Gaelic football previews: Championship action in the four provinces

It’s difficult to see Derry troubling a Tyrone side who dwell in a different realm these days

Tipperary’s Michael Quinlivan. Tipperary take on Limerick in Semple Stadium on Saturday. Photograph: Inpho

Tipperary’s Michael Quinlivan. Tipperary take on Limerick in Semple Stadium on Saturday. Photograph: Inpho

 

Saturday

Leinster SFC round 1

Wicklow v Kildare
Cullen Park, 7.00
Referee: Noel Mooney (Cavan)

These apparently gimme games in Leinster have given Kildare more hassles in recent times than a side of their pretensions ought to allow. They lost to Carlow last year and only scraped past Wexford in 2016 before falling to a Westmeath team who had just been relegated to Division Four. Wicklow famously beat them under Mick O’Dwyer in 2008. But even allowing for injuries – they’re without Eoin Doyle, Paul Cribbin and Kevin Flynn – Cian O’Neill’s side should have plenty in hand here.

Verdict: Kildare

Kildare’s Paul Cribbin. Photograph: Inpho
Kildare’s Paul Cribbin. Photograph: Inpho

Munster SFC quarter-finals

Tipperary v Limerick
Semple Stadium, 7.00
Referee: James Molloy (Galway)

Limerick’s league went south in a hurry – two wins from two after the opening fortnight, they didn’t register another point after that. Tipp’s wasn’t so hot either, seeing them relegated from Division Two on the last day but they have a Munster final in their sights and with Josh Keane, Robbie Kiely, Bill Maher and Michael Quinlivan back in the mix, they won’t be hanging around here.

Verdict: Tipperary
Clare v Waterford
Cusack Park, 7.00
Referee: Brendan Cawley (Kildare)

Colm Collins has brought Clare a long way since his first championship game as manager, a 2014 draw at home to Waterford. What 2019 holds will be decided on other days but even though they’re missing David Tubridy and Cathal O’Connor here, they can be expected to do an unfussy job.

Verdict: Clare

Sunday

Connacht SFC quarter-final

Roscommon v Leitrim
Dr Hyde Park, 3.30pm
Referee: Sean Hurson (Tyrone)

Of all the forgone conclusions over the weekend, this is possibly the game where the result is least set in stone. League form doesn’t always hold obviously but the fact remains that Leitrim will be a Division Three team next spring and Roscommon will be Division Two. Leitrim are clearly going in the right direction and Terry Hyland has enough confidence in his young team to leave Emlyn Mulligan on the bench. Roscommon will surely still come through it but they’ll need to be vigilant.

Verdict: Roscommon

Leinster SFC round one

Wexford v Louth
Wexford Park, 3.00
Referee: Derek O’Mahony (Tipperary)

Game of the day, whatever way you look at it. Wexford come in as underdogs but they’re at home and they have a dangerous inside forward line in the shape of Ben Brosnan and Jonathan Bealin. Louth have had the upper hand when these teams have met in the league in recent years but they haven’t beaten Wexford in championship since 1980. Wayne Kierans’s side stumbled at just the wrong time in Division Three, losing by a point to Carlow and only drawing with Westmeath in the promotion decider. They can make amends here but it won’t be a huge shock if it goes the way of the home side.

Verdict: Louth

Meath v Offaly
Páirc Tailteann, 3.00
Referee: Martin McNally (Monaghan)

Big things are expected of Meath after their promotion back to Division One. Offaly hung on in Division Three by the quick on their last fingernail so it’s very hard to see them having the wherewithal to make this a game down the stretch.

Verdict: Meath

Meath manager Andy McEntee. Photograph: Inpho
Meath manager Andy McEntee. Photograph: Inpho

Ulster SFC preliminary round

Tyrone v Derry
Healy Park, 4.00
Deferred coverage, BBC2, 7.00

God be with the days when this was a fixture that would rumble the ground and part the clouds. Tyrone’s average winning margin in the championship over the past decade against Derry is 10 points and it’s hard to see that changing to any great extent. Derry have plenty of players – the Slaughtneil contingent are all back in harness – and they were the top scorers in the country in the league. But that was in Division Four and Tyrone are in a different realm altogether.

Referee: Paddy Neilan (Roscommon)
Last meeting: 2017 Ulster First Round, Celtic Park; Tyrone 0-22 Derry 0-11
Just the ticket: Stand €30/£25, Terrace €20/£17; Concessions for students/seniors; Juveniles €5/£5
Odds: Tyrone 1/10 Derry 15/2 Draw 14/1

Verdict: Tyrone

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