Corofin on course for a second All-Ireland final in four years

Wexford go to Thurles attempting to maintain their 100 per cent league record

Liam Silke: will miss the Sigerson Cup final with UCD due to his All-Ireland SFC club commitments with Galway kingpins Corofin.  Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Liam Silke: will miss the Sigerson Cup final with UCD due to his All-Ireland SFC club commitments with Galway kingpins Corofin. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

SATURDAY 

AIB All-Ireland club SFC semi-final

Corofin (Galway) v Moorefield (Kildare), O’Connor Park, Tullamore, 2.0

Two teams with tough credentials from their campaigns to date. The main distinction between them is however significant. Corofin were All-Ireland champions just three years ago and have been quarrying out extra-time victories in Connacht against former All-Ireland winners St Brigid’s and twice finalists Castlebar. Moorefield have executing their own high-wire acts but within the context of Kildare and Leinster and not against teams of the same calibre. Their provincial final deliverance was extraordinary and the mood is unsurprisingly buoyant. They will need, as a minimum requirement of underdogs, to curb the indiscipline that has seen them having to cope with red cards. The Galway champions would cut loose if given that opportunity.

Verdict: Corofin 

Electric Ireland Sigerson Cup final

UCD v NUIG, Santry, 3.30

UCD are presumably relieved that the Sigerson final weekend is no more as Wednesday’s double-extra-time semi-final against UUJ would have been the day before the final. Corofin’s club semi-final deprives NUIG of Kieran Molloy and UCD of Liam Silke but there’ll be plenty of talent on show with the non-stop Damien Comer captaining the Galway college and Dublin’s Con O’Callaghan and Monaghan’s Conor McCarthy in the UCD attack. The centrefield battle is almost a rerun of last year’s Galway-Kerry All-Ireland under-21 semi-final when Peter Cooke dominated the area but Jack Barry plays for UCD with Barry O’Sullivan in what has been Kerry’s league pairing. It promises to be interesting but driven  by last year’s disappointment, the Dublin college can win.

Verdict: UCD

Bank of Ireland McKenna Cup final

Donegal v Tyrone, Athletic Grounds, Armagh, 6.0

One of the deferred finals from pre-season, this brings together two teams struggling in the league. Donegal have been performing well but losing whereas Tyrone haven’t been great but got their first win last week.

Verdict: Tyrone 

Allianz Hurling League Division 1A 

Tipperary v Wexford, Semple Stadium, 7.0 [Live, eir sport 2]

After last year’s hype surrounding Tipp ‘making a statement’ by adding the league title to the 2016 All-Ireland fizzled out in the big defeat by Galway last April, this season has been more nuts and bolts for Michael Ryan, trying out new players and different positions. A seasoned operator, Michael Cahill, is back on board for the season as the table-toppers call. David Fitzgerald said that Wexford would learn from last year’s league semi-final when they caved in to late Tipp goals. So far, on their return to 1A they have the tightest defence in the division. This will tell more, as they try to maintain the 100 per cent record against last year’s All-Ireland semi-finalists, having already beaten Waterford and Cork.

Verdict: Wexford

Michael Cahill: the experienced defender is back on board for the season with Tipperary. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Michael Cahill: the experienced defender is back on board for the season with Tipperary. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Division 1B

Limerick v Dublin, Gaelic Grounds, 7.0 [Live, eir sport 1]

In Dublin’s progress over the past 10 years Limerick have been a bellwether, overtaken in the Dubs’ best seasons but having defeated them in the quarter-finals two years ago. At present Limerick look to have established themselves as a distinctly better side, as Pat Gilroy attempts to piece together his best team. John Kiely has an injury problems with Darragh O’Donovan (definitely out) and Aaron Gillane, who has performed impressively in his first league, extremely doubtful but the home side have the form.

Verdict: Limerick

Laois v Antrim, O’Moore Park, 7.0

Great displays by Antrim so far have unfortunately yielded nothing. In truth Dublin were better two weeks ago in Corrigan Park but Neil McManus’s excellent free-taking kept the home team in touch and almost earned them a draw. Laois have been missing players but getting good displays from their defence and free-taker Ross King.

