St Vincent’s and Rhode can edge way to Leinster club final
Weekend club football previews: Dr Crokes should progress from Munster while Corofin can seal Connacht title
Dr Crokes’ Colm Cooper and his team-mates can expect a tough test against The Nire in the Munster Club SFC final. Photograph: Inpho
Connact Club SFC final St Brigid’s (Roscommon) v Corofin (Galway) Carrick-on-Shannon, 2.00 Live, TG4, 1.30
The suspicion that Corofin may have won the real Connacht final by beating Castlebar last time out is surely what has the Galway side such heavy favourites here. But even allowing for a changing of the Connacht guard, it’s hard to fathom a scenario in which Brigid’s are going to be a pushover.
This will be the Roscommon side’s fifth provincial final of the decade – only Dr Crokes in Munster can match that sort of consistency. And Crokes haven’t had All-Ireland contenders of the calibre of Corofin and Castlebar to put up with down south. Frankie Dolan’s team won back their Roscommon title in style this year and have kept Corofin at bay in the past when they’ve met.
What may well tip the scales in favour of the Galway side, however, is the fact that they have a full and fairly stacked deck to pull from. Michael Lundy is back from his travels, All Star hurler Daithí Burke is all action around the middle and 35-year-old Kieran Fitzgerald is still shoring things up at the back. Add in Gary Sice and various Silkes and Corofin are a meaty prospect.
They should have enough for Brigid’s – if not by as much as some folk imagine.
Munster Club SFC final Dr Crokes (Kerry) v The Nire (Waterford) Mallow, 3.30 The Nire were the shock everyone should have seen coming in the Munster semi-final against Carbery Rangers. In a way, it’s understandable that any team coming out of Waterford will cart a name for being an easy touch along with them but the Fourmilewater club are only two years removed from very nearly being Munster club champions.
At this stage in 2014, they had Austin Stacks up on the cross but couldn’t nail them when it mattered. They’re nobody’s turkey shoot.
They’ve been to two Munster finals against Kerry clubs and kept their more illustrious foes to seven and eight scores respectively. Crokes ought to win, certainly, but if they arrive in Mallow with anything other than their sleeves rolled up, The Nire will give them plenty to ponder.
Verdict: Dr Crokes
Ulster club SFC final Slaughtneil (Derry) v Kilcoo (Down) Athletic Grounds, 2.30
It’s a cold fact of life that Kilcoo will be nearly men until they’re not. They’ve farmed the Down county title for the past five seasons on the bounce but haven’t managed to turn any of them into an Ulster title. Lose tomorrow and they will become only the third club after Mayobridge and Enniskillen Gaels to do a five-in-a-row on home soil without a provincial title to show for it.
They’re at least going into this in crabby form, annoyed at hearing talk of Slaughtneil possibly having a fixture headache on St Patrick’s Day with their hurlers already Ulster champions. They even went as far as putting out a press release to register their ire at the suggestion.
And good for them, we say. They’re in a final having put away Scotstown, Glenswilly and Maghery, having been underdogs for the first two games. They’ve dug out a route the hard way, absorbing injuries to the Johnstone brothers along the way.
In Slaughtneil, they have flinty opponents who know their ground. The Derry side haven’t conceded a goal in either the Derry or Ulster championships so far and you have to go back to the first round of the Derry championship against Lavey for the last time they allowed their opponents so much as make it into double figures.
They have the experience and they have the smarts. But Kilcoo can’t let this go on forever. It’s a toss-up but maybe the Down side will stop taking no for an answer here.
Leinster Club SFC semi-finals Sean O’Mahonys (Louth) v Rhode (Offaly) Drogheda, 2.00 Sean O’Mahonys are still plugging on, long after most people expected them to have run out of puff. A first ever Louth title would have been enough to make it a memorable year but Leinster Championship wins over Baltinglass and Sarsfields has them wondering where it might end.
The short answer is here against Rhode but then that was the short answer on both previous occasions against more experienced opponents. Still, you’d have to imagine that Niall McNamee and co can see a fifth Leinster final in 10 years looming and won’t be in the mood to be diverted from it.
Mullinalaghta (Longford) v St Vincent’s (Dublin) Pearse Park, 2.00
Similar story here, where it’s hard to know whether to congratulate Mullinalaghta or commiserate with them. They’ve followed up a first Longford title for 66 years with unexpected wins over Stradbally and St Loman’s but this is surely where the music stops. Vincent’s weren’t extended by Palatine and it’s hard to imagine anything other than a blowout in this one.
Verdict: St Vincent’s