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

Pre-season finals and the All-Ireland club hurling semi-finals top the bill

Saturday

McGrath Cup final
Kerry v Cork, Fitzgerald Stadium, 2.0

Feels like teams are throwing more than the usual half-loaves at these competitions this time around. Jack O'Connor surely knew he'd get a bit of heat for Sigersongate but he played Jack Savage and Tony Brosnan anyway. Keith Ricken has named a callow enough Cork side – there's a debut for Chris Óg Jones at corner forward which caps some rise through the ranks, given he was playing junior club football six months ago. Kerry are further along the road and will presumably make a point of showing it.
Referee: Niall Quinn (Clare)
Verdict: Kerry

O'Byrne Cup final
Dublin v Laois, Dr Cullen Park, 3.0 – Live on TG4

Yes, that was the lesser-spotted Ciarán Kilkenny out there in a Dublin shirt last week, playing in his first O'Byrne Cup game since 2014. James McCarthy, Brian Howard and Eoin Murchan have all seen game-time too, which probably says plenty about how intent the Dubs are on knuckling down and getting back at it. Lee Gannon and Ciarán Archer look to be the ones to watch over the coming weeks. Billy Sheehan has used plenty of new faces too and may have unlocked something in Seán Moore, who has been the coming man in Laois for a while now.

Referee: Anthony Nolan (Wicklow)
Verdict: Dublin

Dr McKenna Cup final
Monaghan v Donegal, Omagh, 5.0 – Live on TG4

Monaghan finished the semi-final against Armagh with close to a dozen of their regulars on the pitch. Even Michael Murphy was togged out for Donegal in their win over Derry, in there pitching in mid-January like a young buck with nothing better to be at. Throw in the familiarity these teams have with each other and it would be no shock if a decent game broke out here. Monaghan haven't won this competition since 2003. Might be time.
Referee: Pádraig Hughes (Armagh)
Verdict: Monaghan

Sunday

All-Ireland Club SHC semi-finals
Slaughtneil (Derry) v Ballygunner (Waterford), Parnell Park, 1.30 – Live on TG4

For all that Slaughtneil have shown themselves to be worthy foes in All-Ireland semi-finals, they haven't found a way to win one. They gave Ballyhale a bellyful of it two years ago and had Na Piarsaigh in trouble in 2018. But gravity always wins. Hard to see them finding their way around Ballygunner here either, with the Waterford side clearly on a mission to end the county's wait for a club All-Ireland. Kilmallock looked a serious outfit but Ballygunner rinsed them in the Munster final. A similar fate surely awaits Slaughtneil.
Referee: Seán Stack (Dublin)
Verdict: Ballygunner

Shamrocks Ballyhale (Kilkenny) v St Thomas' (Galway), Semple Stadium, 3.30 – Live on TG4
Ballyhale have had their fright, with the near-death experience against St Rynagh's enough to jolt them into a thoroughly rampant display in the Leinster final against Clough-Ballacolla. St Thomas' would need to be in the full of their health to be a threat here, which makes the Shane Cooney injury picked up in a challenge game against Galway a couple of weeks back a particular shame. Ballyhale have so many guns though, it might not have made a huge difference.
Referee: Rory McGann (Clare)
Verdict: Ballyhale

Other fixtures

Walsh Cup SH (2pm throw-ins)
Saturday

Antrim v Galway, Darver
Wexford v Kilkenny, Wexford Park

Sunday
Offaly v Dublin , Birr

Munster Hurling Cup
Clare v Limerick , Sunday, Cusack Park, 2.0

Read More

Recommended