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Gaelic Games: Sunday's club previews

Bank Holiday action at both county and provincial level in football and hurling

SUNDAY (2.0 unless stated)

LEINSTER SFC FIRST ROUND
Newtown Blues (Louth) v Rathnew (Wicklow, Gaelic Grounds, Drogheda
Last year the same counties met and Baltinglass lost to Seán O’Mahonys. In the ‘key influencer’ stakes the still buzzing Leighton Glynn may have to give way to the Blues’ Louth centrefielder Andy McDonnell. Verdict: Newtown Blues.

Mullinalaghta (Longford) v Éire Óg (Carlow, Glennon Bros Pearse Park
Because of a replay the Carlow champions have had only a week to steady themselves and that, combined with having to travel and the experience of the Longford champions, who reached the semi-finals last year and gave St Vincent’s a match, inclines one toward a home win. Verdict: Mullinalaghta.

Rhode (Offaly) v Portlaoise (Laois), O’Connor Park, Tullamore, 2.30 It could be Rhode manager Paschal Kellaghan’s last match with the club, as he heads to take up a back-room role with Liam Kearns in Tipperary. The club wasn’t troubled winning Offaly again but their best chances in the province are behind them at this stage. Portlaoise had a free scoring campaign in Laois and look to have the edge. Verdict: Portlaoise.

MUNSTER SFC QUARTER-FINAL
Clonmel Commercials (Tipperary) v Dr Crokes (Kerry), Clonmel Sportsfield
The disproportionate odds (Crokes are 1/6) disguise the fact that this is a meeting between the two most recent Munster champions. Then again, the Killarney club are All-Ireland holders and well-practised at this level. Venue is an advantage for Clonmel and Michael Quinlivan is a threat but the favourites were able to hold back Colm Cooper in the county final and still win without fuss. Verdict: Dr Crokes.

ULSTER SFC QUARTER-FINALS
Cavan Gaels (Cavan) v Lamh Dhearg (Antrim), Kingspan Breffni, 2.30
Cavan Gaels emerge for another crack at Ulster – the seventh in 11 years – whereas Lamh Dhearg have won Antrim for the first time in quarter of a century. The home side also have a tidy strike force in Seán Johnston and Martin Dunne. Verdict: Cavan Gaels.

Scotstown (Monaghan) v Kilcar (Donegal), Clones, 2.30
An impressive range of intercounty talent – Rory Beggan, Kieran and Darren Hughes, Conor McCarthy against the McHughs and Paddy McBrearty – is on show here but Scotstown reached the final two years ago and look to have weightier credentials. Verdict: Scotstown. 

CLARE SFC FINAL
Clondegad v Kilmurry-Ibrickane, Cusack Park, Ennis, 3.0
Champions Kilmurry defend their title against Clondegad for whom Ireland call-up Gary Brennan plays but the holders’ attack with county forward Keelan Sexton to the fore can deliver back-back championships. Verdict: Kilmurry-Ibrickane.

MEATH SFC FINAL
Simonstown Gaels v Summerhill, Páirc Tailteann, 3.0
Champions Simonstown are slightly favoured in this promising final and will have the benefit of AFL export to Hawthorn Conor Nash’s availability in a formidable centrefield with Shane O’Rourke. Summerhill have given some impressive forward-driven displays in getting here but the holders, for whom Neil Kane is also again available, get the nod. Verdict: Simonstown.

WESTMEATH SFC FINAL Tyrrellspass v St Loman’s, TEG Cusack Park, 3.30
John Heslin’s Tyrrellspass have had the upper hand in recent meetings and that trend is likely to continue. Verdict: St Loman’s.

WEXFORD SFC FINAL
Starlights v St Martin’s, Innovate Wexford Park, 3.0)
A week after annexing the hurling championship, St Martin’s are back for the double and unless celebrations got out of hand they can deliver on their favouritism. Verdict: St Martin’s.

MUNSTER SHC QUARTER-FINAL Ballygunner (Waterford) v Thurles Sarsfields (Tipperary), Walsh Park, 2.0 – Deferred coverage on TG4 Two clubs with much in common: both on their fourth county title but neither with a Munster to show for their troubles in that time. Last year Thurles won narrowly and late in Semple Stadium and this time must travel. They had an uncomplicated progress through Tipp where fearful opponents played defensively with the result that Pádraic Maher often got a free role. Twelve months ago that was the tactical set-up between the teams with Maher and Philip Mahony sweeping but Ballygunner’s occasional lack of precision put them under pressure. This year their half backs have been playing well as have Brian and David O’Sullivan in attack. Thurles beefed up the back-room team with former Tipp All-Ireland winning captain Eoin Kelly and highly regarded coach Johnny Enright coming on board. Despite some reservations over the capacity of their attack to slug it out, the Tipp champions can advance. Verdict: Thurles.

KILKENNY SHC FINAL Dicksboro v James Stephens, Nowlan Park, 3.0, Live, TG4 A tight battle in prospect between Dicksboro who beat the champions O’Loughlin Gaels in the semi-finals and James Stephens who eliminated Ballyhale. Dicksboro are on the rise and include Kilkenny senior Cillian Buckley whereas the Village have more of a veteran edge in Jackie Tyrrell and Eoin Larkin. Consensus is that it’s a toss-up with maybe Dicksboro’s gathering momentum the difference. Verdict: Dicksboro.