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

Seán Moran looks ahead to this weekend’s hurling and football championship fixtures

Dublin’s Brian Fenton in action during his team’s impressive win over Wexford. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Dublin’s Brian Fenton in action during his team’s impressive win over Wexford. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

 

Saturday

Munster SFC semi-final

Tipperary v Limerick, FBD Semple Stadium, 7.0

These two had contrasting quarter-final wins - with Limerick making championship history going to penalties to beat Clare, whereas Tipp laboured a bit to get past Waterford. David Power was pointing out the Limerick motivation to beat his team after they came so close two years ago.

Since then Tipp have slipped, losing a lot of players, even if they’re currently rallying and Limerick have bounced on to reach Division Two. Looks tight but Limerick’s improvement can be the difference. Verdict: Limerick.

Leinster SHC round 4

Laois v Galway, MW Hire O’Moore Park, 5.0

Laois’ hard season continues with the visit of Galway, buoyant after the last-gasp defeat of Kilkenny. Between injuries and a red card against Wexford, resulting in a heavy defeat, Laois are just holding out for the effective playoff on the last weekend of the round-robin. Overly dependent on PJ Scully’s free taking, they’ll do well to keep this decent. Verdict: Galway

Westmeath v Wexford, TEG Cusack Park, 6.30

Westmeath have been feisty so far even if ultimately outgunned. Unfortunately for them Wexford need a high-scoring performance in case they end up relying on scoring difference but they also need form for the closing weekend trip to Kilkenny. Verdict: Wexford

Dublin v Kilkenny, Parnell Park, 7.0 – Live Sky Sports Arena

This same fixture more than two months ago placed a question mark over Dublin’s apparent improvement when they were as now unbeaten in the campaign up until then. Mattie Kenny’s team top the table but by doing just enough. They haven’t thrashed the weaker teams with the same enthusiasm as others but they secured the critical win against Wexford, their obvious rivals for third place.

Kilkenny’s TJ Reid struggled against Galway. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho
Kilkenny’s TJ Reid struggled against Galway. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Kilkenny’s defence shut them down in March and the championship scoring hasn’t greatly improved since and still has an outsized reliance on Dónal Burke. Kilkenny haven’t been without trouble either and TJ Reid struggled to re-adapt in Galway. They still look too much for Dublin to crack. Verdict: Kilkenny

All-Ireland under-20 football championship final

Kildare v Tyrone, Carrick-on-Shannon, 5.0 – Live TG4

The temptation is to see this as a shoot-out between stars of the semi-finals, Kildare’s Aaron Browne who kicked 0-5 against Sligo, and Ruairí Canavan, who scored 0-8, just three from frees, in a legacy attack with Michael McGleenan. The reality though is that the defences stood out as much, Kildare’s especially. Verdict: Kildare

Sunday

Ulster SFC semi-final

Monaghan v Derry, Athletic Grounds, 4.0 – Live BBC Two

Derry exuberantly revisited the past in the quarter-final with an accomplished display to beat the All-Ireland champions for the first time in 16 years. Tyrone undoubtedly contributed to this by getting two red cards and putting in a wan and ineffectual display but Derry, studded with class players from Chris McKaigue through to Shane McGuigan, played really well.

Monaghan didn’t have to in order to beat Down but they were efficient and calmly managed a mid-match crisis. Their league ended gloriously but overall the campaign was inconsistent. Maybe that was a means to an end but they’ll need the tactical competence that’s a feature of their play at best and with Jack McCarron picking up where he left off in the league, they can edge a close encounter. Verdict: Monaghan

Leinster SFC semi-finals

Kildare v Westmeath, Croke Park, 2.15 – Live, GAAGO

For all the talk that Dublin were back in the groove, there was little focus on how well Kildare had done in handing Mickey Harte’s Louth, a happening team, a walloping. That corroborated the league evidence that they were improving. Westmeath veteran Ger Egan recovered in time for the quarter-final and could claim an assist for John Heslin’s goal in a tidy win over battling Longford but they should find this a bit hot to handle. Verdict: Kildare

Dublin v Meath, Croke Park, 4.30, – Live GAAGO

Last year’s semi-final spread unease in Dublin, as Meath nearly came back from a first-half pounding but the challengers’ spirits may have been damped a bit by their league struggles and Dublin’s punishment beating of Wexford, who had also run them close(ish) a year ago.

Meath improved in the latter stages of the league, as they welcomed back Conor McGill and Bryan Menton. Manager Andy McEntee wasn’t entirely happy with the 10-point win over Wicklow and this requires a major reset, as Dublin rediscovered a bit of bite in their quarter-final. Con O’Callaghan considerably perked up the attack and Brian Fenton had his best outing in a while. It will be a test of where both teams are. Verdict: Dublin

Munster SHC round 3

Waterford v Cork, Walsh Park, 2.0 – Live RTÉ 2

A surprisingly vital match for both teams. Cork are on the edge of extinction but Waterford need to get their 2022 show on the road after an unconvincing win over Tipperary and a defeat in Limerick. Cork’s season has been desperate and they were well beaten by Waterford in the league final only a few weeks ago. Waterford have their own issues in that some of their best players aren’t in the best of form but with Austin Gleeson and Jamie Barron back on board, they’re setting out their first-choice team.

Their power game and movement were too much for Cork in the recent meeting and their opponents haven’t done anything in the interim to suggest they’ll handle it any better. For added incentive, Waterford can actually knock out both Cork and Tipp by winning this. Verdict: Waterford

Clare v Limerick, Cusack Park, Ennis, 4.0 – Live RTÉ 2

Another conundrum for Limerick is whether to stick or twist here. Coincidentally, four years ago they also played their final round-robin fixture in Ennis and sent a dialled-down selection, which duly got hammered but they had already qualified – as is the case now. Clare have been in fine form, winning both of their away fixtures and needing just a further point to make sure of progress.

Limerick had off-field issues during the week but on-field is a bit of a struggle as well and they expended energy last week in beating Tipp with Aaron Gillane again lucky to escape a red card. It’s a local derby so anything could happen but the champions may wish to discourage their neighbours. Verdict: Limerick

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