Weekend GAA Previews

A look ahead to Saturday and Sunday’s Gaelic Football fixtures

In-form Paul Conroy will start at full forward for Galway against Laois. Photo:  James Crombie/Inpho  In-form Paul Conroy will start at full forward for Galway against Laois. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

In-form Paul Conroy will start at full forward for Galway against Laois. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho In-form Paul Conroy will start at full forward for Galway against Laois. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho



Allianz Football League ( 7.0 unless stated]

Division One
Dublin v Cork, Croke Park
(Live, Setanta Ireland)
There will be at most just one team with a 100 per cent record in the division tonight. The form line says that Cork have been more impressive and the vibe in the county is upbeat under Brian Cuthbert’s new management. Aidan Walsh and Eoin Cadogan lay down their hurls for this weekend to return to the team with Walsh’s presence important against Dublin’s first-choice pairing of Macauley and O’Sullivan. There is also speculation that Colm O’Neill may get a run off the bench for his first league start after recovering (again) from serious injury. Dublin have been sluggish and low-scoring (0-14 per match) so far but can step it up this evening.

Division Two
Down v Louth, Newry
Another neighbourhood rivalry for Louth, who are now in need of points after dropping three to date in disappointing circumstances. Aidan O’Rourke makes four changes for the trip to his former team but Brian White is still unavailable. Down have shown great resilience to pull their three points to date out of the fire and although they are missing players, they have shown a resilience and energy, which will be enough this evening.

aois v Galway, O’Moore Park
Galway’s season has begun with a whimper, suffering hefty beatings from Donegal and Meath, and a win here is urgent business for Alan Mulholland’s side. Paul Conroy (pictured above) has been going – and scoring – well at centrefield but commences the familiar shuttle to full forward according to the team selection. Laois showed great character down to 14 against Louth and will expect to maintain form here.

Meath v Armagh, Páirc Tailteann
(Live, Setanta Sports One)
Meath’s extreme outings so far have in common that they started so poorly in both games and rallied in the second half. They also required penalty saves from Paddy O’Rourke against both Galway and Monaghan, which together with 20-points-plus concessions suggests work is needed at the back but the attack also struggled in Monaghan. Armagh are missing captain Ciarán McKeever for the rest of the league and redeploy Charlie Vernon as a centre back. Meath have better in them.

Hurling Inter-provincial championship final
Leinster v Connacht, Croke Park, 5.0
Connacht chase a first interpro double after last week’s long-awaited football title. The Galway-based team has the advantage of cohesiveness but Joe Dooley’s Leinster side is a strong selection and can spoil the party.

Allianz Football League
(2.0 unless stated)

Division One
Mayo v Kerry, MacHale Park
(Live, TG4)
Eamonn Fitzmaurice has had to put up with a lot so far, losing two Footballer of the Year award winners in February and picking up no points. Colm Cooper’s club-mate Daithí Casey makes his debut and is handed the captaincy all at once for the trip to Castlebar. Mayo have averaged 0-20 per match but lost both, which says something about the usually tight defence. Even up front there could have been better conversion rates. Alan Freeman starts for the first time in attack and Adam Gallagher gets further opportunity to show his promise and challenge for a permanent place. Both teams could do with a win but Mayo look more likely to get it.
KERRY : B Kealy; P Murphy, M Griffin, S Enright; P Crowley, A O’Mahony, M Ó Sé; A Maher, D Moran; S O’Brien, D Casey, D Walsh; BJ Keane, P Geaney, J O’Donoghue. Subs: B Kelly, C Cox, B McGuire, J Sherwood, M Geaney, J Buckley, F Fitzgerald, P Kilkenny, D Culhane, A Fitzgerald, D O’Sullivan.
MAYO: R Hennelly; B Harrison, G Cafferkey, K Keane; L Keegan, S McHale, C Boyle; A O’Shea, J Gibbons; K McLoughlin, A Moran, K Higgins; A Gallagher, A Freeman, M Conroy.

Kildare v Tyrone, Newbridge
(deferred, TG4
Tyrone had an excellent first home match, against Mayo, which showcased their up-and-coming forward talent. Seán Cavanagh’s in for his first start and this should be an interesting test of both sides. Kildare were flattered in Cork by their injury-time goal and struggled to stay the pace with the home team. It was just the first defeat for Jason Ryan but he’ll have his work cut out coping with Tyrone’s ‘total football’.
KILDARE: S Connolly; M O’Grady, M Foley, H McGrillen; K Murnaghan, F Conway, P Cribbin; T Moolick, G White; C McNally, E O’Flaherty, S Hurley; P Brophy, T O’Connor, D Mulhall.

Derry v Westmeath, Celtic Park, 2.30
Of the two promoted counties, Derry are in better shape. Westmeath threw everything at Dublin but lost out and maintaining that effort throughout the campaign will be challenging. Captain Mark Lynch is named at centrefield and overall Derry have too much momentum and appetite for the visitors.

Division Two
Donegal v Monaghan, Letterkenny

A rerun of the Ulster final with both teams going well although there’s a steely sense of purpose about Donegal as Jim McGuinness hopes to get the recovery off to a good start with promotion. Conor McManus made a big impact on his return for Monaghan against Meath but Donegal look too strong.

Division Three
Longford v Fermanagh, Pearse Park
Fermanagh’s bounce-back against Sligo without Séamus Quigley, left out for disciplinary reasons, was impressive although Sligo were down to 13 men but with Brian Cavanagh due to return from injury the pendulum swings to Jack Sheedy’s team.

Roscommon v Limerick, Dr Hyde Park
Roscommon gave a fine display against Wexford and sit top of the table. They should pick up the points here although Limerick were boosted by John Galvin’s commitment for another year.

Sligo v Offaly, Markievicz Park
Already this has the feel of a relegation struggle and Sligo’s home advantage makes them more likely winners than Offaly.

Wexford v Cavan, Wexford Park
Terrible result for Wexford in Kiltoom three weeks ago administered a significant blow to the county’s chances of promotion. Home advantage will help in a must-win match if the situation is be retrieved but with Martin Dunne and Eugene Keating sparking Cavan can prevail.

Division Four
Antrim v Waterford, Creggan, 1.
Given the junior club hurling controversy, Waterford might have preferred a different fixture and it’s unlikely to be crowned by success.

Clare v Wicklow, Cusack Park

Top two meet but Wicklow have to make the trip and might struggle.

Leitrim v Carlow, Carrick-on-Shannon
Leitrim are riding high and should maintain that against Carlow.

London v Tipperary, Ruislip
On a line of form through Carlow this won’t end well for the home team.

NHL Division Two A
Derry v London, Celtic Park, nb 12.30
– Derry to maintain the push after a great win against Westmeath.

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