Weekend Gaelic football previews: Throw-in times, TV details and verdicts

A busy weekend of semi-finals and playoffs for both promotion and relegation

Neil McGee could return for Donegal for Saturday evening’s Allianz Football League semi-final against Dublin at Breffni Park. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Neil McGee could return for Donegal for Saturday evening’s Allianz Football League semi-final against Dublin at Breffni Park. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

 

Saturday

Division 1 semi-finals

Kerry v Tyrone, Fitzgerald Stadium, 5.0 – Live, TG4
You’d imagine that neither of these sides is far enough along the road to indulge in the luxury of a phoned-in performance here. Kerry’s defensive issues will get a better stress test here than in any encounter this side of an All-Ireland semi-final. Tyrone are still tinkering around a bit with personnel and formations but they’ll fancy having a good swing at this one. Verdict: Tyrone

Donegal v Dublin, Breffni Park, 7.15 – Live TG4
If this was a championship game, Michael Murphy would almost certainly line out. He’s close to a return – and Declan Bonner expects to have him for Down in a fortnight’s time – but he won’t be risked here. Neil McGee should be back but Jamie Brennan has a bit to go yet. Bonner’s side will need as many guns as they can muster – expect Con O’Callaghan et al to make plenty of hay against their leaky defence. Verdict: Dublin

Division 2 relegation playoffs

Cork v Westmeath, Páirc Uí Chaoimh, 2.0 – Live GAAGo
Disappointing campaign for Cork, which never got over the opening weekend defeat by Kildare. Yet again they lose out to scoring difference and take on Westmeath, who are bedevilled with inconsistency, running Mayo close and then losing to Down. At their best, they would have prospects here but Ronan McCarthy’s team won’t want to go into the summer having been relegated and they have found their scoring boots of late. Verdict: Cork

Down v Laois, Páirc Esler, 6.15 – Live GAAGo
Laois’ form has been surprisingly poor this campaign and it’s no surprise to see them in a battle to stay up. Down pulled out of what had been a similar tailspin for them by registering a decent win over Westmeath. Laois’ inaccuracies have been killing them and it’s hard to see any change. Verdict: Down

Division 3 semi-finals

Derry v Limerick, Carrick-on-Shannon, 4.0 – Live GAAGo
Derry’s reinvention as a free-scoring murder machine was not, it’s fair to say, expected. But only Kerry and Mayo have scored more than them in the league so far, with Shane McGuigan in particularly sparkling form at full forward. They only missed out on promotion last year on a head-to-head basis with Down and should finish the job here. Limerick are going for a second promotion in a row but look to have profited from the truncated format and are probably slightly below Derry’s level. Verdict: Derry

Offaly v Fermanagh, Tullamore, 6.0 – Live GAAGo
Fermanagh have Ultan Kelm to thank for being in this game rather than the relegation playoff. In his first appearance since 2019, he came off the bench to turn the Longford match and set up Seán Quigley for the injury-time equaliser that frogged them over Cavan. Offaly’s passage has been much more serene – three games, three wins, no fuss. John Maughan’s side ought to finish the job here. Verdict: Offaly

Division 3 relegation playoff

Cavan v Wicklow, Navan, 2.0 – Live GAAGo
Mickey Graham can’t be happy to have found his side in this spot, scrapping to stay out of Division Four as Ulster champions. Whatever about possibly getting caught on the hop in their opener against Fermanagh, they were ultimately beaten by a better side in the Derry game. Wicklow won’t be able to match them here but it’s no way to prepare for a defence of their provincial crown. Verdict: Cavan

Sunday

Division 1 relegation playoffs

Armagh v Roscommon, Athletic Grounds, 3.0 – Live GAAGo
Armagh are probably a little unlucky to find themselves in danger of dropping out of Division One at the first attempt after so long away from it. With a little more composure, they’d have seen out the Donegal game. This is a stiff assignment for the coming team in Ulster, against a flinty Roscommon team that got saddled with a brutal schedule. Anthony Cunningham’s side are big underdogs here but shouldn’t be ruled out. Verdict: Roscommon

Monaghan v Galway, Clones, 3.45 – Live TG4
Monaghan could do with a win here – and not just for the obvious reason of avoiding the drop. They have gone the longest of any team in the country without a victory, all the way back to February 23rd, 2020. That said, they’ve had a decent league, bringing some new faces through and getting into winning positions against Tyrone and Donegal without quite seeing them off. They face a Galway side that have regrouped since the Kerry hiding and are cranky at having to go to Clones for the game. Could get spicy. Verdict: Galway

Division 2 semi-finals

Clare v Mayo, Cusack Park, 1.45 – Live TG4
Another fine campaign for Colm Collins, who once again has Clare as the second-ranked league team in Munster after Kerry, who unfortunately they face shortly in championship. It’s also misfortune that lines them up against the best team in the division. A landmark for Cillian O’Connor who makes his 100th appearance for Mayo. Clare rattled them in Ennis in the 2017 qualifiers but James Horan’s side are evolving and on their way back to Division One. Verdict: Mayo

Kildare v Meath, Newbridge, 2.0 – Live GAAGo
This is a finely balanced rivalry. You’d feel that Meath have done more and paid more dues in recent times but looking back to the mood swing in the winter’s Leinster semi-final when Meath shot five second-half goals to bury Kildare, there is also the consideration that Jack O’Connor’s tightened defence – now the second best in the league – might have remedied that shortcoming. Meath have been comfortable even if they lost to Mayo. It’s been pointed out that this may be the most important fixture in both counties’ seasons with Division One on the line. Tight margins and home advantage might swing it. Verdict: Kildare

Division 3 relegation playoff

Longford v Tipperary, Pearse Park, 3.45 – Live GAAGo
Rank carelessness has got Tipperary into this pickle. Having to go to Longford to avoid the drop to Division Four shouldn’t have been on their radar at all. But they had a similar task on the last day of the 2020 league and only managed to scrape a two-point win in Leitrim – and look how that played out. Longford look to have lost their way entirely and shouldn’t present too many difficulties. Verdict: Tipperary

Division 4 semi-final

Waterford v Antrim, Fraher Field, 12.15 – Live GAAGo
Enda McGinley’s Antrim have been very good so far and even with a long trip – the subject of a Covid pantomime last season when Waterford refused to travel north – they should be good for the win and promotion. Verdict: Antrim

Division 4 shield final

Sligo v Wexford, Portlaoise, 3.0 – Live GAAGo Nothing more than a challenge. Leitrim obligingly pulled out to allow the competition go ahead and this will be a warm-up likely to be won by Tony McEntee’s side. Verdict: Sligo

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.