and preview the weekend's GAA fixtures.
Waterford return to the Ennis Road venue for the first time since the ghost goal controversy of 2018. Limerick are aiming for a seventh consecutive League win while there remain a number of imponderables about Waterford in spite of their sprightly start to this campaign. Whatever team Limerick start is sure to be strong and present a real welcome to senior inter-county hurling for some of Liam Cahill’s young players.
Carlow will have targeted this one as a winnable fixture in their bid to stay up. Dublin, though, will be a better team than they were the last time they headed down the M9 last month. They are still in need of finishers but they don’t lack much in other departments.
Where Christians may have surprised themselves at making it back to the decider with just four members of last year’s starting team, Flannan’s have been eyeing up a sustained Harty run with a core group who were beaten by a point in the penultimate round of the Dean Ryan Cup two seasons ago.
The Ennis College were most impressive when defeating Clare rivals St Joseph’s Secondary School Tulla by ten points in the quarter-final. Their semi-final against Templemore, however, presented a very different challenge, with Flannan’s forced to dig deep to come from behind in the last quarter.
The young men who led the way in pulling them into the final - Diarmuid Cahill, Killian O’Connor, Ashley Brohan, and Cian Galvin - are the very players who have been delivering for them all season. Jarlath Collins, Conner Hegarty, and Tony Butler, all of whom were starters on the 2019 Clare minor team which reached the Munster final, are others central to the Ennis school's hopes.
CBC’s downfall in last year’s final against Midleton CBS was their failure to take a single one of the goal chances they created. Critical to that result being avenged in last month’s semi was CBC’s success in converting two of the three-goal openings they engineered.
They’ll need to be similarly clinical here if this young side, led by the four survivors from the 2019 class - Jack Cahalane, Niall Hartnett, Carthach Daly, and Gearoid Mulcahy - are to deliver Christians a historic first Harty Cup title. For Flannan's, 15 years is an awfully long time to be waiting for a Harty success.
Cork enjoyed a 1-40 to 0-20 win on their last trip to Mullingar - an All-Ireland preliminary quarter-final last July. Cork scored for fun that day and although the conditions won’t be as conducive on Sunday and Kieran Kingston may give his UCC players the day off they should still put plenty between them and the hosts who are already clocking an average margin of defeat of 13 points.
The amount of time Tipperary will have between their League and Championship campaigns could become a lot clearer after Sunday. Lose to Galway and they are looking at 10 weeks before their Munster SHC campaign. They will have benefitted from two close encounters with Limerick and Cork while Galway, with Joe Canning likely to be sidelined, haven’t been in a battle yet.
Win here and Brian Lohan’s side can all but look forward to knock-out hurling next month. Their win in Wexford was an impressive one although they had more familiar names in their team. Laois have looked sluggish so far and Eddie Brennan will be keen to correc that.
Look at how their younger players have performed at Fitzgibbon Cup level and it’s clear that Kilkenny are revitalising themselves. While they still rely on several thirtysomethings, there is a lovely smattering of youth in their ranks. Wexford have become their bogey team in recent times and at this venue they have struggled. The hosts, though, are still missing key figures. A share of the spoils is on the cards.
Both teams know what’s at stake here and unlike Mayo, Wicklow haven’t been flailing as much in these deeper waters.
Offaly simply must win this one to be sure of a promotion final place. Antrim, however, have been eyeing this tie for a long time and enjoyed a good run-out against Tipperary in Belfast last weekend. Offaly’s defensive frailties has to be their biggest worry in a game that will go to the wire.
London have two defeats to their name but have faced stronger opposition than the home side.
Kildare have disposed of the minnows with ease in their opening two matches but face a tougher crew here.