Weekend GAA club previews

Ballyboden favourites to prevail in Dublin in historic year

Michael Darragh Macauley: will be aiming  to help Ballyboden to a first Dublin SFC title since 2015. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Michael Darragh Macauley: will be aiming to help Ballyboden to a first Dublin SFC title since 2015. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

SATURDAY

Ulster club SFC quarter-final

Crossmaglen (Armagh) v Clontibret (Monaghan), Athletic Grounds, 7.0 [Live BBC Sport NI website/BBC Sport App]
Once they rode out long-reigning champions Scotstown’s threatening start, Clontibret were decisive Monaghan winners.

They have an ideal blend of inter-county experience – Dessie Mone, Vinny Corey and the formidable Conor McManus – and young talent, such as Killian Lavelle in a mobile and athletic centrefield.

They also have an almost bespoke management for this task, Crossmaglen legend John McEntee pulling the strings along with former Monaghan player Mick O’Dowd, who has on his CV as Cullyhanna manager a rare as hen’s teeth championship win over Cross three years ago.

The opposition were winning a 21st Armagh title in 24 years with captain Aaron Kernan mopping up his 16th. The generations have turned for the South Armagh powerhouse and familiar names such as Oisín and Rian O’Neill and Callum Cumiskey were to the fore in beating Ballymacnab.

They aren’t quite what they were although their regeneration is extraordinary – six All-Irelands since their first 23 seasons ago and spread equally over the intervening decades. It’s a decent chance for Clontibret despite the odds but you’d have to go with the home side.

Hurling-Shinty International test

Ireland v Scotland, Abbotstown, 2.0 [Live TG4]
Ireland get a first home series in four years, having lost the last three to Scotland. Joint manager Willie Maher will have a busy weekend with Cuala in action on Sunday once he and Conor Phelan have strategised a way around this afternoon’s interesting annual piece of sporting anthropology.

SUNDAY

Club SFC

Connacht quarter-finals

Tourlestrane (Sligo) v Pádraig Pearses (Roscommon), Markievicz Park, 2.0 – Tourlestrane have more experience of this championship but they weren’t really stretched in Sligo and although Pearses are first-time winners, they’re also ambitious and can push on here.

Ballintubber (Mayo) v Glencar-Manorhamilton (Leitrim), MacHale Park, 2.0 – In the long-running Lanigan’s Ball with Castlebar in the Mayo championship, Ballintubber have never made the same impact on Connacht as their rivals and there’s probably not persuasive evidence that this will change but they should have enough in hand here against Glencar-Manorhamilton, who won a dramatic Leitrim final.

Ulster quarter-finals

Castlerahan (Cavan) v Naomh Conaill (Donegal), Kingspan Breffni, 2.30 – Naomh Conaill eventually wore down Ulster champions Gaoth Dobhair in twice replayed Donegal final. The effort expended just half a week previously has to be a drag on the Glenties club whereas Castlerahan have put Cavan titles back to back. In the circumstances they have a good chance.

Kilcoo (Down) v Magherafelt (Derry), Páirc Esler, 2.30 – Novelty Derry champions (for the first time since 1978) square up to their almost perennial counterparts from, Down, who regained their title for a seventh time in eight years. Under the baton of Mickey Moran, they’ll be well briefed and experienced enough to make it happen.

Derrygonnelly (Fermanagh) v Trillick (Tyrone), Brewster Park, 2.30 – Slightly surprising winners against Cargin. Derrygonnelly welcome familiar opposition, as players on either side went to school together. The Fermanagh champions trail a big reputation the in the county with five successive titles but the quality of the Donnelly and Brennan brothers is one of the likely decisive advantages the Tyrone men will have.

Galway final replay

Corofin v Tuam Stars, Tuam Stadium, 2.0 – National interest focused on the drawn final given the implications for others if the thrice in four years All-Ireland champions are beginning to slow down. Corofin were missing some of their regular starters but Tuam took the game to them with lively forward play and were arguably unlucky not to win from a position of two ahead in injury-time. Usually, the favourites don’t look such opportunities in the face if they survive. Shot selection and accuracy needs to improve but they have that in them.

Dublin SFC final

Ballyboden St Enda’s v Thomas Davis, Parnell Park, 4.0, [Live, TG4] – Intriguing contrast between different types of teams, just down the road from each other. Ballyboden won the All-Ireland four seasons ago whereas Davis haven’t won since their three-in-a-row, 1989-91. They are a team without stars, not long back in senior against decorated opponents, featuring a number of county footballers – most notably 2013 FOTY Michael Macauley. Davis’s big ambush of champions Kilmacud was testament to their temperament but Ballyboden are the form team in Dublin this year and with Colm Basquel sharp as a needle up front, they have to be favourites.

Club SHC

Leinster quarter-finals

Clonkill (Westmeath) v Ballyhale Shamrocks (Kilkenny), TEG Cusack Park, 1.30 – The All-Ireland champions weren’t quite full-on in last week’s county final but despite an exhausting schedule, they won’t come unstuck here.

St Mullins (Carlow) v Cuala (Dublin), Netwatch Cullen Park, 2.0 – Cuala were strangely underpowered against St Brigid’s in the county final, allowing for the early loss of Con O’Callaghan – who’s expected to be back. They beat St Mullins easily enough three years ago but it may be harder this time.

Rathdowney-Errill (Laois) v St Rynaghs (Offaly), O’Moore Park, 2.30 – Hit by a few injuries, Rynagh’s might be under pressure here but they have an excellent defence, which will be needed given Mark Kavangh’s dead-ball acumen and Ross King’s county final form, and can upset the odds.

Munster club SHC quarter-final

Sixmilebridge (Clare) v Ballygunner (Waterford), Sixmilebridge, 1.30 – Home advantage will encourage the ’Bridge against Munster champions Ballygunner but venue will only count for so much, as the Waterford club look if anything, improved on last year. Dessie Hutchinson has added to the attack and they look too strong for the Clare champions, managed by David Fitzgerald and Tim Crowe.

Tipperary SHC final

Borris-Ileigh v Kiladangan, Semple Stadium, 2.30, [Deferred, TG4 at 5.40] – Two hungry units – Kiladangan have yet to win the title whereas Borris-Ileigh haven’t done so siunce their All-Ireland season 33 years ago – meet to decide the Dan Breen Cup’s destination.

Borris have freshly-minted All Star Brendan Maher anchoring the defence and in top form as well as notable county figures Dan McCormack and Paddy Stapleton and they stifled Kilruane in the semi-final. Kiladnagan though are unbeaten this season and have already defeated their opponents in the North final. They have Tipp under-20 weapon Billy Seymour in attack and also the momentum this year for historic breakthrough.

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