Sunday 24 September 2017

GAA Previews

Martin Breheny & Donnchadh Boyle

Ulster SFC 1st round replay

TODAY

Down v Tyrone, Newry, 6.30, C Reilly (Meath)

James McCartan paused for a second when asked last Sunday if Down would have been better off to adopt a bolder approach in the first half. Instead, they had frequently played with 12 in their own half in an attempt to frustrate Tyrone. It didn't work. Tyrone led by five points at half-time, but should have been much further ahead, after kicking eight wides. With more accuracy, Tyrone would have been out of sight.

"You come to Healy Park against a hotly tipped Tyrone side who had been playing a division above you. You try to keep things tight and wait for the game to open up in the second half. Having said that, we were very unhappy with how we played in the first half," said McCartan.

That unhappiness led him to set up much more adventurously after the break, a policy that enabled Down to win the second half by 3-5 to 1-6. Encouraged by that and boosted by playing at home this evening, Down are certain to be positive from the start.

Will home advantage and a more attack-minded approach prove a match winner? Probably not. Tyrone should have been able to bolt the defensive locks when they led by seven points after 50 minutes last Sunday, but sloppy defending cost them dearly.

There's quite a lot of scope for improvement in Tyrone, not just defensively, but also in attack, where the man in possession was frequently isolated. A more efficient performance should steer them into the quarter-finals against Monaghan.

Last C'ship clash: Tyrone 2-11 Down 3-8 (Last Sunday)

It's a fact: Tyrone have won five and lost two of their seven championship replays during Mickey's Harte's 11-year term as manager.

Odds: Tyrone 4/9; Down 9/4; Draw 8/1.

Verdict: Tyrone

Down (SF v Tyrone) – B McVeigh; D McCartan, B McArdle, R Boyle; D Rooney, A Carr, C Garvey; P Turley, A Rogers; C Maginn, M Poland, K McKernan; D O'Hare, N Madine, C Laverty.

Tyrone – N Morgan; A McCrory, D McBride, B Tierney; R McNabb, M Donnelly, P Harte; C Cavanagh, C Clarke; P McNeice, S Cavanagh, C McGinley; D McCurry, N McKenna, K Coney.

Leinster SHC group qualifier

Westmeath v London, Cusack Park, 2.0

E Hasson (Derry)

Westmeath need to win to avoid being relegated to Christy Ring Cup level next year. Even if they win, they would have to beat this year's Christy Ring Cup winners to survive in the top flight. If London lose today, they will be relegated; if they draw, they will play the Christy Ring Cup winners to decide placings next year; if they win, they will qualify automatically for next year's Leinster championship.

Odds: Westmeath 2/5; London 9/4; Draw 10/1.

Verdict: Westmeath

Ulster MFC quarter-final

Monaghan P Tyrone P

Christy Ring Cup quarter-finals

(extra-time if necessary)

Wicklow v Mayo, Arklow, 2.30, S Cleere (Kilkenny)

Wicklow have recovered from a first-round defeat and can make home advantage count in this clash.

Verdict: Wicklow

Derry v Kildare, Owenbeg, 1.0, L McAuley (Antrim)

Derry knocked holders Down out last week thanks to a late Kevin Hinphey score and can maintain that momentum.

Verdict: Derry

Nicky Rackard Cup semi-finals

(extra-time if necessary)

Donegal v Fingal, Letterkenny, 2.30,

J Clarke (Cavan)

Donegal won the league play-off between the sides earlier this year.

Verdict: Donegal

Roscommon v Tyrone, Athleague, 2.30, T Carroll (Offaly)

The in-form Damian Casey can fire the Red Hands to success.

Verdict: Tyrone

Nicky Rackard Cup relegation play-off

(extra-time if necessary)

Sligo v Monaghan, Ballinamore, 2.30, B Sweeney (Cavan)

Both sides have shipped heavy defeats, but Sligo showed more in their game with Tyrone and might have the edge.

Verdict: Sligo

TOMORROW

Ulster SFC quarter-final

Derry v Donegal, Celtic Park, 2.0,

J McQuillan (Cavan) *Live TV3

After three seasons in which they lost only once (to Monaghan last year), starting as outsiders is new territory for Donegal in the Ulster championship – so how will they react?

The answer could be crucial against a Derry side which is facing a different question – how will they cope with the league final setback? Some of the season's gains were wiped out when they were demolished by Dublin in the final. The Dubs are capable of handing out big defeats, but it was worrying for Derry that once their captain Mark Lynch found no room for manoeuvre against Jonny Cooper, the rest of the attack seized up.

Lynch can expect equally close attention tomorrow in what may be a return to swarm defence by Donegal. Jim McGuinness says they are better prepared than last year, thanks to fewer injury problems (although Neil Gallagher is having difficulties), but the absence of Rory Kavanagh through suspension and the departure of Mark McHugh from the panel is a double setback.

This tie has the ingredients to make it one of the tightest marginals of the season, in which case Donegal's experience might be the decisive difference.

Last C'ship clash: Donegal 2-13 Derry 0-9 (2012 Ulster quarter-final)

It's a fact: Donegal have won Ulster first- round games for each of the last three years; Derry have lost two of the last three first- round games.

Odds: Derry 5/6; Donegal 6/5; Draw 15/2.

