Times, TV details, and predictions: All you need to know ahead of a weekend of GAA clashes

The first of the provincial football finals top the weekend GAA bill while there it's also do-or-die in the hurling qualifieres
Times, TV details, and predictions: All you need to know ahead of a weekend of GAA clashes

Tempers flare between Cork's Mark Keane and Kerry's Jason Foley in last year's Munster SFC. The teams meet again in Sunday's provincial decider. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo


All-Ireland SHC qualifiers, Round 2.

Waterford v Galway, Semple Stadium 2pm (S. Stack, Dublin) Live Sky Sports

Be careful not to read too much into how difficult Waterford had it against Laois. The O’Moore County men have been targeting this part of the season from a long way off, were in bonus territory and on a high after securing their Liam MacCarthy Cup status for next season. It’s out of the way and will do Waterford no harm to be tested even if Galway should come out bulling from the off that they find themselves in this situation. They’ve had a lot of time to mull over losing to Dublin although the recent Covid case may force them to rearrange things.

Iarlaith Daly’s injury worry does complicate matters for Waterford in defence but if Jamie Barron is able to play more of this game than his cameo last week there may be an option to drop Austin Gleeson back. Work as hard as they did in games last year or as Dublin did in the Leinster semi-final and the Déise can continue their fine historical record against Galway. But the greatest response to a recent disappointment is likely to come from Shane O’Neill’s side who have had the arrogance knocked right out of him. A roll-up sleeves effort required but they can produce it.

Verdict: Galway.

Clare v Cork, LIT Gaelic Grounds 4.30pm (J. Keenan, Wicklow) Live Sky Sports.

This might not be the venue that either team would have preferred but a chance for Clare to get back to where they were in the ascendancy against Tipperary before Aidan McCarthy’s sin binning may provide them with some extra motivation. Cork will have positive feelings about the Ennis Road venue after beating Limerick there two years ago but Thurles would likely have been the choice for both counties. Three games in the bank now to Cork’s one, Clare have a couple of extra reasons to be sharper and that may manifest itself at the start as it did against Wexford. For the second game in a row, Clare have put in a performance without relying on Tony Kelly but if the 2013 hurler of the year gets going here the Banner will fancy themselves in a shoot-out.

On that count, Cork will be confident of pulling through every time but their forwards must be waspish in denying the diagonal balls being put into Aron Shanagher. Mark Coleman will look to be more prominent and on the basis of skill and dynamism he would be the superior centre-back but John Conlon has shown himself to be more influential. Patrick Horgan is also due a big “from play” day but Conor Cleary is a sticky customer and Rory Hayes has been excellent so Horgan’s fellow inside forward will have his work cut out. Still, Cork will be presented with goal chances and avoiding too many “handy points” as Shane Kingston recently said and they are quarter-finals bound.

Verdict: Cork.

Christy Ring Cup semi-finals.

Derry v Sligo, Owenbeg 2pm (K. Brady, Louth).

Sligo can look back on this season with a lot of positivity and hope but this may be one challenge too many for them.

Verdict: Derry.

Offaly v Wicklow, Bord na Mona O’Connor Park 2pm (N. Wall, Cork).

A good week for Offaly GAA should get better with victory here for Michael Fennelly’s side. They have been extremely business-like thus far and should progress with a bit to spare.

Verdict: Offaly.

Nicky Rackard Cup semi-finals.

Mayo v Armagh, Avant Money Páirc Seán MacDiarmada 1.30pm (K. Jordan, Tipperary).

A heavy win for Armagh against Leitrim last day out but Mayo topped their group with good reason.

Verdict: Mayo.

Tyrone v Donegal, Páirc Colmcille, Carrickmore 2pm (C. McDonald, Antrim).

These two know each other so well and while Donegal’s early season form augured well it has dipped slightly.

Verdict: Tyrone.

Lory Meagher Cup semi-finals.

Longford v Fermanagh, Glennon Brothers Pearse Park 2pm (B. Keon, Galway).

These two shared the spoils earlier this month but Longford can seal a final spot.

Verdict: Longford.

Cavan v Louth, Kingspan Breffni 2.15pm (K. Parke, Antrim).

Louth should be more battle-hardened than Cavan.

Verdict: Louth.

Allianz Hurling Division 1 relegation play-off.

Laois v Westmeath, MW Hire O’Moore Park 7.30pm (P, Murphy, Carlow). Live TG4.

So what counts for more — Laois coming off an impressive if unsuccessful performance against Waterford or Westmeath seeing off a weakened Kerry side to claim the Joe McDonagh Cup? Both teams will play in the Leinster SHC next year so it’s a question of will they have the league campaign to prepare themselves for it. Laois look a different team to the one that started the championship, never mind the league and will be better off than Westmeath for the higher standard of teams they’ve played in recent weeks.

Verdict: Laois.

TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Senior Football Championship. Group 1, Round 3.

Cavan v Monaghan, Kingspan Breffni, 6pm.

Senior status survival on the cards here. The losers won’t be doomed just yet, but they’ll have to successfully navigate the relegation play-offs to stay in the Senior Championship.

Cavan won when the sides met in the Lidl National League – and the Breffni girls will hope that’s a good omen as they prepare for the visit of Monaghan.

Verdict: Cavan.

Armagh v Mayo, Sean O’Heslins Ballinamore, Leitrim 2pm.

