Weekend GAA previews: Cuala and Na Piarsaigh look set for final

Dublin bid to maintain 100 per cent Allianz League record at Donegal’s expense

Mark Schutte:  Cuala are expected to welcome the Dublin forward back  for the semi-final against Liam Mellowes. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Mark Schutte: Cuala are expected to welcome the Dublin forward back for the semi-final against Liam Mellowes. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

SATURDAY

AIB All-Ireland club SHC semi-finals 

Cuala (Dublin) v Liam Mellows (Galway), Thurles, 4.0

Mellows are a little under-powered by Galway standards, having won a first county in 47 years, and although not a high-profile collective, they will be known inside-out by Cuala coach and former Galway selector Mattie Kenny. The All-Ireland champions are expected to welcome back Mark Schutte but his brother Paul has hamstring issues.

Verdict: Cuala

Na Piarsaigh (Limerick) v Slaughtneil (Derry), Parnell Park, 2.0

For the second year, Slaughtneil reach an All-Ireland semi-final only to face an outsize task. The Limerick champions won the All-Ireland two years ago and should be challenging again next month – as their opponents may well be, in the football final.

Verdict: Na Piarsaigh

Allianz Football League Division One [Matches at 7.0 unless stated]

Dublin v Donegal, Croke Park [Live, eir sport 2]

Dublin have had encouraging displays from up-and-coming players, Brian Howard, whose composure on the ball has been impressive, and Colm Basquel, who in a low scoring match was integral to the 1-3 finale. Donegal are labouring in the absence of so many first-choice players and relying heavily on Patrick McBrearty’s form. They have been competitive, which is fine when a man short in Kerry but not so much when at home to Galway. 

Verdict: Dublin

Division Two

Cavan v Meath, Kingspan Breffni, [Live, eir sport 1]

Two unbeaten sides. Meath look more controlled this year and have responded strongly in the matches to date whereas Cavan have done well to cope with the need to experiment and still get points, albeit against the bottom teams. 

Verdict: Meath

Division Four

Carlow v Leitrim, Netwatch Cullen Park, nb 5.0; Laois v Waterford,  O’Moore Park.

SUNDAY

Allianz Football League Division One [Matches at 2.0 unless stated]

Galway v Mayo,  Pearse Stadium [Live, TG 4]

Given Mayo’s rate of recovery from championship defeats by their neighbours, it’s difficult to imagine that losing, understrength, in the league would be a trauma but how much encouragement should be extended to Galway? Kevin Walsh’s team have won their first two, riveting some good attacking play onto the defensive, double-sweeper platform. Stephen Rochford will need to curb the in-form – with both county and NUIG – Damien Comer.  

Verdict: Mayo

Kildare v Tyrone, Newbridge

Of the two teams with no points, Kildare will probably be feeling that bit queasier. The narrow defeat by Monaghan was an opportunity missed. Tyrone for their part were hampered by a red card in Tuam and dire shooting when the Dubs came to Omagh but, like this weekend’s opponents, they led the All-Ireland champions at half-time. Mickey Harte hasn’t panicked, making just two changes and obviously expects the accuracy to improve.

Verdict: Tyrone

Monaghan v Kerry, Inniskeen

Business as usual for Monaghan with a narrow defeat followed by a narrow victory and Malachy O’Rourke was able to bring back Conor McManus off the bench while clipping Kildare in Newbridge. Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s visitors are 100 per cent after a couple of blood-and-thunder encounters with half a team of youngsters, on whose ranks Sigerson Cup duties on top of county activity are taking a toll. Opportunity for the home side. 

Verdict: Monaghan

Division Two

Clare v Tipperary, Cusack Park

Disappointment for both teams last week – Tipp’s collapse after looking likely winners against Roscommon and Clare’s heavy defeat in Navan. The visitors though have performed at a higher level than Colm Collins’s team to date and with their powerful full-forward line can take the points. 

Verdict: Tipperary

Cork v Louth,  Páirc Uí Rinn

Cork got their season back on track with an authoritative win in Newry. Both of Louth’s defeats to date have featured their getting burned off in the course of the second half whereas Ronan McCarthy’s team look to be hitting their stride.

Verdict: Cork

Roscommon v Down, Dr Hyde Park

Last week’s comeback to recapture a match that looked well lost to Tipperary was a serious statement by Roscommon although the continued patchiness of their displays will be a concern to Kevin McStay. Down haven’t been convincing so far and need to improve.

Verdict: Roscommon

Division Three

Armagh v Longford, Athletic Grounds

Top of the table clash but despite Longford’s impressive win over Derry, Armagh are hotly favoured to get promotion.

Verdict: Armagh

Derry v Offaly, Celtic Park

Teams stuck at the other end of the table play out a critical contest without a point between them to date. Home advantage can prove crucial.

Verdict: Derry

Sligo v Fermanagh, Markievicz Park

Fermanagh have been going well and a win here puts them into the promotion frame.

Verdict: Fermanagh

Wexford v Westmeath, Innovate Wexford Park

The two promoted sides have had contrasting starts but Westmeath’s performances have been better. 

Verdict: Westmeath

Division Four

London v Limerick, Ruislip, nb 1.0; Antrim v Wicklow,  Corrigan Park.

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