All-Ireland SFC Round 1A qualifiers: Saturday previews

Last chance saloon for footballers of four counties

London v Cavan (extra-time if necessary) Venue: Ruislip, 2.0 Referee: Paddy Neilan (Roscommon)

Of the eight teams in qualifier action today, Cavan are the only ones entitled to come in with a spring in their step. Their display in the one-point defeat to Monaghan didn’t get the credit it deserved and a repeat of it here will see London off without much fuss. More to the point, they have by far the more benign side of the qualifier draw - they will conceivably be favourites in every match they play this side of the last 12.

Killian Clarke is available again, which will add a level of dynamism on the break that they could have done with against Monaghan. With or without him though, Cavan have too much in hand for a London side that it a pale imitation of the one from two years ago. Terry Hyland's side have to do a professional job here. Get in, get out, get on with a summer that has promise in it yet. Verdict: Cavan

Waterford v Offaly (extra-time if necessary) Venue: Dungarvan, 2.0 Referee: Fergal Kelly (Longford)


Aogán O’Fearghail’s tie of the round apparently, which just goes to prove once again that the GAA presidency comes with a licence to say any old guff and not be challenged on it. It’s four years since either of these sides won a championship game of any sort and the way both of them quailed in their openers this summer hardly bodes well for the turnout at Fraher Field this afternoon.

Offaly should have much the better of it. Though they eventually found a way to lose against Longford first day out, they still have a splash of class in Niall McNamee, Paul McConway and Niall Smith. Pat Flanagan has kept them together in the aftermath of that defeat and the feared exodus to America hasn't come to pass.

Waterford were abject against Tipperary and clearly any small hold the footballers had on public attention in the county under Jackson Kiely has long since gone, especially with the hurlers on the rise again. Verdict: Offaly

Laois v Antrim (extra-time if necessary) Venue: O'Moore Park, 2.30 Referee: Derek O'Mahoney (Tipperary)

A first ever meeting in championship football for this pair, with a clash of styles in prospect. Laois’s ambitions got blown out of the water in the replay against Kildare and it will be interesting to see whether they’ve managed to shake the stink off in the space of a week.

The evidence of their two games in Leinster points to them playing an open enough style again, trying to feed Donie Kingston as close to goal as possible. But they will need plenty of patience against an Antrim side whose only order of business seems to be to spoil, spoil and spoil again.

That wasn't good enough against Fermanagh, however, and it will hardly suffice against Laois. Tomás Ó Flatharta's side got overwhelmed in the space of 10 heedless minutes last week and while it was a worrying collapse, they have a greater depth of experience here. Verdict: Laois

Longford v Carlow (extra-time if necessary) Venue: Pearse Park, 7.0 Referee: David Gough (Meath)

On the face of it, Longford ought to be able to pick themselves up and dust themselves off to keep the show on the road here. The undressing given to them by Dublin was 10 points worse than the one suffered by Carlow against Laois but really, once you’re into double figures, the final total is pretty irrelevant. Both sides watched their oppressors sail off into the distance - Longford’s just kept going further and further beyond the horizon.

Carlow actually won the last time the counties met in 2004 but their chances here must be slim. Longford at least have a win under their belt and have only lost one player to the US in Cian Farrelly. Brian Kavanagh and Mickey Quinn are head and shoulders above anything Carlow have to offer. Their summer is unlikely to end here. Verdict: Longford

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin is a sports writer with The Irish Times