Weekend GAA Previews

Kingdom hold all the aces in Cork showdown


Munster SFC semi-final

Cork v Kerry, Páirc Uí Rinn, 6.0 – Live, Sky Sports Arena

This feels like it's as far apart as the counties have ever been before a championship match. It can be countered that just 18 months ago, Cork ambushed their neighbours but that was no tipping point in the rivalry nor even a straw in the wind. Acting manager John Cleary is a capable operator who was linked to the role on a number of occasions but he's not a miracle worker.

Injuries have ravaged Cork and they are without a number of key players, including Seán Meehan who created a stir last year with his marking job on David Clifford. On a more upbeat note, Ian Maguire may after all be able to play some role in the match and others are on the road back and may be able to take part in a qualifier run.

For this, it's a team that just about hung on to Division Two status – all five points were gained against counties already beaten in the provincial championship – against the team that won Division One and is playing confidently throughout the field, especially in a tightened, more structurally coherent defence. Verdict: Kerry


Eirgrid U20 All-Ireland football semi-final

Sligo v Kildare, Kingspan Breffni, 4.0 – Live TG4

Great achievement by Sligo winning their first Connacht title at the grade (or its under-21 predecessor) and further good news in that Shane Molloy had his provincial final red card rescinded. Kildare were deserved winners against Dublin and also eliminated All-Ireland champions, Offaly. Verdict: Kildare


Munster SHC round three

Limerick v Tipperary, TUS Gaelic Grounds, 2.0 – Live RTÉ2

After two rounds and a bit in Munster, the picture is becoming more and more focused on Limerick after two big wins, achieved in different styles and in varying states of disrepair. The absence of Hurler of the Year Cian Lynch for the rest of the provincial campaign is compensated for by the return of Kyle Hayes and possibly Séamus Flanagan so it won't be a weak selection.

Those problems more conspicuously beset Tipperary, now twice beaten and one defeat away from an all but certain May championship exit. Aside from the long-term absentees, Colm Bonnar lost starting players Jason Forde and James Quigley in the last week, whereas John McGrath is out for the foreseeable future with an Achilles tendon injury.

They were exposed by Clare’s pace, movement and physicality in Thurles and that’s not a portfolio of vulnerabilities to bring to the Ennis Road.

The sporadic promise of their forwards comes up against the top defence in the country whereas their chaotic rearguard is asked to keep tabs on the Panzer division that is Limerick's attack. Verdict: Limerick

Connacht GAA SFC semi-final

Galway v Leitrim, Pearse Stadium, Salthill, 3.30

John O’Mahony points out that Galway are reliving the route to the 1998 All-Ireland: beating Mayo in Castlebar, taking on Leitrim next and if they progress, Roscommon. For all the flakiness in the end of the Mayo match when a hard-earned lead was nearly frittered away, Galway were intermittently impressive.

Damien Comer showed good awareness in a more withdrawn role, such as for the Johnny Heaney goal and Shane Walsh was on song. The defence showed signs of Cian O'Neill's involvement and was well organised. Leitrim have top scorer Keith Beirne back and in his absence Ryan O'Rourke really took up the slack in London. They will aim to be competitive for a while to erase memories of last year's wipe-out in Castlebar. Verdict: Galway

Ulster GAA SFC semi-final

Donegal v Cavan, St Tiernach’s Park, Clones, 4.0 – Live RTÉ2

Having vacated Division Four and handled the challenging away match in Corrigan Park, Cavan face the team they shocked in the 2020 Ulster final, bristling at suggestions that Donegal are intent on proving that a fluke.

Declan Bonner's side were very good in dismissing Armagh in the quarter-final and looked in good shape, particularly veteran Michael Murphy, for this campaign.

Cavan have been competitive against Donegal over the past couple of years, closing a big gap in the 2019 Ulster final. They have in-form forwards, like Gearóid McKiernan and rookie full forward Paddy Lynch and can give a good account of themselves but ultimately the team has been playing at a lower level and to step up convincingly against seasoned, top-flight campaigners like Donegal, is a stretch. Verdict: Donegal

Eirgrid U20 All-Ireland football semi-final

Kerry v Tyrone, MW Hire O’Moore Park, 1.0 – Live TG4

Kerry got the job done against an understrength Cork and are favourites against a Tyrone side that has unusually looked a bit open at the back, to date. Verdict: Kerry