What to watch, where to go, who to bet on – your guide to the weekend’s sport

It’s a busy weekend of FA Cup, Australian Open, boxing, racing and golf action

For starters, what’s going on?

Carl Frampton's WBA featherweight title rematch with Leo Santa Cruz is the main event this weekend. The two-weight world champion is looking to defend his belt at the MGM Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday night.

There's FA Cup football, there's the finals of the Australian Open, the Irish Champion Hurdle, Tiger Woods is in action at the Farmers Insurance Open. There's the African Cup of Nations quarter-finals, in the world of GAA there are a number of pre-season competition finals while there's also junior and intermediate All-Ireland club semi-finals.

And what are the biggest events taking place?


1. Carl Frampton v Leo Santa Cruz (MGM Las Vegas, Sky Sports 1 from 1am on Saturday)

2. Australian Open women’s final (Melbourne, 8am on Saturday)

3. Australian Open men’s final (Melbourne, 8am on Sunday)

4. Louth v Dublin (Drogheda, 2pm on Sunday)

5. Southampton v Arsenal (St Mary’s, 5.30pm on Saturday)

6. Irish Champion Hurdle (Leopardstown, 3.30pm on Sunday)

What are the TV highlights?

There's a good mix of sporting action on the TV to keep you entertained this weekend. Below is the day-by-day highlights, but if you'd prefer to see more of the action available to you, you can do so with our sports television guide.


There’s no Pro12 or European Champions Cup rugby this weekend, so this Friday night isn’t as busy as the previous few have been. Although you can still watch Tiger Woods in action at Torrey Pines in the GC Farmers Insurance Open. The former World number one is looking to make the cut in his first PGA Tour start in almost 18 months, after a disappointing first round four-over 76 (Sky Sports 4, 8pm-midnight).

While the first of the weekend’s 16 FA Cup fixtures sees struggling Premier League champions Leicester City travel to face Derby County (BBC 1 from 7.30pm).


Saturday’s sporting action is underway from early morning as sisters Serena and Venus Williams meet in the women’s title decider at the Australian Open (Eurosport, 8am-10.45am).

And for the early birds, you can also follow Paul Dunne and Graeme McDowell's progress in the European Tour 's Qatar Masters. (Sky Sports 4, 9am-1.30pm).

Then at 12.30pm Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool take on Wolves (BT Sport 2 from noon) in one of four FA Cup games shown live throughout the day. Tottenham versus Wycombe is on eir Sport 1 from 2.50pm while Chelsea and Brentford's clash is over on eir Sport 2 at the same time.

The weekend’s best English fixture however is the all Premier League meeting of in-form Southampton and Arsenal. Kick off is at 5.30pm (BT Sport 2 from 5pm).

And if all that soccer isn’t enough, the African Cup of Nations quarter-final between Sadio Mané’s Senegal and Cameroon is looking pretty tasty (Eurosport 1 from 3.45pm, kick-off at 7pm).

Un De Sceaux is the hot favourite for the rescheduled Spectra Cyber Security Solutions Clarence House Chase at Cheltenham. That’s underway at 1.45pm (3e, 1.15pm-4.30pm).

Sky Sports 4 are showing the Farmers Insurance Open from 6pm, but the weekend’s main event is on Sky Sports 1 on Saturday night. Carl Frampton’s world title rematch against Leo Santa Cruz.Frampton took the title from Santa Cruz last July, after stepping up a weight division from super-bantamweight. Sky Sports 1 will begin broadcasting from 1am and the fight is expected to start at about 3am Irish time.


The tennis gets things underway on Sunday again, with the men’s Australian Open decider. That’s on Eurosport from 8am.

Then there’s the final round of the Doha GC Qatar Masters, and perhaps a first win of 2017 for Dunne or McGinley (Sky Sports 4, 8.30am-1.30pm)

Celtic host Hearts in the SPL at 1pm (Sky Sports from 12.30pm) - with Brendan Rodgers' team looking to continue their unbeaten league campaign against their fourth-placed Edinburgh opponents.

From 1.40pm RTE 2 are live from Leopardstown, with the main racing of the weekend at 3.30pm as Faugheen looks to claim the Irish Championship Hurdle. Before that, Hurricane Fly will be welcomed back for the unveiling of a bronze statue in his honour

FA Cup holders Manchester United host Wigan at 4pm. Jose Mourinho's team looking for a first win in four games, that's live on BBC 1 from 3.35pm.

Then from 6pm till 11.30pm Sky Sports 4 will bring you through the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open.

And what can I actually go to?

It’s a busy weekend of GAA action - 16 games in all, mainly pre-season tournaments but there’s some club All-Ireland (junior and intermediate) hurling and football semi-finals to head off to also.

On Saturday night Derry face Tyrone at Pairc Esler at 7pm in the McKenna Cup final. Mickey Harte’s team are in pursuit of a sixth title in a row.

On Sunday then there’s the Connacht FBD League final between Roscommon and Galway, a repeat of the same fixture last year as well as last year’s Connacht final - Galway winning both of those meetings. That game takes place at 2pm in Kiltoom.

At the same time in Drogheda, Dublin’s squad hopefuls take on Louth in the O’Byrne Cup final. The winners of the last six Leinster championships, the capital county will look to rub salt into the wounds of the rest of the province by securing this pre-season title with a third string selection.

The two All-Ireland club intermediate, and junior football semi-finals take place on Sunday. Lee Keegan’s Westport team play Kenmare at 2.15pm in Ennis; while at the same time St Colmcille’s (Meath) take on Pomeroy (Tyrone) at the Athletic Grounds.

In the junior semi-finals Louisburgh (Mayo) face Glenbeigh-Glencar (Kerry)in Ennis at 12.30pm.

While British champions Dunedin Connollys play the Rock (Tyrone), in the Athletic Grounds, also at 12.30pm.

The All-Ireland club junior hurling semi-finals are also on Sunday morning.

Calry-St Joseph’s (Sligo) take on Mayfield of Cork in Tullamore at 12.30pm.

Before Mooncoin (Kilkenny) and Lamh Dhearg (Antrim) do battle at Trim at 2pm.

While in the Intermediate hurling semi-finals Kilkenny champions Carrickshock face British champions Robert Emmetts at O’Moore Park at 1pm.

Before Ahascragh-Fohenagh of Galway and Lismore of Waterford meet at O'Connor Park (2.15pm).

I feel like having a bet. Any recommendations?

Tyrone are the McKenna Cup experts and it’d be hard to see Derry stop their pursuit of six-in-a-row. In Connacht Galway should be too strong for Roscommon, while Dublin will be expected to get the better of Louth. Although playing in front of their home crowd, they will certainly be made to work for it.

The FA Cup is renowned for it’s upsets, and the most likely of such this weekend is Friday night’s meeting of Leicester City and Derby County.

Leicester are struggling this season, five points outside of the relegation zone. While Derby are on the verge of the playoff places in the Championship and have already knocked out Premier League side West Brom in the third round. An upset here could set the tone for a weekend of giant killings.

Faugheen is the favourite in Sunday’s Irish Champion Hurdle , and with Annie Power ruled out of Cheltenham all eyes will be on her stablemate to step up upon his return. The biggest threat to Faugheen this Sunday looks to be his former stable companion Petit Mouchoir.

Johnny Watterson meanwhile is predicting a Carl Frampton win by a decision on Saturday night.

Eamon Donoghue

Eamon Donoghue

Eamon Donoghue is a former Irish Times journalist