Gaelic games: Weekend county final previews
Séan Moran looks through a busy weekend of action in both football and hurling
Con O’Callaghan will be part of the Cuala side looking to win a fourth straight Dublin SHC title when they take on St Brigids at Parnell Park on Sunday. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Mayo SFC final: Ballaghaderreen v Ballintubber, Elvery’s MacHale Park, 7.0 – An opportunity for Ballintubber to edge out Castlebar as the most successful club of the decade with five titles. They’re favourites to do so with the O’Connors on board and if they and their structured game can keep a tight rein on a young Ballagh side, with Andy Moran providing the guiding light, they’re likely to do so.
Leitrim SHC final: Carrick v Cluainín Iomáint, Páirc Seán MacDiarmada, 2.0
CLUB SFC FINALS
ARMAGH – Ballymacnab v Crossmaglen, Athletic Grounds, 4.0: Not the irresistible force of old, Cross are nonetheless back defending the title against a Ballymacnab side that pushed them very hard in last year’s final before running out of steam. Forewarned, so.
CLARE – Kilmurry-Ibrickane v Miltown-Malbay, Cusack Park, 3.0: Conservatively described as ‘World War III’ by one local, as the neighbouring rivals with nearly 30 titles between them meet for (curiously) the first time in a county final. Miltown have the title and the Cleary twins and co can edge past Kilmurry and their in-form sharp shooter Keelan Sexton.
DERRY – Watty Graham’s, Glen v O’Donovan Rossa, Magherafelt, Celtic Park, 4.0: Glen’s dispatch of the dominant Slaughtneil has opened up the title between a club that has never won it and Magherafelt, who haven’t managed it in over 40 years. Glen were impressive with their movement and cutting edge and can make history.
DONEGAL – Gaoth Dobhair v Naomh Conaill, MacCumhaill Park, 4.0 (Live on TG4): Gaoth Dobhair’s buccaneering run to a rare Ulster title for a Donegal club last year means that they are building on experience and will be looking to do even better this time around. Unlikely to be derailed this weekend.
GALWAY – Corofin v Tuam Stars, Tuam Stadium, 3.30: Old versus new: Corofin, widely admired All-Ireland champions three times this decade take on the aristocrats of Galway football. But the latter are comparatively down on their luck these days and won’t be stretching their lead at the top of the county roll of honour.
KILDARE – Moorefield v Sarsfields, St Conleths Park, 3.30: Kildare’s Old Firm, the Newbridge rivals are in a ninth (including replay) county final in 20 years. In that time they’ve divided 10 titles equally. This year, Moorfield are on for a three-in-a-row and likely to achieve it for the first time.
MONAGHAN – Clontibret v Scotstown, Clones, 3.30: Scotstown are one of the multitude of multiple winners in the country and this weekend line up a fifth successive title. It hasn’t been straightforward though with the champions only spluttering back to form in the semi-final. They have Darren Hughes back in harness after injury and are well fancied against Conor McManus’s Clontibret.
LONDON – Fulham Irish v Tír Chonaill Gaels, McGovern Park, 2.0
LOUTH – Newtown Blues v Naomh Mairtin, Gaelic Grounds, 3.30
SLIGO – Coolera-Strandhill v Tourlestrane, Markievicz Park, 4.15
WATERFORD – Ballinacourty v Rathgormack, Fraher Field, 3.30
ULSTER FIRST ROUND – Cargin (Antrim) v Derrygonnelly (Fermanagh), Corrigan Park, 2.30: Damien Cassidy’s Cargin have the advantage of being well run in after a replayed Antrim final and have enough to progress here.
CLUB SHC FINALS
CARLOW – Mount Leinster Rangers v St Mullins, Netwatch Cullen Park, 3.45: Former All-Ireland finalists Mount Leinster Rangers regained their hold on the county last year and are likely to maintain it against old rivals.
CORK – Glen Rovers v Imokilly, Páirc Uí Rinn, 4.0: Imokilly are on the trail of three-in-a-row and face the club that won back-to-back titles before their sequence began in 2017. The Glen are experienced and set aside some fitful form to pick up momentum against Carrigtwohill in the semi-finals.
Patrick Horgan poses the big threat up front but a parsimonious defence has also played a role. It’s hard though to think they can hold out against the champions’ attack with captain Séamus Harnedy, Brian Lawton and Paudie O’Sullivan – not to mention Declan Dalton, who although surprisingly peripheral for Cork, has been shooting the lights out.
DUBLIN – Cuala v St Brigids, Parnell Park, 4.0 (deferred coverage on TG4): After running out of gas a year ago with back-to-back All-Irelands in the bag, Cuala look to have picked up momentum again. Their fluid patterns and lethal finishing have been overwhelming teams in Dublin so far, with Con O’Callaghan back in the groove after the five-in-a-row and the rest of the team clicking, even if manager Willie Maher declared himself “underwhelmed” after beating Vincent’s by 11 in the semi-final. In Brigid’s favour is their lively attack but although they ran Cuala close two years ago in Dublin, they were blitzed when the sides met in the group stages this season.
OFFALY – Birr v St Rynaghs, O’Connor Park, 3.30: Defences were on top in the county semi-finals with Ben Conneely’s shut-down on Oisín Kelly a big part of Rynagh’s win over Belmont. For Birr, Brian Watkins was excellent in a strong half-back line in the defeat of former champions Kilcormac-Killoughey. Birr are underdogs here but can bite.
LAOIS – Borris-Kilcotton v Rathdowney-Errill, O’Moore Park, 4.0
MEATH (replay) – Kildalkey v Kiltale, Páirc Tailteann, 3.0
WESTMEATH – Clonkill v Castletown-Geoghegan, TEG Cusack Park, 3.30.