Verdict: Donegal

DERRY (SF v Donegal) – T Mallon; D McBride, G McKinless, C McKaigue; K Johnson, M Lynch, G O'Kane; F Doherty, P Bradley; C McFaul, S Leo McGoldrick, E Lynn; B Heron, E McGuckin, C O'Boyle.

Connacht SFC quarter-final

London v Galway, Ruislip, 3.0,

F Kelly (Longford)

Mayo taken to extra-time in 2011; Leitrim tested to the limit before winning by a point in 2012; Sligo beaten by a point last year – that's how London treat their guests in the brave new world under Paul Coggins! And then London beat Leitrim in a replay in last year's Connacht semi-final in Dr Hyde Park.

The days when London usually provided a comfortable warm-up for visitors are over, so Alan Mulholland will be very wary, especially since Galway aren't exactly a model of consistency these days. They remain an enigma, as proven in the recent league where they mixed the good, the moderate and the bad.

Still, they were two divisions higher than London and while playing at home will wipe out some of that natural advantage for the exiles, Galway will surely do enough to book a semi-final clash with Sligo.

Last C'ship clash: Galway 1-18 London 1-7 (2009 Connacht quarter-final)

It's a fact: The closest London have come to Galway from their eight championship games was in 1999 in a 10-point defeat.

Odds: Galway 1/7; London 5/1; Draw 14/1.

Verdict: Galway

London – A Faherty; P Butler, S Curran, D McCarthy; S Hannon, T Gaughan, M Walsh; M Gottsche, M Carroll; G Crowley, D Dunleavy, C O'Neill; E O'Neill, P Geraghty, J Feeney.

Galway – M Breathnach; D O'Neill, F Hanley, J Duane; G Bradshaw, G O'Donnell, P Varley; F O'Curraoin, T Flynn; M Lundy, S Walsh, J Kavanagh, M Martin, E Hoare, D Cummins.

Munster SHC quarter-final

Cork v Waterford, Thurles, 4.0, B Gavin (Offaly) *Live RTE 2

Waterford were tipped for relegation so often over the past five years that they took great delight in beating the odds. Eventually, their luck ran out, though, as they dropped out of division 1A in March, losing a relegation play-off to Dublin.

Waterford, Tipperary and Dublin all won two of the group games, so the margins between survival and the drop were so tight that it would be unwise to read too much into final league table. Besides, Waterford played all the top sides this year, so the perceived disadvantage of being in 1B won't become an issue for Derek McGrath's men until next season.

More relevant to tomorrow's clash is the new-look nature of the Waterford set-up, which has been made necessary by a combination of injuries and the need to integrate new talent into the team. Getting the balance right hasn't been easy, but McGrath had no option but to begin the rebuilding process. It adds to the workload for the team, especially since they are facing a more settled Cork outfit. Add in all the equations and it looks like advantage Leeside.

Last C'ship clash: Cork 1-19 Waterford 0-19 (2012 All-Ireland quarter-final)

It's a fact: Cork and Waterford have met 12 times in the championship since the turn of the millennium with each having won five times, while there have been two draws.

Odds: Cork 1/3; Waterford13/5; Draw 11/1.

Verdict: Cork

Cork – A Nash: S O'Neill, D Cahalane, S McDonnell; C Joyce, M Ellis, L McLoughlin; D Kearney, A Walsh; C Lehane, C McCarthy, P Cronin; A Cadogan, S Harnedy, P Horgan.

Waterford – S O'Keeffe; T Burke, L Lawlor, N Connors; J Nagle, M Walsh, B Coughlan; K Moran, E Barrett; C Dunford, P Mahony, A Gleeson; B O'Sullivan, S Walsh, J Dillon.

Leinster SHC group qualifier

Laois v Antrim, Portlaoise, 3.0, F Horgan (Tipperary)

Both have qualified for tomorrow week's Leinster quarter-finals. If Laois win or draw, they will play Wexford; if they lose they will play Galway. If Antrim win, they will play Wexford, if they lose or draw, they will face Galway.

Last C'ship clash: Laois 1-16 Antrim 0-13 (2013 Leinster 1st round)

It's a fact: Laois lead 3-2 from the last five championship meetings with Antrim over the last nine years.

Odds: Laois 2/7; Antrim 3/1; Draw 11/1

Verdict: Laois

LAOIS (SH v Antrim)– E Reilly; J A Delaney, B Campion, B Stapleton; J Fitzpatrick, M Whelan, D Palmer; C Dunne, P Whelan; J Purcell, W Hyland, S Maher; N Foyle, R King, T Fitzgerald.

Ulster MFC quarter-finals

Derry v Donegal, Celtic Park, 12.15, R Barry (Down)

Derry conceded a walkover in the Ulster minor league earlier this year, but they are backboned by the St Pat's, Maghera team that reached the final of the Hogan Cup.

Verdict: Derry

Armagh v Cavan, Clones, 7.0, S Laverty (Antrim)

Cavan won the league clash between the sides and can repeat the dose here.

Verdict: Cavan

Munster IHC quarter-final

Cork v Waterford, Semple Stadium, 2.0, D O'Driscoll (Limerick)

Waterford include some of their emerging young talent, with Michael Harney and Ryan Donnelly, who won an All-Ireland minor medals with Waterford as well as a schools title with Dungarvan colleges, named to start. Cork have also named a strong side with current senior panelist Cormac Murphy set to start, along with Michael O'Sullivan and Colm Spillane who both saw league action.

Verdict: Cork

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