Tuesday 28 March 2017

TODAY'S CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEWS Damian Lawlor

Damian Lawlor

Connacht SFC semi-final

Roscommon v Leitrim

Dr Hyde Park 3.30

J McQuillan (Cavan)

WITH the number 10 shirt retired in memory of the late Philly McGuinness, this will be a very emotional occasion for the Leitrim men as they play competitively for the first time since his tragic death.

Through injury and emigration they are without a number of key players, including Emlyn Mulligan and Colin Regan (both cruciate). Gary McCloskey is in London while Adrian O'Flynn, Barry McWeeney and Pat Gilmartin are also abroad.

But they will be boosted by the fact that Roscommon, who had an eight-point win over London in the preliminary round, were far from impressive in that encounter. Roscommon will feel they have a great chance to make the Connacht final and if Donie Shine can get a bit of support up front they should prevail. But Leitrim have a good knack of making space in their forward lines and they won't need any motivating for this game.

Roscommon: G Clancy; S McDermott, P Domican, S Ormsby; S Purcell, C Dineen, D Casey; M Finneran, K Mannion; D Keenan, P Garvey, C Gregg; J Rogers, D Shine, G Heneghan.

Leitrim: E Lyons; D Beck, J McKeon, D Reynolds; J Glancy (St. Mary's), S Foley, W McKeon; T Beirne, S Canning; C Clarke, D O'Connor, M Foley; R Cox, J Glancy (Glencar/Manor), R Mulvey.

Odds: Roscommon 8/15; Leitrim 2/1; Draw 15/2

Verdict: Roscommon

Leinster SHC Semi-Final

Dublin v Kilkenny

Croke Park 2.0

D Kirwan (Cork)

WE can expect a crowded Dublin defence, maybe a sweeper, some short puckouts, a big target man in the shape of Liam Rushe and oceans of space for the likes of Dotsy O'Callaghan, but still it won't be enough to beat Kilkenny.

Richie Power is back fit for the Cats but Cha Fitzpatrick is out and Noel Hickey is back to full fitness for the first time in over a year. Brian Cody's men will be the overwhelming favourites and their forwards should have way too much power.

Along with O'Callaghan, Dublin full-back Tomás Brady is probably not fully right and they could be under fierce pressure today. They were really poor against Laois and their manager called for heart and guts in the wake of that display. If they don't show those traits today, it might not be pretty. They need a big game to show that Dublin hurling can still be a force.

Kilkenny: PJ Ryan; J Dalton, N Hickey, J Tyrrell; T Walsh, B Hogan, JJ Delaney; M Rice, M Fennelly; M Comerford, R Hogan, H Shefflin; E Brennan, TJ Reid, R Power.

Dublin: G Maguire; N Corcoran, T Brady, O Gough; S Hiney, J Boland, M O'Brien; J McCaffrey, S Durkin; S Lambert, P Kelly, L Rushe; D O'Callaghan, L Ryan, A McCrabbe.

Odds: Kilkenny1/16; Dublin 9/1; Draw 16/1

Verdict: Kilkenny

Leinster SHC Semi-Final

Galway v Offaly

Croke Park 4.0

J Ryan (Tipperary)

THEY might not play as badly as they did against Antrim but it's hard to see Offaly coming within seven or eight points here.

Galway were average enough against Wexford but they still won well and you'd expect the same here. John McIntyre hasn't changed the team much but Iarla Tannian and Aonghus Callanan coming in for Joe Gantley and the suspended Andy Smith.

Shane Dooley will need to be bang on form to keep his team within reach but his free-taking is excellent and that will be a help.

Expect a bright start from the underdogs but once Galway settle in, they should run out winners. Even without taking frees, Joe Canning should clock up a handsome tally.

Galway: C Callanan; D Joyce, S Kavanagh, O Canning; D Barry, T Og Regan, D Collins; G Farragher, D Burke; D Hayes, C Donnellan, A Callanan; A Harte, J Canning, I Tannian.

Offaly: TBA

Odds: Galway 1/12; Offaly 15/2; Draw 16/1

Verdict: Galway

Munster SHC Semi-Final

Cork v Limerick

Páirc Uí Chaoimh 4.0

J Owens (Wexford)

ONE thing's for sure: Cork won't be half as motivated for this game as they were for their opener with Tipperary.

There might not even be 10,000, so one-sided is the antipated nature of this clash.

Cork were on fire against Tipp and field an unchanged side and they will have more physical strength, power, experience and skill than their raw opponents.

Limerick field nine debutants; full-back Dave Breen, left half-back Paul Browne and centre- forward Paudie McNamara are the only survivors from those who were around for last year's All-Ireland semi against Tipp.

Centre-back and captain Bryan O'Sullivan and right half-forward James O'Brien were introduced as subs in Croke Park last year, while right corner-forward Graeme Murphy was the other member of last year's panel.

Apart from them, goalkeeper Tadhg Flynn is the only other with senior championship experience -- he played for Kerry against Cork in 2004.

Cork: D Og Cusack; S O'Neill, E Cadogan, B Murphy; J Gardiner, R Curran, S Og O hAilpin; T Kenny, C Naughton; B O'Connor, J O'Connor, N McCarthy; K Murphy (Sarsfields), A O hAilpin, P Horgan.

Limerick: T Flynn, S O'Neill, D Breen, K O'Rourke; S Riordan, B O'Sullivan, P Browne; T O'Brien, A Brennan; J O'Brien, P McNamara, S Herlihy; G Mulcahy, A Owens, R McKeogh.

Odds: Cork 1/100; Limerick 16/1; Draw 20/1

Verdict: Cork

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