Weekend GAA previews


Ireland v Australian Indigenous All Stars, Kingspan Breffni Park 7pm

The visitors, up until yesterday evening, remained favourites with the bookies, which is more than a tad surprising considering so few of them had even kicked a round ball in anger up to eight days ago.

That’s not to say Ireland’s preparations haven’t gone without a hitch given so many have been pulled from pillar to post with club commitments and what not.

It’s a vibrant panel Paul Earley has chosen and there’s balance in most of the lines. How Ireland deal with the massive presence of Buddy Franklin will be interesting but they have the material to come out on top.

Verdict: Ireland

Clare SHC quarter-final

Crusheen v Ballyea, Cusack Park 4pm

There should be enough seasoned campaigners in the Crusheen ranks to swing this in their favour.

Verdict: Crusheen

Clare SFC second round

Cratloe v Cooraclare, Gurteen 1pm

Verdict: Cratloe

Dublin SFC quarter-finals

St Brigid’s v Ballyboden St Enda’s, Parnell Park 4pm

A surprise win for ’Boden over Kilmacud Crokes in the last round but St Brigid’s have been forewarned.

Verdict: St Brigid’s

St Sylvester’s v St Vincent’s, Parnell Park, 5.45pm

More guile and experience in the St Vincent’s set-up.

Verdict: St Vincent’s


Kerry SFC final

Dr Crokes v Austin Stacks, Fitzgerald Stadium 3pm

If it all came down to freshness then Austin Stacks will be lifting the Bishop Moynihan Cup tomorrow afternoon. But then Crokes are so accustomed to heavy schedules of games now. In the physical stakes, Stacks also have an advantage and then there’s the memories of the 2010 final when they lost by seven points to the same opposition. However, Crokes’ dominance in the county hasn’t looked like wavering yet. Whether Stacks play them man for man or drop back, the Killarney team can accommodate, adapt and harness for their own benefit.

Verdict: Dr Crokes

Limerick SFC final

Monaleen v Dromcollogher-Broadford, Newcastlewest 3.30pm

It’s quite the record Ger Lawlor-managed Monaleen teams have in county finals and one Drom-Broadford would do not to consider coming into tomorrow’s final. They have been the more convincing side up to this stage but then the character of Monaleen has been impressive and they look to have more capacity to improve.

Verdict: Monaleen

Waterford SFC final

Stradbally v Ballinacourty, Fraher Field 3.30pm

Not much has really changed since these two teams met in last year’s semi-final, when Stradbally were deserved winners. They come into this game a little fresher than their counterparts who only won their semi-final last weekend. Michael “Brick” Walsh looks like a man on a mission once again.

Verdict: Stradbally

Cork SHC semi-finals

Sarsfields v Ballymartle, Páirc Uí Chaoimh 2pm

Injury and suspension could play a huge part in this one with Sarsfields minus banned Conor O’Sullivan and possibly Kieran “Fraggy” Murphy and William Kearney.

Ballymartle really impressed in their thrilling win over Douglas, with Darren McCarthy showing how important he is their case.

But even without a few of their top men, Sarsfields have the strength in depth to ensure passage to a second successive final.

Verdict: Sarsfields

Na Piarsaigh v Midleton, Páirc Uí Chaoimh 3.45pm

As simple as saying Midleton have the attack to win this affair but Na Piarsaigh possess the backs to stop them doing it?

Midleton are finally beginning to deliver on the promise they’ve been showing this last while and Conor Lehane is the kind of big-game player who can lead them to their first final since 1994.

Na Piarsaigh, with more of a sprinkling of their older crew, are also threatening a revival but it should be Midleton who look more capable of putting up a big score.

Verdict: Midleton

Clare SHC quarter-finals

Newmarket-on-Fergus v Inagh-Kilnamona, Cusack Park 1pm

Defending champions still have enough about them should proceed to the semi-finals.

Verdict: Newmarket-on-Fergus

Sixmilebridge v Tubber, Clarecastle, 2pm

Sixmilebridge will want to prove the Clonara win wasn’t a flash in the pan.

Verdict: Sixmilebridge

Clonlara v O’Callaghan Mills, Cusack Park, 2.30pm

Not too much skin off Clonlara’s noses last weekend and there won’t be any skin shed here.

Verdict: Clonlara

Laois SFC final

Portlaoise v Arles/Killeen, O’Moore Park 4pm

The dominance Portlaoise are enjoying in the county is slowly but surely reaching Crossmaglen proportions. Arles/Killeen won’t prevent them doing the seven in-a-row.

Verdict: Portlaoise

Meath SFC final

Summerhill v Na Fianna, Páirc Tailteann, Navan 3.30pm

A novel enough final, even if Summerhill won the title two years ago. Na Fianna’s rise through the ranks has been meteoric and how they deal with the big occasion is a major test of even a rapidly developing team as they are. Don’t rule out a draw but Summerhill’s experience may prove the difference.

Verdict: Summerhill

Armagh SFC final

Crossmaglen Rangers v Cullyhana, Athletic Grounds 3pm

Ciaran McKeever sacrificed his position on the Ireland International Rules team for Cullyhanna’s first ever Armagh final. And why wouldn’t he? But it’s likely to see him end up on the end of what has been a ritual Crossmaglen final win.

Verdict: Crossmaglen

Donegal SFC final

Glenswilly v Killybegs, MacCumhaill Park 4pm

There’s no doubt Michael Murphy is needed in Ballybofey tomorrow. Yet even without him you would imagine Glenswilly would have too much in the likes of Ciaran Bonner and Neil Gallagher to beat Killybegs.

Verdict: Glenswilly

Down SFC final

Burren v Kilcoo, Páirc Esler 4pm

It’s frightening just how many scores Burren have been putting up on their way to this decider. Kilcoo, the reigning champions, are no pushovers but they will have to put up the shutters if they are to neutralise Burren.

Verdict: Burren

Tipperary SFC semi-finals

Clonmel Commercials v Loughmore-Castleiney, Leahy Park, 1.30pm

Loughmore are understandably outsiders given their hurling heroics but outside of that would be slightly the more inferior team on paper.

Verdict: Clonmel Commericals

Aherlow v JK Brackens, Leahy Park 3pm

A fine achievement by Aherlow to get to this stage when they are so short on playing numbers. But among those they have available are some classy players.

Verdict: Aherlow

Ulster Club SFC preliminary round

Ballinderry (Derry) v Clonoe (Tyrone), Celtic Park 3.30pm

Clonoe haven’t been given much of a chance by the Tyrone County Board in this encounter given the final only took place last week. Coming up against Ballinderry on any day is difficult but with just seven days to get right for them is a seriously onerous task.

Verdict: Ballinderry

Wexford SHC final

Oulart-the-Ballagh v Ferns, Wexford Park 3.15pm

St Aidan’s of Ferns are the fifth different team to face Oulart-the-Ballagh since they began their run of county titles back in 2009. Scalping Glynn-Barntown in the semi-final was a fine win for Ferns but this is a sizeable step up in class for them.

Verdict: Oulart-the-Ballagh

Carlow SHC final

Mount Leinster Rangers v St Mullins, Dr Cullen Park 3.45pm

Between these two, they’ve won the last four championships but it’s Mount Leinster Rangers who should make it three-in-a-row.

Verdict: Mount Leinster Rangers

Westmeath SHC final

Castletown Geoghegan v St Oliver Plunkett’s, Cusack Park 3.45pm

Castletown Geoghegan should make up for their 2006 and 2011 final disappointments.

Verdict: Castletown Geoghegan

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