GAA previews: St Thomas’ should grasp second opportunity with both hands

John Fogarty talks us through the weekend's GAA action.
GAA previews: St Thomas’ should grasp second opportunity with both hands

CRUCIAL: St.Thomas’ Eanna Burke celebrates scoring a goal

SATURDAY

Munster Club IFC semi-final: Rathmore (Kerry) v Kanturk (Cork), Páirc Uí Chaoimh 1pm 

Relief was the overriding sentiment for Rathmore in securing their return to the senior ranks for the first time since 2019. This is bonus territory but this relative derby will pique their interest. Kanturk’s attack is pretty potent and the combination of exuberance and experience from the extended Walsh clan can’t be underestimated. Neither can Kanturk’s size but Rathmore have been tested enough to be right for this challenge. 

Verdict: Rathmore.

Munster Club JFC semi-finals: Fossa (Kerry) v Castlemahon (Limerick), Coolyroe 1pm

Resting their leading players as they did against Dr Crokes in the O’Donoghue Cup last weekend, Fossa let everybody, especially Castlemahon, know that this game was at the forefront of their thoughts. Limerick hurler Seamus Flanagan can give Fossa’s defence a headache or two but it should be migraine central at the other end with the Clifford brothers causing havoc. 

Verdict: Fossa

GIFTED: David Clifford of Fossa has been lighting up the Junior Championship in the Kingdom.
GIFTED: David Clifford of Fossa has been lighting up the Junior Championship in the Kingdom.

Kilmurry (Cork) v Thurles Sarsfields (Tipperary), Templetuohy 1pm.

The quarter-final win over Liscannor will have Thurles sharpened but Kilmurry’s win over Cobh coming a couple of weeks ago has given them enough time to rightly celebrate and park their county triumph. In-form Pádraig Berhanu could be the x-factor that guides Kilmurry to the final. 

Verdict: Kilmurry.

Ulster Club SFC semi-final: Enniskillen Gaels (Fermanagh) v Kilcoo (Down), Athletic Grounds 6pm 

Kilcoo will have to be business-like. Enniskillen Gaels know they have to make this game a bit of a dogfight if they are to stand a chance but then Kilcoo, as much as they were expansive in seeing off Ballybay, can transform themselves for a war of attrition if needs be. Do they choose to hit Enniskillen early or look to grind it out is the question, but the result shouldn’t be in any doubt. 

Verdict: Kilcoo

Ladies Football All-Ireland Club SFC semi final: Ballymacarbry (Waterford) v Kilkerrin-Clonberne (Galway), Dungarvan, 1pm

Ballymacarbry have enjoyed a superb run to the All-Ireland semi-finals but now the acid test awaits them. They won a 41st consecutive Waterford title before defeating Cork, Kerry and Clare opponents en route to winning a first Munster Senior A crown since 2000. Ballymac got the better of Mourneabbey, Southern Gaels and Banner to taste provincial glory, as Kilkerrin-Clonberne landed a fifth straight Connacht title.

Leading the line at centre forward for Ballymacabry is the vastly-experienced former county star Michelle Ryan, while current county ace Aileen Wall has been in scintillating form of late.

Kilkerrin-Clonberne will look to the creative skills and direct running of captain Louise Ward at centre forward, while the inside line of Eva Noone, Ailish Morrissey and Chloe Miskell is capable of wreaking havoc.

Verdict: Ballymacabry.

SUNDAY

Munster Club SFC semi-finals: Kerins O'Rahilly's (Kerry) v Éire Óg Ennis (Clare), Tralee, 1 pm.

The bookmakers have the odds tilted severely in Kerins O’Rahillys’ favour, though that reflects this game taking place in Tralee. Éire Óg were goal-hungry last day out and they should be shown respect from a team that failed to win any of their group stage games in the county championship but have to be propelled by the club final win over Templenoe. From David Moran up, Kerins O’Rahilly’s have the nous to pull through an encounter that could be more awkward than anticipated. 

Verdict: Kerins O’Rahilly’s.

BIG INFLUENCE: David Moran, Kerins O'Rahillys is tackled by Spa's Liam Kearney.
BIG INFLUENCE: David Moran, Kerins O'Rahillys is tackled by Spa's Liam Kearney.

