Previews Club fixtures
Connacht Club SFC semi-finals
Salthill-Knocknacarra (Galway) v St Brigid’s (Roscommon)
The frustration of All-Ireland defeat over the past two seasons will be eating away at Brigid’s but they will also be mindful of having ended the season of the last two Galway champions, Corofin in a controversial final last year, and Killererin the year before. Salthill have quality players although a back injury threatens the participation of Gary Cox but their form doesn’t look on the same level as the champions. Now on a three-in-a-row, Brigid’s have the experience and class to push on towards that milestone.
Ballaghadereen (Mayo) v Curry (Sligo)
In what was a war of attrition, Ballagh dethroned back-to-back champions Ballintubber in the county final but showed enough structure and fitness to fight their corner. As was noted by Curry manager Anthony Brennan, Sligo clubs have a poor record in the championship and whereas his side, county champions for the first time in six years, have Adrian Marren – man of the match in Sligo’s big win over Galway during the summer – in form with a haul of 10 in the county final, the Mayo champions look stronger.
Munster Club SHC semi-finals
Thurles Sarsfields (Tipperary) v Sarsfields (Cork)
Thurles have the air of a team on a mission this year. The club’s under-achievement in the provincial championship has left a legacy of just one bungled final appearance but with the talent at their disposal that should be remedied. Their Cork namesakes have also enjoyed success in the county – three titles in five years – but similarly haven’t registered outside, losing twice to De La Salle. Their attack is driven by Cian McCarthy with the towering Michael Cussen at full forward. Thurles have All Stars in defence with Michael Cahill and Pádraic Maher and former UCC stalwart Johnny Enright playing centrefield plus the dead ball accuracy of Pa Bourke up front as well as the ubiquitous Lar Corbett. They look like they mean business.
Newmarket-on-Fergus (Clare) v De La Salle (Waterford)
Clare clubs have been remarkably competitive in Munster without actually winning but it will be interesting to see how Newmarket have recovered from a first county title in 30 years. They’re up against two-times champions De La Salle who have been playing well and even with the burden of having to travel, have the edge.
Ulster Club SFC quarter-final
Crossmaglen Rangers (Armagh) v St Eunan’s (Donegal)
No sign of the Cross juggernaut slowing and the eternal south Armagh club presents itself for a crack at a 10th Ulster title in 17 years. Eunan’s did well to battle through the compressed Donegal championship and in last week’s final they put in a striking rearguard action to deny Naomh Conaill. The champions don’t panic so are nearly impossible to keep at bay