This weekend's GAA previews
Michael Meehan: back in action again for Galway
A roundup of all the weekend's action
NHL Division One B
Dublin v Offaly, Parnell Park, 7.0 – Live on Setanta Ireland
This division has all the room for manoeuvre of Russian roulette – six teams, nearly any of whom could kill you. Dublin have both Offaly and Limerick at home and need to make sure of home wins as promotion is vital to re-establishing the Dublin hurling project as viable.
The mood music has been a bit strained in the close season with the tilt to football again pronounced but Antony Daly’s in bullish humour and with the Walsh Cup already won and Offaly missing injured and club-tied players, Dublin should chalk up the first win.
NFL, Division Two
Louth v Galway, Drogheda, 2.30 – Failing to land both points in this fixture last year ultimately cost Galway promotion. Alan Mulholland’s team started well against Derry and have Michael Meehan back in action but need to deliver consistently. Louth lost a good lead in their opening match against Westmeath and will find redress hard to come by this afternoon.
Armagh v Wexford, Athletic Grounds, 7.0 – Allowing that Laois are likely front runners, defeat by them wasn’t the end for Armagh but they won’t want to drop any more points against a Wexford side who showed good resolution to get back at Longford in their first outing. The visitors’ attack can do some damage here but overall Paul Grimley’s side should get their campaign back on the tracks.
Sigerson Cup final
DIT v UCC, Athlone IT, 3.0 – Big surprise yesterday in the elimination of holders DCU in the first semi-final even though DIT bring a reasonable element of galactico to their challenge. Kudos to Bryan Menton for the marking job on Michael Murphy but the domination at centrefield courtesy of Aidan O’Shea and David Givney was also key.
UCC are again low-key with latent celebrity and, under Billy Morgan’s crafty direction, find themselves in a similar position to two years ago when their traditional self-confidence and collective willpower saw them to the title. Menton will have more work on his hands with Conor Cox in form as will Kevin O’Brien in sorting out Tipp’s Conor Sweeney. Cork to edge it.
Connacht Colleges SF A Semi-final: St Colman’s College, Claremorris v St Gerald’s College, Castlebar, Connacht GAA Centre 3G Pitch, 1pm; Leinster Colleges SH A semi-final: Kilkenny CBS v Good Counsel College, Thomastown, 1pm; Leinster Colleges SF A semi-finals: Coláiste Eoin v St Pat’s, Navan, 2.0; St Mary’s Edenderry v Marist Athlone, 2.0; Ulster Colleges SF A (MacRory Cup) semi-final: St Patrick’s Maghera v St Colman’s, Newry, 2.30pm.
NHL, Division One A
Clare v Waterford, Cusack Park, 2.0 – Deferred, TG4
Night is falling for Waterford with the loss to retirement in recent times of several outstanding talents in attack, culminating in this season’s departure of perennial All Star John Mullane. Making bad worse is that other things are chipping away at what’s left with Stephen Molumphy out of the country and Richie Foley and Maurice Shanahan injured. Clare also have some injury problems but are hopping fit and have already won the Waterford Crystal title.
They have to be favourites.
Galway v Kilkenny, Pearse Stadium, 2.0 – Live on TG4
It’s been unusual to hear Brian Cody talking about “learning processes” in the league but with an injury list the size of a field hospital and difficult opening assignments it’s easy to understand. As Galway size up the opportunity to get one back for the disappointment of last autumn, Anthony Cunningham will be aware of the desirability of reminding the champions that they’re still there. Having had a good outing in the interprovincials last week, Galway have – allowing for half a dozen of their own absentees – fewer problems and can use the opportunity to get off to a good start.
Division One B
Carlow v Wexford, Dr Cullen Park, 2.0 – John Meyler welcomes his own county to Carlow with a positive preseason, including a win over divisional rivals Antrim. Liam Dunne will be warned after Wexford’s defeat by tomorrow opponents three seasons ago and should see his team start positively.
Limerick v Antrim, Gaelic Grounds, 2.0 – Were this the other way around and Limerick had to travel north there would be more pondering to do but weakened as they annually are by club demands, Antrim arrive at the scene of last June’s qualifier horror show realistically hoping for no more than an improvement, which with better form and the Walsh Shield under their arms they can achieve against the promotion candidates.
Division Two A
Kerry v Westmeath, Austin Stack Park, 1.0 – Westmeath are on the promotion trail and should take the first step here.
Derry v Wicklow, Celtic Park, 2.0 – Ravaged by departures, Derry will need home advantage against last year’s Ring Cup finalists.
Kildare v Laois, Newbridge, 2.0 – Laois’ journey back to respectability starts with a crack at the Kehoe Cup winners, which they should win.
Division Two B
Down v Meath, Páirc Esler, 2.0; Mayo v Roscommon, McHale Park, 2.0; Armagh v London, Athletic Grounds, 1.0.
Division Three A
Fermanagh v Tyrone, Brewster Park; Donegal v Monaghan, Letterkenny, 2.0; Fingal v Louth, Swords.
M Donnelly Interprovincial SFC final
Leinster v Ulster, Croke Park, 3.45 – Two thrilling semi-finals last week produced a final between the leading provinces, which promises to be close with two strong teams out and the proceeds going to Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin. Leinster can repeat their success of seven years ago.
All-Ireland club JFC final
Ballinasloe (Galway) v Kenmare Shamrocks (Kerry), Croke Park, 2.0
Kenmare’s long march, taking in the Castleknock semi-final saga which ended in Croke Park, equips Paul O’Connor’s side to get the better of the Galway champions.
Dr Harty Cup Munster Colleges SH final
Our Lady’s Templemore (Tipperary) v Dungarvan Colleges (Waterford), Seán Treacy Park, Tipperary Town, 2.30 – The Dungarvan amalgamation between St Augustine’s and Dungarvan CBS, who won last year as Coláiste na nDéise, bid to bring a fourth Harty title to Waterford in seven years. Well- balanced and with an outstanding half back line, they’re favourites against Templemore, who’ve been pushed all the way in their matches so far.