Ulster Club Football semi-finals: Intriguing ties in prospect

Crossmaglen's Johnny Hanratty challenges Kilcoo's Paul Greenan in the 2013 Ulster Club quarter-final replay
Crossmaglen's Johnny Hanratty and Kilcoo's Paul Greenan are expected to have another midfield battle on Sunday
AIB Ulster Club SFC semi-finals: Kilcoo v Crossmaglen; Scotstown v Trillick
Venues: Pairc Esler & Brewster Park Date: Sun, 15 Nov Throw-ins: 14:30 GMT
Coverage: Commentary on BBC Radio Ulster MW and BBC Sport website

Sunday's two Ulster Club Football semi-final are two fascinating match-ups with Crossmaglen facing Kilcoo and Scotstown up against Trillick.

Crossmaglen's game with Kilcoo at Newry will be the renewal of a rivalry which has had a decided edge in recent years.

Rangers defeated Kilcoo in a niggly Ulster final in 2012 only for Kilcoo to avenge that - after a replay - at the Ulster last-eight stage a year later.

Scotstown go into the other semi-final after downing holders Slaughtneil.

Crossmaglen, seeking an 11th Ulster title, will believe that they are capable of avenging the 2013 defeat by the Down champions.

Crossmaglen close to full strength

The south Armagh club started without Aaron Kernan, David McKenna, James Morgan and Jamie Clarke that day and all four are likely to be involved this weekend.

Clarke's return to the Cross squad after ending his latest travels in the USA has to be regarded as a huge boost for joint-managers Oisin McConville and John McEntee.

The fleet-footed Clarke may not start at Pairc Esler but surely will see action at some stage of the contest.

The rivalry between the two clubs was heightened by the claim by Cross forward Aaron Cunningham that he was racially abused during the 2012 provincial decider.

Suspensions were later handed out to Kilcoo personnel although a couple of these were later reduced.

There has not been a significant turnover in personnel in both squads since the 2012 and 2013 games.

Trillick's Lee Brennan celebrates after his team's Tyrone final win over Killyclogher
Lee Brennan and his Trillick team-mates were playing intermediate football in Tyrone as recently as last year

The Kernan brothers Aaron, Stephen and Tony remain key contributors of Crossmaglen scores while Kyle Carragher and Johnny Murtagh are important members of the Armagh side's attack.

The all-Branagan brothers full-back line of Niall, Aidan and Daryl will be tasked with subduing the Cross attack with Down player Darragh O'Hanlon also an important component in the Kilcoo defence.

Kilcoo's key offensive performers remain Conor Laverty, Paul Devlin and the Johnston brothers Jerome and Ryan so Paul Hughes, Paul McKeown, James Morgan and the other Cross defenders will all have important roles.

Scotstown will be aiming to stay on course for a fifth Ulster title - but first since 1989 - in Sunday's other semi-final against a Trillick side that were playing intermediate football in Tyrone as recently as last year.

Trillick were rank outsiders to win the Tyrone title at the start of this year but the displays of Mattie Donnelly, Niall Gormley and the Brennan brothers Lee and Rory have spurred them to a remarkable 2015 Odyssey.

However, Trillick will surely face their toughest test to date against a Scotstown team spearheaded by the Hughes brothers Darren and Kiernan.

Both Hughes boys starred in their 1-15 to 0-15 quarter-final victory over Slaughtneil when young attacking talent Conor McCarthy also impressed.

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