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

Seán Moran looks at Saturday’s hurling qualifiers and Sunday’s football deciders

David Clifford’s goalscoring threat gives Kerry an edge over Cork in Sunday’s Munster football final. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

David Clifford’s goalscoring threat gives Kerry an edge over Cork in Sunday’s Munster football final. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

Saturday

All-Ireland hurling qualifiers, round 2
Waterford v Galway, Semple Stadium, 2.0 – Sky Sports Arena

Galway have had to process the complete systems failure against Dublin and deal with a Covid scare, as they prepare for this sudden-death contest. There has to be more in them than they showed in Croke Park.

Waterford’s predicament is even more concerning. The dependable team selection of last year has been wrecked by injury and having to move players around. Iarlaith Daly is the latest to miss out and Shane Bennett is listed at centre back after a multi-purpose year whereas Jamie Barron was needed off the bench last week, as a calamitous third quarter nearly sank them against Laois.

Galway can write off the Leinster defeat as a bad day at the office, including a hen’s teeth of a free-taking meltdown by Joe Canning. Waterford’s woes look more organic.

Verdict: Galway

Clare v Cork, LIT Gaelic Grounds, 4.30 – Live Sky Sports Arena
Contrasting moods, as Clare have momentum with three decent outings to date, including the one defeat by Tipp. Cork had a chance to land one on Limerick but the challenge fizzled out, even though they have plenty of pace and are now comfortable working the ball short and up the pitch, which spells real danger for Clare if any looseness is evident.

An off-day on the frees by Patrick Horgan and other inaccuracies undid Cork against the champions and they will expect improvement. With Damien Cahalane and Eoin Cadogan out of Cork’s defence, Robert Downey may be detailed to mark Aron Shanagher.

Clare have been depending less on Tony Kelly but more because others have stepped up. Their unflappable attitude – despite the wides against Waterford, the adversity in the Tipp match and the evaporated lead last week – means they will be hard to beat if this goes the distance.

Verdict: Clare

Allianz Hurling League
Division 1 relegation playoff
Laois v Westmeath, MW Hire O’Moore Park, 7.30 – Live TG4

Despite this being a scrap over the last Division 1 place, Westmeath last week won the McDonagh Cup, hurling’s Tier 2 championship whereas Laois nearly beat last year’s MacCarthy Cup finalists.

Verdict: Laois

Christy Ring Cup semi-finals (2.0)
Derry v Sligo, Owenbeg
Offaly v Wicklow, Bórd Na Mona O’Connor Park

Nicky Rackard Cup semi-finals
Mayo v Armagh, Carrick-on-Shannon, 1.30
Tyrone v Donegal, Carrickmore, 2.0

Lory Meagher Cup semi-finals (2.0)
Longford v Fermanagh, Glennon Brothers Pearse Park
Cavan v Louth, Kingspan Breffni

Leinster MFC semi-finals (12.0)
Dublin v Kildare, Parnell Park
Meath v Louth, Páirc Tailteann

Sunday

Connacht SFC final
Mayo v Galway, Croke Park, 1.30 – Live RTÉ2

Unless there’s a significant disparity between the counties, this fixture is always tight and prone to slight surprise. Last year’s win put Mayo ahead 47-46 on the roll of honour but even that was a close-run thing and an extra couple of minutes would have probably seen Galway home.

They had the disadvantage of no championship match before the provincial final whereas Mayo played two. This time, the boot’s on the other foot, as Galway had to get through Roscommon in the Hyde, whereas Mayo coasted to two largely unopposed victories against Sligo and Leitrim.

Are Galway better this time? Probably a little – the league travails look to have produced a better balanced team, more cautious at the back without handicapping the attack too much. Are Mayo better? Not without Cillian O’Connor. Pace, the polish of Matthew Tierney and a gradually reviving Damien Comer give Galway a shot at this despite outsider status.

Verdict: Galway

Munster SFC final
Kerry v Cork, Fitzgerald Stadium, 4.0 – Live RTÉ One

Kerry were effectively vaccinated against mishap in this by what befell them last November when they malfunctioned as much in attack as in defence. Conditions could hardly be more different this time with a baking Fitzgerald Stadium the venue as opposed to monsoon season Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

Cork will need everything going well: Ian Maguire competing at centrefield and moving David Moran around, Luke Connolly to shake off indifferent form and the defensive effort collectively – encouragingly, Seán Powter is fit to reprise last year’s feats – to take the heat off the central corridor.

It’s hard to see Kerry not scoring goals given the form of David Clifford and Seán O’Shea and given Peter Keane’s relentless focus on how many scores they’re conceding, that should do the trick. It’s a big weekend for Cork as a county and honourable defeat here will satisfy as progress in the circumstances.

Verdict: Kerry

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