Weekend Club Previews
TODAY: Tipperary SHC Thurles Sarsfields v Drom Inch,Thurles, 3.30 – With their galaxy of county talent, Thurles are hot favourites but there is a niggling doubt about the relatively undemanding route they’ve taken to the final.
Drom on the other hand had a major tussle with Loughmore in the semi-final and will be more seasoned in battle. Of the Thurles stars, Michael Cahill has the most pressurised duty – that of keeping tabs on an in-form Séamus Callinan. He can acquit himself sufficiently well for team-mates to take care of the rest of the business.
Dungarvan v De La Salle,Fraher Field, 3.45 – Big discrepancy here between the experienced De La Salle, who must be kicking themselves they didn’t get a crack at last year’s All-Ireland, and opponents who haven’t even reached the final in over 60 years. However, Dungarvan’s record this season is good and they put out champions Ballygunner but a well travelled De La Salle half-back line and John Mullane in attack should have too much for the young pretenders.
Cuala v Kilmacud Crokes,Parnell Park, 3.45 – Crokes beat Lucan in a bruising semi-final and boast well-known names like Niall Corcoran, Ryan O’Dwyer and the O’Carrolls. Cuala have done a lot of heavy lifting to get here, beating serial holders Ballyboden, Craobh Ciarán and Crumlin. Barry Connolly, scion of Castlegar, hit 15 points in the semi-final. Inexperience has shown itself in them losing direction in matches after strong starts but if they have learned on the road and can avoid a physical battle against the stronger Crokes, they can take the title back to Hyde Road for the first time in 18 years.
Rhode v Clara,Tullamore, 3.30 – The old firm in Offaly – seven of the last 10 titles between them – reasserts itself. Although Rhode have been the more dominant (five of seven titles) they have injury problems and having lost last year’s final to Edenderry, Clara may well be able to use their experience to exploit the situation.
Longford Slashers v Pearse Óg,Pearse Park, 3.30 – Current All Star nominee Michael Quinn is one of the leading lights for Pearse Óg as they take on the champions, who are bidding for a three-in-a-row, in the club’s first final in 17 years. Despite the Slashers’ experience, they may get caught by the emerging challengers.
Eire Óg v Palatine,Dr Cullen Park, 3.45 – Éire Óg go for their 10th title since 1992 and the first for four years. Their semi-final destruction of O’Hanrahan’s makes them favourites against Palatine, who beat Rathvilly.
Tuam Stars v Salthill-Knocknacarra,Pearse Stadium, 4.0 – Tuam lost last year’s final but defeated tomorrow’s opponents along the way. Salthill have a remarkable record of having won just two county titles since 1990 and reaching the All-Ireland final on each occasion, winning the trophy seven seasons ago. Both the finalists defeated former champions in the semi-finals, Tuam getting past holders Corofin and Salthill beating Killererin. Tuam’s experience last year and cohesion can prove decisive against the city team.