Clonmel Commercials (Tipperary) v Newcastle West (Limerick), FBD Semple Stadium 1pm 

Newcastle West would be defined as the classic banana skin for Nemo Rangers-slaying Commercials but they are much more than that. Commercials can tell themselves beating Nemo was just a win but it will have felt more than that and their ability to come down from it is as much the question here as anything else. Limerick champions the last two years, Newcastle West know there is a limit to their scoring so keeping tabs on Commercials’ attack is the priority. Expect a tight match and a narrow Commercials win. 

Verdict: Clonmel Commercials.

Munster IFC semi-final: Ballina (Tipperary) v Na Piarsaigh (Limerick), Kilmallock 1pm

After the disappointment of their hurlers losing out to Ballygunner last weekend, Na Piarsaigh direct their focus to seeing off a decent Ballina side that have Steven O’Brien and Michael Breen in their ranks. Na Piarsaigh have the bulk and the quality to edge what should be a decent semi-final. 

Verdict: Na Piarsaigh.

Ulster Club SFC semi-final: Erin’s Own, Cargin (Antrim) v Glen (Derry), O'Neill's Healy Park 1.30pm (Live TG4) 

Cargin certainly have Glen’s attention having beaten a team as doughty as Naomh Conaill. Glen could be forgiven for only having eyes for Kilcoo after last year but they can’t fall into the trap of believing they can dismiss The Glenties’ team early doors. They will win but coming through it injury-free and without too much hassle ahead of next month’s final are the priorities. Verdict: Glen.

MAN-MOUNTAIN: Glen’s Conor Glass. 
MAN-MOUNTAIN: Glen’s Conor Glass. 

Leinster Club SHC semi-finals: Naas (Kildare) v Ballyhale Shamrocks (Kilkenny), Croke Park 1.15pm (TG4 website) 

A day Naas should embrace. If facing Ballyhale Shamrocks wasn’t daunting enough that it takes place in Croke Park might add to the dread. They were so much better than Shinrone the last day but Tom Mullaly’s involvement with them means Shamrocks’ antennae will be up. New father TJ Reid may return for the Shamrocks team as they return to where they caught out so late against Ballygunner last February. 

Verdict: Ballyhale Shamrocks

St Mullin's (Carlow) v Kilmacud Crokes (Dublin), Croke Park 3.15pm (Live TG4)

After both teams had a lengthy break from their county successes, the St Mullin’s-Ferns St Aidan’s game was by most accounts of good quality. St Mullin’s will be grateful for it against the Dublin champions who were tested by Na Fianna but looked a level above Clough-Ballacolla in the closing stages of their provincial quarter-final. Oisín O’Rorke is in mighty form and will take a lot of handling. 

Verdict: Kilmacud Crokes

Galway SHC final replay Loughrea v St Thomas', Pearse Stadium 1 pm. 

Loughrea’s performance was more than commendable in the replay but there will be a lot of soul-searching in the St Thomas’ ranks these last few days. Whether it was a lack of appetite, indifference or simply Loughrea being more up to the pitch of the game, St Thomas’ know that they are slightly fortunate to have a second day out. They should grasp the opportunity with both hands. 

Verdict: St Thomas’.

Ladies Football All-Ireland Club SFC semi-final: Donaghmoyne (Monaghan) v Kilmacud Crokes (Dublin), Donaghmoyne Fontenoys

Donaghmoyne are five-time All-Ireland Senior winners and 14-time Ulster champions and perhaps their most recent provincial success will go down as one of the most satisfying.

Reduced to 14 players early on, when Hazel Kingham was red-carded, Donaghmoyne called upon their vast reserves of experience to dig out a victory against St Ergnat’s, Moneyglass.

Now, they have home advantage for an All-Ireland semi-final against Kilmacud Crokes, as they aim for a first final appearance since 2016.

Kilmacud Crokes recently captured their very first Dublin senior title – before going on to land their a maiden Leinster senior crown.

They have former Dublin county panellist Michelle Davoren pulling the strings at full-forward, while Éabha Rutledge, thankfully recovered from long-term concussion issues, netted a hat-trick of goals in the Leinster decider.

Cathriona McConnell, still operating brilliantly in attack, has a weekend to remember in store. She gets married on Saturday before lining out on Sunday.

Verdict: Donaghmoyne

Previews: John Fogarty and Jackie Cahill

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