GAA weekend previews: Throw-in times, TV details and predictions

Keith Duggan looks ahead to this weekend’s football and hurling club provincial finals

Saturday

Leinster SFC final - Kilmacud Crokes (Dublin) v Naas (Kildare), Croke Park (5.00pm) RTE

Paul Mannion has dazzled through this winter campaign and the knee injury he picked up against Portarlington is the only cloud on Kilmacud's horizon. The Dublin champions have not won a Leinster championship since 2010 but will be favourites for this against the newbies of Kildare football. What a season for Naas, Kildare champions for the first time in 30 years, led by player manager Eoin Doyle and Eamonn Callaghan, another Lilywhite stalwart.

With 2,800 members, Naas are an emerging force and like Kilmacud Crokes (5,000) look set to be a perpetual force on the landscape. If the Kildare men can limit Mannion and encourage Kilmacud to better the 16 wides they fired last time out, then anything could happen. But Crokes, in a familiar setting, get the vote.

Sunday

Connacht Club SFC final - Knockmore (Mayo) v Padraig Pearses (Roscommon), Ballina (1.30pm) TG4

It's been a wild football season out west. Just as well they are starting this at lunchtime because the chances are these sides could still be going at it after dark. You don't come out of Mayo twice in a row without having substance. While Kevin McLoughlin is the most high profile of the Knockmore men, Ray Dempsey has crafted a very composed and steady club side with whom Aiden Orme has also drawn rave notices. But Padraig Pearses have also won two Roscommon titles in recent years.

A scatter of Dalys runs through their lines, one better than the next and they’ve an accomplished full forward in Hubert Darcy. The tight semi-final win over the Galway champions will fuel their belief. This one could come down to the playing conditions- a slip, a mistake, a referee’s decision. Coin lands with Knockmore.

Munster SHC final - Kilmallock (Limerick) v Ballygunner (Waterford), Parc Ui Chaoimh (3.30pm) TG4

The pick of the weekend’s action, with both teams on a collision course as they eased through Munster. The emergence of Kilmallock from the Limerick championship is another sign of the abundant health within. Tony Considine’s team are improving at a rate of knots, leaking 10 goals in their first three games but they have been watertight since and dispatched the Cork champions with 10 points to spare despite a seven week break.

Ballygunner remained unassailable within Waterford, unbeaten for 43 championship games now and winners of Munster in 2018. They are a very dangerous and experienced side, from Stephen O’Keefe through to Dessie Hutchinson, who bagged 0-5 against Loughmore on a filthy day. Should be a treat. Ballygunner to edge it.

This weekend’s GAA fixtures

Friday

Connacht FBD semi-final
Mayo v Galway, Connacht GAA Air Dome, 6pm

Dr McKenna Cup
Donegal v Down, MacCumhaill Park, 7.30pm
Derry v Monaghan, Owenbeg, 7.45pm

Saturday

O'Byrne Cup
Longford v Louth, Lanesboro, 2pm
Offaly v Dublin, O'Connor Park, 2pm
Wexford v Laois, Hollymount, 2pm
Kildare v Westmeath, Newbridge, 1pm

Connacht FBD semi-final
Sligo v Roscommon, Connacht GAA Air Dome, 6pm

McGrath Cup
Clare v Cork, Miltown-Malbay, 2pm

Munster Hurling Cup quarter-final
Kerry v Tipperary, Austin Stack Park, 2pm

Leinster Club SFC final
Kilmacud Crokes (Dublin) v Naas (Kildare), Croke Park, 5pm

Sunday

McGrath Cup
Limerick v Tipperary, Rathkeale, 2pm

Dr McKenna Cup
Monaghan v Fermanagh, Clones, 1.30pm

Munster Club SHC final
Kilmallock (Limerick) v Ballygunner (Waterford), Pairc Ui Chaoimh, 3.30pm

Connacht Club SFC final
Knockmore (Mayo) v Padraig Pearses (Roscommon), Ballina, 1.30pm

Walsh Cup
Dublin v Antrim, Parnell Park, 2pm
Galway v Offaly, Ballinasloe, 2pm
Laois v Wexford, Rathdowney, 2pm

Keith Duggan

Keith Duggan

Keith Duggan is a sports writer with The Irish Times