Weekend GAA previews

Dublin likely to do enough to make final a learning experience for Galway

Dublin’s Philly McMahon tussles for the ball with Galway’s  Eamonn Brannigan at Salthill. The two are set to face each other again at Croke Park in the Division One final. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Dublin’s Philly McMahon tussles for the ball with Galway’s Eamonn Brannigan at Salthill. The two are set to face each other again at Croke Park in the Division One final. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

 

SATURDAY

Allianz Football League - Division Two
Down v Tipperary, Páirc Esler, Newry, 3.0 – The first of two leftover fixtures from the weather-ravaged league. Down require a win if they are to have a chance of staying up. Verdict: Down

Louth v Meath, Gaelic Grounds, Drogheda, 3.0 – Louth have been unable to pick up a point all season but a draw here and a big Down win could drag Cork into relegation difficulties. A Louth win and Meath could be gone. But seriously. Verdict: Meath

Division Four final
Carlow v Laois
, Croke Park, 3.0 [Live, TG4] When they played a week ago, already promoted Carlow had no skin in the game but still held Laois scoreless from play in the second half. Laois have reportedly dropped their top scorer Gary Walsh for sharing his views on the Northern Ireland legal system with Twitter. It represents a bit of a momentum shift. Verdict: Carlow

Division Three final
Armagh v Fermanagh, Croke Park, 5.0 [Live TG4] – Armagh’s return to the top half of the league has been long expected but Fermanagh delivered a great punchline to a good season with the injury-time win in Longford. The sides played a featureless draw two weeks ago but Armagh’s attack has been slightly more productive and Croke Park is likely to suit them. They’ll need to get a grip at centrefield where Eoin Donnelly has been excellent for Fermanagh. Verdict: Armagh

Allianz HL Division One semi-final
Tipperary v Limerick, Semple Stadium, 7.0 [Live TG4] – An interesting contest, particularly as their championship meeting is just weeks away. Tipp have slightly coasted through the league with Tipperary boss Michael Ryan throwing his eye over more than 30 players en route to the semi-final. He’ll need those options this weekend with a number of front-liners out. Limerick have had an excellent campaign with plenty of young hurlers making the running and a deeply impressive work ethic. They have been particularly lively up front with Aaron Gillane stepping up to senior very sure-footedly and leading a productive attack along with Séamus Flanagan while Cian Lynch conducts from centrefield. The imminence of the championship makes this important. Tipp need to dampen Limerick’s ardour but might not be able to. Verdict: Limerick

All-Ireland PPS A SH final
St Kieran’s, Kilkenny v Presentation College, Athenry, Semple Stadium, 5.0, [Streamed, TG4 YouTube – It is Presentation’s first final in 42 years and a Galway school’s first in 14 years. Kieran’s were assured in holding off Ardscoil Rís from Limerick in the semi-final and look to have sufficient scoring power to bring the Croke Cup home – in many senses of the word. Verdict: St Kieran’s

SUNDAY

Allianz Football League
Division One final
Dublin v Galway, Croke Park, 4.0 [Live TG4] – Galway have the confidence of having drawn with the All-Ireland champions two weeks ago in Salthill. But three of the teams Dublin played in the final when winning the four-in-a-row league titles 2013-16 had taken points off them earlier in the competition and under Jim Gavin Dublin have never gone three matches without a win. This will be a test, though. Galway’s radical genetic engineering has turned them into the meanest defence in the division but one of the less productive attacks. They do have fine forwards in Damien Comer, Shane Walsh and Eamonn Brannigan but the game plan isn’t built around them. Their energy and industriousness have been striking as well as their in-your-face competitiveness. This may well require them to deal with Dublin in a higher gear than a fortnight ago but their opponents have to find that gear, which is a pressure for them. Precedent however suggests that Dublin will do enough to make this a learning – rather than winning – experience for Kevin Walsh’s side. Verdict: Dublin

Division Two final
Cavan v Roscommon
, Croke Park, 2.0 [Live TG4] – The alacrity with which the counties have returned to the top flight has been an interesting aspect of the division and both have merited the progress despite late, late resurgences against closest rivals Tipperary. Kevin McStay has husbanded his resources well and has plenty of bench impact here whereas Mattie McGleenan has incorporated newcomers while getting a good response from the experienced Dara McVeety and Cian Mackey. Their record against Roscommon isn’t good – one win in 13 – and that could well continue. Verdict: Roscommon

Allianz HL Division One semi-final
Wexford v Kilkenny
, Innovate Wexford Park, 2.0 [Streamed, TG4 YouTube and deferred TV coverage at 5.45] – A cracking semi-final between the two counties who have got the most of themselves during the campaign to date. Kilkenny have some big hitters to return but players like Richie Leahy and Martin Keoghan have emerged. Wexford need to stabilise their free-taking and would have beaten Galway even more convincingly had they done that last week. Expect sparks and smoke but a home win from a likely full-strength side. Verdict: Wexford

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