Gaelic Games: Weekend Previews

Title holders Waterford should have enough firepower to see off Cork

Dublin’s Liam Rushe returns from suspension to face Galway in the NHL at Parnell Park. Photograph: Inpho

Dublin’s Liam Rushe returns from suspension to face Galway in the NHL at Parnell Park. Photograph: Inpho

 

SATURDAY

Sigerson Cup final

UCD v DCU, Jordanstown, 2.30

DCU gathered the kudos with an impressive win against the hosts Jordanstown.

Leading gun to tape, the holders were more clinical than their opponents, who missed more than a dozen opportunities in the first-half.

UCD have a concern about Jack McCaffrey who was withdrawn during the straightforward win over UL in the first semi-final. Once again their attack stole the show with four goals, two from up-and-coming Kildare senior Niall Kelly.

DCU will have learned more from seeing off the hosts and their defence represents a real barrier to UCD, who they beat in last year’s semi-final, but the instinct here is that the favourites’ firepower will see them home.

AHL Division One A

Cork v Waterford, Páirc Uí Rinn, 7.0

Some old failings were on show for both sides last week but in contrasting circumstances. Cork scored well but conceded a bucketful whereas Waterford ran Kilkenny ragged – to the extent that they could afford 18 wides.

Kieran Kingston doesn’t appear to have unearthed a whole heap of options around the county and has the additional bother that Séamus Harnedy, last week’s goal scorer in Salthill and their most effective target man, injured himself and misses out on this evening.

Waterford were fit and fast last week in Walsh Park and although Derek McGrath had two key players involved in Fitzgibbon Cup fixtures – Colin Dunford and Austin Gleeson – they were the only ones and both were sent off so neither had to play the full match. Waterford’s defence was as usual good and so Cork may struggle to run up 1-21 and curiously Kingston hasn’t made many changes to the defence that conceded 1-27.

Cork must getting sick of losing to Waterford but a smidgin more accuracy for the visitors and that’s the likelier outcome.

Dublin v Galway, Parnell Park, 7.0

Another contest between teams with different experiences last week. Galway hit the ground running, full of energy and persistent enough to put some loose shooting behind them and still score 30.

There’ll be no secrets between them given the number of meetings in the past year but, ominously for Dublin, Micheál Donoghue is able to strengthen the visitors with the return of Daithí Burke.

Dublin were worryingly poor in Thurles where they foundered physically against the new realities of Tipperary and never looked likely to threaten the outcome.

Ger Cunningham has a challenge on his hands to use home advantage to stop the rot and steady things for the rest of the season. Liam Rushe is available after suspension but Dublin will have their work cut out to keep this respectable.

Dr Harty Cup final

Árd Scoil Rís v Our Lady’s Templemore, MacDonagh Park Nenagh, 2.0

Templemore haven’t won the Harty since 1978 but come into Saturday afternoon’s final with some confidence given their high-scoring progress to the final. Both schools emerged from tightly contested semi-finals with the Tipp school’s match against De La Salle going to extra-time.

Árd Scoil Rís are slight favourites with a physical side and a burgeoning modern tradition that would see success bringing a fourth Harty in seven years.

If Templemore can adjust their sights though a surprise could be on the cards.

AHL Division Three A

Warwickshire v Louth, Páirc na hÉireann, 3.0

SUNDAY
(Matches at 2.0 unless stated)

ALLIANZ HURLING LEAGUE
Division One A

Kilkenny v Tipperary, Nowlan Park

Kilkenny were clearly ring rusty last weekend but will have picked up a bit of rhythm after being exposed to Waterford’s high-tempo game.

The All-Ireland champions have home advantage, which is evidently worth something in this fixture given the run of victories Kilkenny have managed across the various engagements from regulation league to final to championship.

Tipperary were quite impressive for a team that stayed away from the pre-season tournament circuit. Michael Ryan’s instinct to enhance the physicality of the team looked like it could pay dividends and especially at this time of the year. Under new management they will be very anxious to lay down a long overdue marker here.

Ryan knows that he’ll be judged on more exacting terms than a league match in February but in the meantime a win against the All-Ireland champions would be valuable and they look to have enough under their belt to achieve that.

Division One B

Kerry v Limerick, Fitzgerald Stadium

Ciarán Carey had a brilliant debut as manager in the league but his own county opened up with intent and effect against Wexford and TJ Ryan’s team won’t be expected to slip up here.

Offaly v Laois, O’Connor Park

The defeat by Kerry has turned Laois’s season into a slog. This midlands derby against the neighbours they beat for the first time in 42 championships last summer takes on new importance in the light of last week’s dropped points. Offaly stayed with Clare until the second half but they will fancy themselves for this.

Wexford v Clare, Innovate Wexford Park

Hard to imagine that less than 18 months ago when the counties met in the 2014 qualifier replay it looked as if Wexford were a rising force.

Since then momentum has dried up whereas Clare have acquired a little even if there a few injury concerns this weekend.

Wexford could have done without the Jack Guiney controversy flaring up and after last week’s shellacking in Limerick this looks like a very daunting challenge.

Division Two A

Carlow v London, Netwatch Cullen Park, 1.0; Antrim v Kildare, Ballycastle; Westmeath v Derry, Cusack Park.

Division Two B

Donegal v Armagh, Letterkenny; Down v Wicklow, Páirc Esler; Meath v Mayo, Trim.

Division Three A

Roscommon v Monaghan, Athleague, Tyrone v Fingal, Healy Park.

National Camogie League

Division One

Offaly v Dublin; Wexford v Clare; Tipperary v Galway, The Ragg; Kilkenny v Derry, Conahy Shamrocks; Limerick v Cork, Mick Neville Park.

Division Two

Westmeath v Meath; Antrim v Cork; Down v Kilkenny; Carlow v Laois, Fenagh, 2.0; Wexford v Kildare, Coolgreany, 2.0.

Women’s National Football League

Division One

Monaghan v Armagh, Pearse Óg, Tyrone v Galway, Garvaghey.

Division Three

Fermanagh v Waterford, Irvinestown.

Division Four

Limerick v Carlow, Staker Wallace GAA, Kilmallock.

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