Both counties are safely through to the quarter-finals but there’s still some business to attend to as the winners will top the table. It was Armagh who ran out winners in the 2020 championship to book a semi-final place and they can prevail again.

Verdict: Armagh.

Group 3, Round 3

Tyrone v Waterford, St. Lomans, Mullingar 3.30pm.

For the winners, it’s Cork in the last eight and while that might be a dubious prize, progression from the group stages, and possibly beyond, would be viewed as a positive outcome from the 2021 Championship. In terms of results, it was Tyrone who gave Dublin the better game in the group stages, with the Red Hands suffering a 10-point reversal compared to the 17-point loss Waterford suffered.

Verdict: Tyrone.

Group 4, Round 3.

Kerry v Donegal, Tuam Stadium 5pm Live TG4.

With Galway assured of top spot, the winners here will also progress to the quarter-finals. Will it be Kerry, who lost by just a point to Galway, or Donegal, who conceded three goals in the space of two minutes against the Westerners, and lost out by five points? Bar that disastrous period for Donegal, they were competitive against Galway and will feel they’re good enough to get the better of Kerry.

Verdict: Donegal.

All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship. Group 1.

Wexford v Offaly, Chadwicks Wexford Park 2.30pm (R. Kelly).

Some difficult times for Wexford camogie in recent years but the win over Limerick has set them up nicely.

Verdict: Wexford.

Group 2.

Down v Cork, Páirc Esler 3pm (G. Donegan).

A good showing for Down despite going down narrowly to Waterford but the step up in class here will be far too much for them to handle.

Verdict: Cork.

Dublin v Waterford, Parnell Park 5pm (J. Dermody).

Much depends on how much the heavy loss to Cork took out on Dublin on opening weekend.

Verdict: Draw

Group 3.Galway v Clare, Kenny Park, Athenry 4pm (L. Dempsey).

Six points poorer than Kilkenny, Galway may inflict a larger defeat on Clare as they ready themselves for the Cats.

Verdict: Galway.

Westmeath v Kilkenny, TEG Cusack Park 2pm (K. O’Brien).

The Lake County took quite the hammering from Galway and they will do well not to avoid a similar hiding here.

Verdict: Kilkenny.


Connacht SFC final.

Galway v Mayo, Croke Park 1.30pm (C. Lane, Cork). Live RTÉ.

Aside from the Connacht Council/gate receipts aspect of this game moving from Castlebar to Croke Park, we could guess Mayo were only too happy to agree to moving this game to a venue where they have been more comfortable than Elverys MacHale Park. Indeed, had it been staged there we would give Galway even more of a chance.

On the other hand, James Horan’s 100% record against Galway in Championship is a fact that counters Mayo’s awkwardness at home against strong opposition. With Diarmuid O’Connor back, the Mayo attack doesn’t appear as fledgling as it was against Sligo and Leitrim when that inexperience wasn’t going to be interrogated. Here, it should be especially as the Corofin triumvirate of Liam Silke, Kieran Molloy and Dylan Wall form half of the Galway defence.

Factor in Damien Comer’s presence and Shane Walsh shouldn’t have to do too much of the heavy lifting and work off Comer’s furrowing to kick scores. There must be such an urge in Galway after last year’s losses to Mayo, two wholly contrasting ones, but counting up cool heads the defending Connacht champions have more.

Verdict: Mayo

Kerry v Cork, Fitzgerald Stadium 4pm (B. Cassidy, Cork) Live RTÉ.

Question: Outline the reasons for a contest.

Answer: 1. Cork’s no-shows are more commonly found in Páirc Uí Chaoimh - since their famous 1995 win in Killarney, only the 2004 Munster semi-final and final of four years ago could be considered underwhelming performances by the away team.

2. There is as much pace if not more in the Cork team. With the weather still to be warm, the boundless energy of Seán Powter is even more of a weapon than it was in the torrents of rain in Ballintemple last November.

And 3. Kerry’s winning margins have been getting progressively worse. From tanking Tyrone by 19 points, their advantages have dropped to 17 against Clare and 11 against Tipperary the last day.

Okay, that last one might be stretching it but in the Tipperary game Cork were presented with a rearguard template by last year’s provincial champions that if modified to allow more men in the Kerry half of the field could give Cork a foothold in this game. The last thing Cork need is for somebody like Tom O’Sullivan or Gavin White to spend as much time in the Cork half as their own but to deprive Kerry of a scorching start they will have to soak up that early pressure.

Cork’s restarts have to be so on the money to give them a fighting chance. David Moran knows he has a debt to pay from last year although Ian Maguire will be expecting it and fancy himself to win that battle again. Cork certainly can’t go short too often as the Kerry press has been shown to be suffocating.

The worrying aspect of Cork’s recent outings against Westmeath and Limerick is their collective lack of focus for patches of games. Ultimately, those lapses didn’t cost them in those games but here they are facing a team who aren’t contemplating defeat and determined to put behind them one of the longest winters in Kerry football history.

Conjure doubt in Kerry heads and Cork have a chance but if there is one team uncertain about itself right now it’s the visitors.

Verdict: Kerry.

All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship.

Group 1.

Tipperary v Limerick, Nenagh Éire Óg 2pm.

Limerick are already on the backfoot after losing at home to Wexford and Tipperary look to be in mean form.

Verdict: Tipperary.

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