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

All four provincial championships get underway on the first weekend of action

David Clifford and Kerry open their Munster campaign against Clare in Killarney on Saturday night. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

David Clifford and Kerry open their Munster campaign against Clare in Killarney on Saturday night. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

Saturday
Munster SFC quarter-final

Limerick v Waterford, Gaelic Grounds, 3.0 – Live GAAGo. Referee: Joe McQuillan (Cavan)
Limerick were unquestionably the third-best team in Division Three, running the two eventual promoted sides Derry and Offaly mighty close when they faced them. They also, lest we forget, should have ended the Tipperary fairytale at source in last year’s championship. With Hugh Bourke is lethal form, they will surely have plenty in hand against a struggling Waterford side.
Verdict: Limerick

Connacht SFC quarter-final

Sligo v Mayo, Markievicz Park, 4.30 – Live Sky Sports. Referee: Paul Faloon (Down)
Sligo haven’t played a championship game since this weekend two years ago, when they went down to a right trimming from Offaly in the second round of the 2019 qualifiers. Since then, they’ve played 11 games in Division Four and lost seven of them. Tony McEntee has a thankless task in championship with no back door and they won’t be troubling his old Mayo compadres here.
Verdict: Mayo

Munster SFC quarter-final

Kerry v Clare, Fitzgerald Stadium, 7.0 – Live Sky Sports
The unconscionable decision not to provide a second game in the championship will hit nobody harder than Clare. Comfortably a top-12 team, their summer presumably ends here against a Kerry side that got their warning last November and won’t be in the mood to allow a repeat. A tip of the hat to Clare’s Darren O’Neill, playing his first championship game since May 2011. After a decade away, he deserved better than this.
Verdict: Kerry

Michael Murphy could be in line to play in Doneglal’s Ulster SFC preliminary round game against Down in Newry on Sunday. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
Michael Murphy could be in line to play in Doneglal’s Ulster SFC preliminary round game against Down in Newry on Sunday. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Sunday
Ulster SFC preliminary round

Down v Donegal, Newry, 1.0 – Live RTÉ & BBC. Referee: Maurice Deegan (Laois)
Donegal’s injury crisis looks to have abated in time. Aside from Odhrán Mac Neilis, who limped off against Dublin and misses out here, Declan Bonner has declared the rest of his squad fit and ready. Not only does that bring Michael Murphy into the equation, it means he has no fears for Jamie or Paul Brennan, Peadar Mogan, Eoghan Bán Gallagher or Neil McGee.

On that basis, Donegal have no business struggling for a result here. Though they have tended to throw in the odd stinker over the past few championships, this is surely too early in the piece. Down haven’t beaten them in championship since 2010 and were hammered the last time this fixture was played, even though Donegal had to play with 14 men for pretty much the whole game in 2018 after McGee’s early red card. Johnny Flynn is a big loss in midfield for Down, especially with Caolan McGonagle and Michael Langan showing such strong form. Hard to see beyond the obvious here.
Verdict: Donegal

Leinster SFC first round

Offaly v Louth, Navan, 1.30 – Live GAAGo. Referee: Brendan Cawley (Kildare)
Question, quiz fans – name the last time Mickey Harte and John Maughan stood in opposite dug-outs? You have to go back a full 16 years, to Tyrone v Mayo in Division One of the 2005 league. Different times, different stakes. Offaly are clearly on the up but they have no easy task here against a Louth side for whom Sam Mulroy and Ciarán Byrne showed real leadership through the league. You wouldn’t put it past Harte to pull off a surprise here.
Verdict: Louth

Wicklow v Wexford, Aughrim, 3.0 – Live GAAGo. Referee: Fergal Kelly (Longford)
If this was the Premier League, Davy Burke’s mantelpiece would be heaving with manager of the month awards. Promoted to Division Three in 2020, executioners of Ulster champions Cavan in 2021. You’d need to go back a fair bit to find the last time Wicklow went into a championship game as odds-on favourites but they are well worth the tag here against a Wexford side whose number they have had for a while now.
Verdict: Wicklow

Carlow v Longford, Tullamore, 4.30 – Live GAAGo. Referee: Conor Lane (Cork)
After a pretty abysmal league, Longford made gobshites out of preview-writers by torching Tipperary in the relegation playoff a fortnight ago. Historically, they’ve never had much trouble with Carlow, losing to them only three times in the past 40 years. Dessie Reynolds and Mickey Quinn provide pace and power around the middle third and Robbie Smyth is dangerous inside. Should be enough.
Verdict: Longford

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