Weekend previews


A look ahead to all the weekend's action


Leinster SHC semi-final: Kilkenny v Dublin, Portlaoise, 5.0 – Live on RTÉ 2

The last time Dublin came into a championship match against Kilkenny with this much knowing approval, they were annihilated. Back in 1998, former Kilkenny manager and then-future GAA president Nickey Brennan said at the time that Dublin had put too much faith in the venue – the match was played in Parnell Park.

There hasn’t been too much made of this evening’s GAA Leinster semi-final being played in O’Moore Park. Portlaoise is a small pitch but if that turns the match into a bumper car rink, it’s hard to say that that confers any obvious advantage on Dublin. That the challengers are so highly regarded (outside of the bookmakers) reflects the return of last year’s injured players and Anthony Daly’s proven track record as a championship manager.

Daly knows that he needs a stunning performance if Dublin are to record a first championship win in 70 years against their opponents, who haven’t lost in Leinster since 2004.

Everything went wrong last year. They hadn’t the dynamism – Joey Boland only back from a shoulder injury – to curb Kilkenny going forward and lacked variety in attack with Ryan ODwyer suspended and a concentration on moving the ball into the corners. Now Kilkenny have lost some dynamism with the injuries to Michaels Rice and Fennelly.

Dublin welcome back Tomás Brady, Stephen Hiney and Conal Keaney – it’s an impressive line-out fuelled by all the frustration of the past couple of years.

You’d have to give them a shot at keeping a distinguished Kilkenny attack, with Henry Shefflin taking his first steps back, to a manageable score but there are questions over how much damage they can do to the champions’ rearguard. They’ll need goals – Paul Ryan’s in last year’s Leinster final was Dublin’s first against Kilkenny in 14 championships – but will lightning strike twice?

Previously: This is the third successive year the counties have met and in Brian Cody’s time in charge of Kilkenny the six meetings with Dublin have generated an average winning margin of more than 15 points.

You bet: For all the anticipation Kilkenny are clear favourites at 1-5, Dublin 9-2 and 12-1 the draw that there hasn’t been since 1958.

Just the ticket: Stand tickets (€25) and juveniles €5. Terrace (€15) and juveniles €3 (two per accompanying adult). €10 (stand) and €5 (terrace) refund for OAPs and students.

Crystal gazing: For Dublin to get from last year’s provincial final defeat to beating Kilkenny represents too much of a leap even with the champions’ absentees.

KILKENNY: D Herity; P Murphy, JJ Delaney, J Tyrrell; T Walsh, B Hogan, R Doyle; C Buckley, P Hogan; H Shefflin, TJ Reid, E Larkin; C Fennelly, R Hogan, R Power.

DUBLIN: G Maguire; N Corcoran, P Kelly, T Brady; S Hiney, J Boland, M Carton; J McCaffrey, S Durkin; C Keaney, D Sutcliffe, L Rushe; P Ryan, R O’Dwyer, C McCormack.

Referee: B Kelly (Westmeath).

All-Ireland SHC qualifiers, preliminary round: Limerick v Laois, Gaelic Grounds, 7.30

There was plenty to encourage Limerick in the tussle with Tipperary and they have won both qualifier encounters with Laois, in 2005 and ’09. That should be three by tonight.

LIMERICK: N Quaid; S Walsh, R McCarthy, T Condon; W McNamara, D O’Grady, G O’Mahony; J Ryan, P Browne; S Dowling, B Geary, D Breen; G Mulcahy, N Moran, S Tobin.

LAOIS: E Reilly; C Coonan, D Maher, G Burke; J Walsh, M Whelan, M McEvoy; B Dunne, S Hanlon; S Maher, T Fitzgerald, W Hyland; D Peacock, N Foyle, W Dunphy.

Referee: M Wadding (Waterford).

Wexford v Westmeath, Wexford Park, 7.30

Westmeath have done great work in the past couple of years and although frustrated by not securing promotion from Division Two A, yet again gave Galway plenty of it in the Leinster quarter-final.

For all of the visitors’ feistiness however, Wexford will pull through.

WEXFORD: E Martin; W Devereux, K Rossiter, S Murphy; D Redmond, M O’Hanlon, C Kenny; S Murphy, D Lyng; G Sinnott, E Quigley, PJ Nolan; R Jacob, J Guiney, P Morris.

WESTMEATH: S McGovern; C Jordan, A Price, P Fennell; P Dowdall, A McGrath, P Greville; A Clarke, J Clarke; B Murtagh, F Boyle, R Greville; N O’Brien, J Shaw, E Price.

Referee: C Lyons (Cork).


Munster SHC semi-final: Cork v Tipperary, Páirc Uí Chaoimh, 4.0 – Live on RTÉ 2

The malign chance that saw Donal Óg Cusack injure himself in the league final not alone deprived Cork of their captain but it necessitated a messy succession that has seen Martin Coleman left off the panel after a jumpy league final with his rival for the goalkeeper’s jersey Anthony Nash starting.

Jimmy Barry-Murphy looks to be making it clear from his selection that he sees this championship as the first step in evolving a different approach for the team, staying clear of the gladiatorial approaches that govern current hurling and trying to prioritise a game geared towards ground hurling and moving the ball more quickly, rather than emphasising possession.

