Weekend previews

Sat, Dec 1, 2012, 00:00

Compiled by SEAN MORAN


Leinster SHC semi-final Oulart-The Ballagh (Wexford) v Ballyhale Shamrocks (Kilkenny)

Wexford Park , 2pm

On the basis that they’d overcome Kilmacud in awful conditions in the Leinster quarter-finals, Oulart might have been tempted by the rising water table at Wexford Park last week but the decision to postpone was unarguable. There are two problems for the Wexford champions: firstly, their form hasn’t been as good this year as in previous seasons and secondly, Ballyhale will hardly have to cope with such low-key performances from big names as was the case in the Kilkenny final. Given the likely demands on the defence, will Pat Herbert continue Oulart’s recent deployment of Paul Roche at centre forward? Either way, Shamrocks look too well equipped in the front eight.


Munster SFC final

Dr Crokes (Kerry) v Castlehaven (Cork)

Páirc Uí Chaoimh, 2pm

After being firmly put in their place by Crossmaglen last season, it looked as if Crokes might struggle for conviction but they’ve bounced back this year and with the return of Mike Moloney and Shane Doolan from England, the team is looking stronger and more self-confident. Colm Cooper and Eoin Brosnan have always fulfilled leadership roles in the team but even within that context they have been outstanding in the campaign to date. The Kerry champions had to scrap hard to survive the trip to Quilty in the semi-final but would be under severe pressure if they let Castlehaven get at them to the extent Kilmurry-Ibrickane managed. The Cork side play cautiously but have two significant assets up front in Mark Collins’s play making and Brian Hurley’s ability to finish. If they can keep it tight until the end, the chances of an upset will rise. The defence anchored by Damien Cahalane will have a major task on their hands and the more likely outcome has to be that Crokes’ marquee forwards can emulate some of the high scores they’ve been registering so far and justify the burden of favouritism.

Ulster SFC final

Crossmaglen Rangers (Armagh) v Kilcoo (Down)

Athletic Grounds, 3.0

Tomorrow Crossmaglen contest their 10th provincial final since 1996 and have yet to lose a single one. They’re also on the trail of what would be a very significant All-Ireland success, drawing them level with Cork’s Nemo Rangers as the only clubs to have won seven titles and putting them out on their own as the first side to achieve a three-in-a-row. First though is the unexpected challenge of Kilcoo, who were surprise winners of the Down title and who in the semi-final rode out the twin adversities of former All-Ireland winners St Gall’s and being reduced to 14 men (as has become something of a habit with them). Observers of the Ulster championship feel that Cross are if anything getting better having regrouped in the wake of a stuttering county championship and most importantly having benefited from Jamie Clarke’s return from his travels. In addition Stephen Kernan and brother Tony have looked stronger and more dynamic this season. Conor Laverty and Paul Devlin are lively attackers for Kilcoo and will probe for the gaps that can sometimes appear when Cross’s full-back line push forward but it’s impossible to see them accomplishing that and managing to hold back their opponents at the other end.

All-Ireland women’s SFC final

Carnacon (Mayo) v Donaghmoyne (Monaghan)

Ballinamore, 1.30

Champions Carnacon with their retinue of county players and All Stars including the phenomenal Cora Staunton take on serious opponents, in tomorrow’s All-Ireland final, whose sparkling destruction of Shelmaliers in the semi-final suggested a team in form. Captain Caitríona McConnell, who scored 1-9 in Donaghmoyne’s victory when the clubs met in the final six years ago, hit 13 points, nine from play against the Wexford champions. Carnacon may have the sufficient edge going into this.

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