previews the weekend's GAA fixtures.
Mullinavat have drawn plenty of deserved attention for getting to this stage but they’re up against a team who were senior county champions 10 years ago. That’s not to say the Kilkenny outfit couldn’t pull off another shock but Mattock Rangers should prove too wily for them.
There should be little between these two by the final whistle. Rathgarogue-Cushinstown have the ability to spark something but the Meath club’s run to the final suggests they will seal the deal.
Clann na nGael.
Longford have haunted Jack O’Connor before on a debut but Kildare have been quite active in their preparations and should win.
Life without Steven Poacher begins for Carlow, while Davy Burke aims to revive Wicklow. Carlow can edge it.
Losing the Kingstons for the season is a blow for Micheál Quirke and it may just be that Offaly are more settled right now.
Paul Galvin has been busy since his appointment but patience will be required when facing a Westmeath team coming off a decent 2019 season.
Portlaoise has been a happy hunting ground for Ballyboden in the past - their semi-final win over Clonmel Commercials four years ago springs to mind immediately. The tighter field and the difficult conditions won’t upset them too much although they do have more skilful players than Éire Óg who would prefer a drier ball, sod and less wind. Their physical strength will be needed most here to see off the Carlow town outfit who have shown themselves to be dogged to this point. A day for the old dog, though, and Ballyboden have plenty in their pound.
Ballyboden St Enda’s.
The Mullinahone senior hurlers’ season ended with a narrow loss to Toomevara back in October but their junior footballers have given the club’s following quite the ride since then. It’ll come to an end Sunday simply because the Tralee side are in a different class.
The visitors must have their wits about them if they are to make January’s last four stage.
There has been a trend of recent years of newly promoted teams to Division 1 hitting the ground running. With the start of the league seven weeks away, Meath should be another one of them.
St Mary’s will have taken plenty from their semi-final battle with Carrick Davins and it should harden them for what will be an immense challenge against Russell Rovers. It’s been a spectacular year for Imokilly hurling and it should extend into Sunday and possibly the new year but the Shanagarry men must not get ahead of themselves. St Mary’s are well-coached and if they sense complacency they should be able to seize on it but the vast majority of indicators point to Rovers.
Shane O’Brien takes charge of Westmeath for the first time as Colm Bonnar will field a team without his St Mullin’s men.