottom. Dont expect any surprises at the Cloughan this weekend. With their team well beaten 37 – 10 by Clogher Valley at home last Sat in the Towns Cup. Coach Bob Young will be able to focus his team on their number one goal of winning the league this season. The players will have been gutted by their performance last weekend. Maybe the defeat was timely and will focus the players on their remaining eight league games. Strabane suffered a 47 – 0 defeat away to Ballymoney last Sat in the Towns Cup. They remain without a league win after eleven matches. This is the first league meeting of the two sides this season. Ballyclare to win

Carrickfergus(8th) v Lisburn(4th)

When the two sides met in October at Blaris, Lisburn ran out narrow winners 25 – 22. Carrick have disappointed this season. They have put some good results together, but have lacked consistency. The faithful at the Tom Simms Memorial Park will expect their team to win after losing 25 – 0 to near neighbours Ballyclare three weeks ago. Interesting game. Lisburn have recorded emphatic wins over Limavady and Strabane in recent weeks. Lisburn to win

Omagh(2nd) v Limavady (9th)

The Tyrone side have made it through to the quarter finals of the Towns Cup after a hard earned 19 – 10 win over Larne at home last Sat. They remain in second place in the league four points behind leaders Ballyclare with one more game played. They require maximum points from this game against Limavady to keep up their outside hopes of promotion with seven games remaining. Despite winning games the Tyrone side have missed out on adding bonus points to close the gap on Ballyclare. This is the first meeting of the two sides this season. Omagh to win.
Qualifying Three

Donegal(4th) v Holywood (1st)

Fascinating contest in prospect at the Holmes in Donegal this weekend. When the two sides met at Kerr Park in Nov Holywood ran out 39 – 24 winners in a keenly contested game between the two sides. Donegal left Holywood feeling they should have got more from this game. Donegal will be disappointed they lost a ferocious encounter with Newry two weeks ago at home 30 – 22. Their game at Letterkenny last Sat was postponed due to a water logged pitch. Expect another fiesty encounter when thes two sides meet again. Holywood to win

Larne(2nd) v Newry(3rd)

When these two sides met at Telford Park in Nov Larne ran out 23 – 10 winners after a very physical encounter. Expect a repeat this weekend as both Newry and Larne fight out another bruising encounter. Both Donegal and Newry are fighting it out to finish third and would love to take the scalp of Larne or Holywood. Sure to attract a large crowd to the Glynn on Sat. Newry will have been boosted by their impressive 30 – 22 win at Donegal two weeks ago. Larne are coming of the back of a narrow 19 – 10 defeat at Omagh last Sat. Larne to win

Monaghan(7th) v Lurgan(6th)

With one point separating these two sides this is another crucial relegation contest this weekend. When the two sides met at Pollock Park in Nov, Monaghan ran out narrow winners 28 – 24. Lurgan are a much improved side under the guidance of Bruce Corneilius and beat the PSNI 17 -12 at Newforge two weeks ago. Last Sat at Kerr Park, Monaghan were beaten 52 – 0 by league leaders Holywood. Big game for both sides. Lurgan to win

PSNI(8th) v Letterkenny(5th)

Again crucial relegation game with four points separating the bottom four sides. When these two sides met in Nov, Letterkenny won 19 – 8. Expect another closely fought contest. PSNI lost their last league game at home to Lurgan 17 – 12. Letterkenny’s home game with Donegal last Sat was postponed due to a water logged pitch. Letterkenny to win

Qualifying Four

Civil Service (5th)v Armoy (7th)

These two sides have already met twice in the league with Service winning at home in October 22 – 0 and Armoy winning their only league game this season at Lime Park by 31 – 7 in Dec. Service lost 57 – 0 at home to league leaders Ophir last Sat at Stormont. Armoy conceded their league game at Cavan last Sat. It has been unfortunate that Armoy have been unable to fulfil away fixtures with Cavan and Virginia this season. This leaves them firmly rooted to the bottom of Q 4. Interesting game to call. Civil Service to win

Londonderry YMCA(6th) v Ophir(1st)

The trip to Drumahoe will hold no fears for the league leaders this weekend. They have already recorded wins over YMCA. Won at home 23 – 8 in Dec and 47 – 5 at Drumahoe in Nov. YMCA game at Virginia last Sat was postponed due to water logged pitch. Two weeks ago YMCA won their first league game of the season when they defeated Civil Service 27 – 10. Ophir warmed up for the game this weekend with a 57 – 0 win at Civil Service last Sat. Ophir remain undefeated this season in all competitions including eleven straight league wins. Impressive. Ophir to win.

Virginia(3rd) v Cavan(2nd)

Local Cavan derby at Swellan Park this weekend.The two sides have already met in the league with Virginia winning at home 32 – 21 in Oct and Cavan winning the home game in Dec 20 – 8. Cavan are four points ahead of Virginia having played two games more. Alot at stake this weekend as both teams battle it out for second place with pride to play for and the bragging rights. Virginia to win.

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