Verdict: Laois

Division 2A Meath v Westmeath, Trim, 2.0 

SUNDAY

Allianz Hurling League Division 1A

[Matches at 2.0 unless stated]

Clare v Cork, Cusack Park [Live, TG 4]

On a form-line worked through Kilkenny, Clare were more impressive. On their way to a substantial win in Nowlan Park, poor finishing – 14 wides in the second half – beckoned the home side back into the match. Cork won a tit-for-tat thriller against Brian Cody’s team on the opening weekend but found Wexford’s physicality and momentum hard to contain in the second round. When the counties met in last year’s Munster final, Clare’s inaccuracies were also an issue but so too the abandoning of the short Cork puck-outs. Both managements are rotating players but Clare for all of their shortcomings of concentration, have momentum.

Verdict: Clare

Waterford v Kilkenny, Walsh Park

Memories of the cracking championship encounters between the counties in the past couple of championships give way to current league difficulties with the two of them locked at the bottom of the table with no points. Neither have been at full tilt – Kilkenny are missing players whereas Waterford are juggling the availability of theirs and have returned later to training. This has been evident in the way the latter have fallen away in the second half of their first two matches. Kilkenny have been dogged, pushing both Cork and Clare, having trailed by 11 at one point, all the way but losing out in the end to both. Waterford should pick up pace but Kilkenny have been striking an even tempo and can get off the mark here.

Verdict: Kilkenny

Division 1B 

Galway v Offaly, Pearse Stadium

The All-Ireland champions have been huffing and puffing a bit in their matches so far, against the sides hotly tipped to be in the relegation zone, but the first team have been incrementally brought back. Offaly came back to earth with a bump against Limerick and the scores that came easy against Dublin dried up. The performance here can improve but the outcome is unlikely to.

Verdict: Galway

Division 2A: London v Carlow, Ruislip, nb.1.0; Kildare v Kerry, Newbridge.

Division 2B: Wicklow v Donegal, Aughrim, nb1.0; Derry v Mayo, Celtic Park, Derry, 12.30pm; Down v Armagh, Ballycran.

Division 3A: Monaghan v Tyrone, Inniskeen, nb12.30; Roscommon v Longford, Dr Hyde Park, nb12.30; Louth v Warwickshire, Darver, nb1.30.

Division 3B: Lancashire v Cavan, Jordanstown, Belfast, nb 1.0; Fermanagh v Leitrim, Bawnacre Centre, (4G Pitch), Irvinestown.

Allianz Football League Division One

Monaghan v Kerry, Inniskeen

With Inniskeen doubling up as Antarctica last week, the counties return in hope of better weather. The Sigerson final impacts on the teams with UCD’s all-Kerry centrefield in action on Saturday and Monaghan’s Conor McCarthy also involved. Monaghan manager Malachy O’Rourke was able to bring back Conor McManus off the bench while clipping Kildare in Newbridge and with the visitors weakened there remains an opportunity for the home side.

Verdict: Monaghan 

Division Two

Cavan v Meath, Kingspan Breffni Park

Fixture with the distinction of being called off twice last weekend but considerations remain the same. Both teams are unbeaten in the league to date but Meath have looked sharper and are a step up for Cavan, who have to date played just the bottom two.

Verdict: Meath 

Division Three

Derry v Offaly, Celtic Park, 2.30

Losses for both teams since the postponement with Derry losing Ciarán McFaul and Niall Keenan, who have opted off the panel and Offaly the highly rated teenager Cian Johnston, who has a schools’ fixture on Monday. Home advantage to swing this.

Verdict: Derry

Sligo v Fermanagh, Markievicz Park

After their enforced rest week Fermanagh have the chance of going clearly into the promotion frame if they can win here but Sligo bounced back from the Armagh mauling and won’t make it easy.

Verdict: Fermanagh

Connacht FBD Football League final Roscommon v Galway, Dr Hyde Park

Since this was put back in January the counties have made contrasting starts to the league with Galway 100 per cent and joint-top of Division One and Roscommon only 50-50 in Division Two.

Verdict: Galway

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