The league final demolition by Kilkenny helped to cool the febrile atmosphere in Cork after a promising divisional campaign but there has been a fair bit of attrition in the team selection. Nash is one of six changes from Thurles. There is no specialist full back with Brian Murphy moving to the edge of the square. It’s hard to imagine Tipperary, for all the fast inter-change amongst their forwards, will overlook the possibilities of dropping a few high balls on top of Brian O’Meara and John O’Brien.

If Tipperary’s performance levels aren’t maintained at least at the levels of the closing quarter against Limerick Cork have the enthusiasm and desire to win this. But the champions are on the road a while now and can raise their game to enjoy a rare victory at this venue.

Previously: Tipp are going for a fifth win in six attempts and hoping to emulate the championship victory of four years ago, their first on Leeside since 1923.

You bet: Despite the poor record at the venue Tipperary are 8-11, Cork 11-8 and 10-1 the draw, which last happened 21 years ago at this venue.

Just the ticket: Stand tickets €30 and €25, Terrace €15. Refund (€10) for OAPs and students in stands. Juveniles (16 and under) €5 (with accompanying adult).

Crystal gazing: Tipperary can build on the eventual improvement shown against Limerick and weather the Cork storm. Their more potent attack can see them home.

CORK: A Nash; S O’Neill, B Murphy, C O’Sullivan; T Kenny, E Cadogan, W Egan; D Sweetnam, L McLoughlin; C Lehane, P Cronin, C Naughton; J Coughlan, P O’Sullivan, P Horgan (capt.).

TIPPERARY: B Cummins; C O’Brien, P Curran (capt.), M Cahill; T Stapleton, C O’Mahony, Pádraic Maher; B Maher, S McGrath; G Ryan, Patrick Maher, P Bourke; B O’Meara, J O’Brien, N McGrath.

Referee: B Gavin (Offaly).

Ulster SFC semi-final: Down v Monaghan, Morgan Athletic Grounds, Armagh, 2.0 – Live on RTÉ 2, BBC2 NI

Neither team had a particularly convincing quarter-final with both suffering from injuries to key players and looking vulnerable at times. It’s to Monaghan’s advantage that they can bring back Darren Hughes and Paul Finlay who had to retire injured against Antrim. Tommy Freeman made an important impact off the bench and is still available to fulfil that function tomorrow.

Down were sluggish in Enniskillen and lucky to face a team down to 14 from an early stage. They did enough to advance but neither Dan Gordon nor Benny Coulter are fit for the fray.

At their best they have sufficient movement and football to take this but Monaghan, next season two divisions adrift of their opponents, have a much more formidable record in the provincial championship of late.

Down haven’t won the title since 1994 nor reached the final for nine years, but they should kick on from Enniskillen sufficiently to reach a first final since losing in 2003 to Tyrone.

Previously: Five years ago Monaghan went to Newry and thanks to a brace of goals from Ciarán Hanratty emerged with a three-point victory over the home side.

You bet: Monaghan are 2-1, Down 8-15 and 15-2 the draw.

Just the ticket: Stand/unreserved seating tickets (€25/£20, €15/£12 for OAPs and €5/£4 (free in unreserved seats) for under-16s). Terrace (adults €15/£12, OAP/Student €10/£9 and under-16s free). From county board offices and online. Only terrace tickets available at the ground.

Crystal gazing: Monaghan are stronger than the side that beat Antrim last month but Down threaten more going forward and can make that count.

DOWN: B McVeigh; D McCartan, B McArdle, G McCartan; D O’Hagan, K McKernan, C Garvey; A Rogers, K King; D Hughes, M Poland, A Carr; D O’Hare, C Laverty, C Maginn.

MONAGHAN: M Keogh; D Wylie, V Corey, C Walshe; D Hughes (capt.), D Mone, K O’Connell; O Lennon, D Clerkin; P Dooney, S Gollogly, J Turley; K Hughes, P Finlay, C McManus.

Referee: M Duffy (Sligo).

Connacht SFC semi-final: Mayo v Leitrim, MacHale Park, Castlebar, 3.30

At some point championship football in June has a habit of ruining the form guide. But surely not here. If we follow logic and the facts, then Mayo should obliterate Leitrim tomorrow.

Two salient points: Firstly, Leitrim escaped the opening round tie in London by the skin of their teeth. Trailing by three points at one stage, they only pulled level in the 67th minute to eventually win 0-12 to 1-8.

The second point is Mayo beat Kerry in the league semi-final so will hardly struggle against a team that has just three victories over them in their 22 meetings.

MAYO: D Clarke; K Keane, G Cafferkey, K Higgins; L Keegan, D Vaughan, C Boyle; B Moran, D Geraghty; K McLoughlin, C O’Connor, A Dillon; A Freeman, A Moran, J Doherty.

LEITRIM: C McCrann; D Beck, F McMorrow, P Maguire; C Clarke, E Williams, W McKeon; D Sweeney, S Moran; P Brennan, E Mulligan, P McGowan; R Cox, J Glancy, A Croal.

Referee: M Higgins (Fermanagh).

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