Weekend GAA previews: Last of the provincial finalists to be decided in Leinster, Munster and Ulster

Ballyhale Shamrocks and Kilcoo hope to take another step towards retaining their provincial crowns

AIB club championships


Ulster SFC semi-final

Enniskillen Gaels (Fermanagh) v Kilcoo (Down), Athletic Grounds, 6.0


A young Enniskillen side have showed great composure for a team that had won a first county title in 16 years. They had to scramble to shake off Gowna, pulling back a deficit in extra-time to take the result to penalties and scored all five of theirs. Kilcoo were, however, outstanding in their quarter-final, inflicting death by a thousand cuts on Ballybay. Viewed as a form line with last year, the team that defeated Enniskillen in the 2021 county final ended up being dismembered by Kilcoo and even allowing that Derrygonnelly did themselves scant justice and there may well be a fearlessness about the Fermanagh team, the All-Ireland champions are too practised and experienced to drop the ball here. Verdict: Kilcoo


Munster SFC semi-finals

Kerins O’Rahilly’s (Kerry) v Éire Óg Ennis (Clare), Austin Stack Park, 1.0

There is always a slight problem with Kerry teams that haven’t won the actual county title. Although O’Rahilly’s haven’t been waiting around too long, as can happen with club winners in Kerry, they performed poorly in the county championship. They reached the county final last year and have plenty of experience with David Moran and Tommy Walsh aboard but the Ennis club looked very sharp when dismantling The Nire in the quarter-final. Forwards Gavin Cooney and Mark McInerney scored 3-8 between them, 3-4 from play. Home advantage may be needed. Verdict: Kerins O’Rahilly’s

Clonmel Commercials (Tipperary) v Newcastle West (Limerick), FBD Semple Stadium, 1.0

The star turns of the quarter-finals, Clonmel’s display against Nemo was a startling revelation of what they can achieve with the players at their disposal. The Cork champions looked shell-shocked, the hand-to-hand combat that had dethroned St Finbarr’s in Cork mellowed into a welcoming middle third through which the Tipp champions poured. They also utilised quick ball to deploy Seán O’Connor and Jason Lonergan, whose shooting was bang on target. Newcastle West are still lamenting the 2015 quarter-final defeat when the clubs last met and they blew a four-point lead. They’ll be up for this and Mike McMahon was a predatory man-of-the-match in the county final against Adare but given Commercials’ opting for Thurles rather than their home venue of Atlantis, their quality should shine through. Verdict: Clonmel Commercials

Ulster SFC semi-final

Cargin (Antrim) v Glen (Derry), O’Neill’s Healy Park, 1.30 – Live TG4

Cargin sprang a real surprise on Naomh Conaill in the quarter-final and had the clarity to win a penalty shoot-out, but this is a big step up on the Donegal champions. Glen won one of the most absorbing club matches this season when getting the better of Errigal Ciarán and they won’t take their eye off the road that leads to a likely final with Kilcoo. Verdict: Glen

Leinster club SHC semi-finals

Naas (Kildare) v Ballyhale Shamrocks (Kilkenny), Croke Park, 1.15 – [Live TG4 online]

There’s a fair old buzz around the Kildare dual champions and their blitzkrieg finish against Shinrone was highly impressive. They’ll have no inhibitions about Croke Park, being reigning intermediate champions, but Ballyhale inhabit a different level. Verdict: Ballyhale

St Mullin’s (Carlow) v Kilmacud Crokes (Dublin), Croke Park, 3.15 – Live TG4

The fate of former Dublin and All-Ireland champions Cuala three years ago won’t have escaped Kilmacud. St Mullin’s went on to give a respectable account of themselves in the provincial final against eventual winners Ballyhale. Kilmacud will still be smarting and also forewarned after last year’s defeat by Clogh Ballacolla, which was duly avenged in the quarter-final. They have a promising young side and will be suited by the Croke Park pitch, making a first provincial hurling final very much on the cards. Verdict: Kilmacud

Galway SHC final replay

Loughrea v St Thomas’, Pearse Stadium, 1.0

The lifeforce may be flickering for the champions but they have now conceded just one goal in their last six finals and they showed all their know-how by nearly tipping off Loughrea at the very end and in the economy of Éanna Burke. The challengers were, however, down a man for the last 10 minutes after Darren Shaughnessy’s second yellow; otherwise they had had the edge. Fine margins. Verdict: St Thomas’

Currentaccount.ie All-Ireland club SFC semi-finals

Ballymacarbry (Waterford) v Kilkerrin-Clonberne (Galway), Fraher Field, Dungarvan, 1.30

Ballymac revived memories of the old days when taking a first Munster in 22 years (to go with their 41-in-a-row in Waterford) but whereas it’s encouraging for them to be back in the All-Ireland, they are up against the champions. The experience of Michelle Ryan and the finishing of her sister Sinéad Kenrick are assets but Louise Ward and team-mates don’t look in the mood to give up their title. Verdict: Kilkerrin-Clonberne

Donaghmoyne (Monaghan) v Kilmacud Crokes (Dublin), Donaghmoyne, 1.30

Kilmacud were liberated from Dublin after the long domination of Foxrock-Cabinteely and have looked dangerous in the meantime. This is a new challenge against the five-time All-Ireland champions, even though they haven’t been in the final for six years. Michelle Davoren leads the charge up front and Éabha Ruttledge hit three goals against Tinahely in the Leinster final. Donaghmoyne have so much experience at both club and county level with Cathríona McConnell, who gets married on Saturday, still menacing up front plus rising stars in Amy and Lauren Garland. Verdict: Kilmacud

Seán Moran

Seán Moran

Seán Moran is GAA Correspondent of The Irish Times