Weekend previews


Compiled by SEAN MORAN


Waterford Crystal Cup (Munster SH) – Preliminary round:

Cork v UCC, The Mardyke, 12.0

THE first staging of the Canon Michael O’Brien Cup is a bit of a county trial with so many Cork players featuring in the college’s ranks. Cork, despite all of the traffic out of their defence in recent weeks, had a big win over Galway and Connacht champions St Thomas’s last week and will expect to win this.

Limerick v MICE, Kilmallock, 11.30: Despite missing half a panel with college commitments, Limerick manage to name 11 of the players who saw action in last July’s All-Ireland quarter-final against eventual champions Kilkenny. It should be enough against Eamonn Cregan’s Mary I, who have made the step up to the Fitzgibbon this year.


O’BYRNE CUP (Leinster SF)

Semi-finals (Extra-time if necessary)

Louth v Dublin, Drogheda, 2.0: Jim Gavin didn’t appear entirely disposed to writing down last week’s defeat by Wicklow to the experimental line-up he fielded but makes nine changes anyway for the trip to Drogheda. Louth manager Aidan O’Rourke picks a slightly stronger team than the visitors with eight of the players that featured in the championship last June against five for Dublin.

Should still be an away win.

Offaly v Kildare, Tullamore, 2.0: Offaly have put in a good shift to date beating local rivals Laois and Westmeath along the way and name 12 of their most recent championship line-up but they’ll be up against it facing a very strong Kildare team.

FBD LEAGUE (Connacht SF)

Third round: (All matches at 2.0)

Sligo v Galway, Enniscrone: A chilly revisiting of one of last summer’s shockers for Galway but Alan Mulholland’s side have been ticking over well with an impressive range of scorers (averaging eight per match) and should have enough in hand here to prevent the home side beating them to the final spot.

NUIG v Sligo IT COE, Ballyhaunis: Whatever about Enniscrone, Galway should definitely win this battle of the counties’ third-level institutions.

Leitrim v GMIT, Ballinamore: Having done the hard work against Roscommon and Mayo, Leitrim should tidy up the pool campaign with a 100 per cent record against the struggling students.

Mayo v Roscommon, Ballyhaunis: Mayo continue the road back after returning last week from the team holiday while Roscommon experiment in the absence of a large college-tied contingent. Home win.

McGRATH CUP (Munster SF)

Semi-finals (Matches at 2.0)

Kerry v Limerick, Fitzgerald Stadium: Big wins over IT Tralee and UCC bring Kerry in Eamon Fitzmaurice’s first campaign rumbling into the last four where they should keep going against Limerick who pulled it out of the fire in extra time against Mick O’Dwyer’s Clare.

Tipperary v Waterford, Seán Treacy Park, Tipperary: Having dethroned the holders Cork, Tipp will be expect to keep going against Niall Carew’s team for which the – ummm – prize is likely to be another competitive meeting with Kerry.



Armagh Athletic Grounds (Extra time if necessary)

Monaghan v Down, 2.0: A good run in the group gets Malachy O’Rourke’s Monaghan tenure off to a good start and this should be an interesting match, as Down have been motoring well even as James McCartan tries to shore up his defence and trial some newcomers.

Tyrone v Fermanagh, 3.45 – Familiar opposition for Peter Canavan, who has brought Fermanagh into the last four as best group runner-up but here it should end given Tyrone’s formidable displays so far.

Waterford Crystal Cup (Munster SH)

Preliminary round

Waterford v UL, Carriganore, 2.0: A win here will send Waterford off into the post-John Mullane era, which this year looks like turning into a version of Groundhog Day. Tomorrow’s winners play Clare, under former Waterford manager David Fitzgerald – the same opponents against whom Waterford begin both their league and championship campaigns this year.

Kerry v IT Tralee, Abbeydorney, 1.0: Under newly-appointed captain Paud Costello, Kerry should make this a positive start to the year and emulate the footballers’ success against the IT.

WALSH CUP (Leinster SH)

First round (Matches at 2.0)

Wexford v DIT, Ferns: Liam Dunne gives some new faces an opportunity to fit in and they should prevail against the Dublin students.

Westmeath v NUIG, Kinnegad – Not terribly fancied for the Fitzgibbon, the Galway students should still progress against the home side, who are under the management of another Galway man in Brian Hanley.

Laois v UCD, Rathdowney – New Laois manager Séamus Plunkett was the last of the managerial appointments and will find it difficult to get everything up and running against one of the Fitzgibbon favourites.

Carlow v Antrim, Dr Cullen Park: First competitive match for Kevin Ryan sees him back in Dr Cullen Park against his former charges, who have former Wexford and Kerry manager John Meyler in charge.

Weakened by the absence of Loughgiel players, Antrim won’t find the trip easy.

KEHOE CUP (Leinster SHC)

First round: (Matches at 2.0)

St Pat’s v Armagh, Ballyboden St Enda’s, Dublin; DCU v Fingal, Lawless Park, Swords; Wicklow v Down, Bray Emmets; Trinity v Derry, Ringsend; Roscommon v GMIT, Athleague; Louth v Queens, Darver.

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