Today's provincial final previews
Munster SFC final
KERRY v LIMERICK
Published 04/07/2010 | 05:00
THIRTY FIVE years after captaining Kerry to a Munster title, Limerick manager Mickey Ned O'Sullivan will today attempt to topple his native county.
It won't be easy; Kerry are looking for their first Munster title since 2007 having seen Cork take provincial honours these last couple of years. But if you think two years is a long time to wait, then pity Limerick who have been waiting 114 years, having come so close in the last decade.
This game will go down to the wire but have Limerick enough scoring power to win and can they close out a game against Kerry, in Kerry?
Traditionally, they've depended on a wholesome team effort, with plenty of overlaps, steady free-taking and 70 minutes of sheer commitment. Ger Collins and Ian Ryan have helped boost this year's scoring averages but they did have nine different scorers against Waterford.
With Johnny McCarthy, John Galvin, Stephen Lucey and Stephen Kelly all getting games under their belts recently, they should be well prepared. Worryingly, though, they were beaten by Tipperary in a recent challenge.
At home, however, Kerry will have a strut even with no Paul Galvin around. Darragh ó Sé's retirement will play into the hands of John Galvin, possibly the best midfielder in the game, but the Kingdom simply have enough good players to cope with that potential difficulty.
Jack O'Connor's bench is teeming with talent and his squad will have benefitted from local championship outings. While Galvin's loss is colossal, Bryan Sheehan has really stepped up to the mark this season, and there's also Colm Cooper, Kieran Donaghy and Barry John Keane in scoring form. That's scoring power that Limerick may not possess. The game to be intense and tight, but as Kerry proved against Cork, their hunger is as strong as ever. Take the home side to come out on top in a tight contest.
Betting: Kerry 1/6; Limerick 11/2; Draw 11/1
Kerry: B Kealy; M Ó Sé, T Griffin, T O'Sullivan; T Ó Sé, M McCarthy, K Young; S Scanlon, A Maher; Darran O'Sullivan, Declan O'Sullivan, D Walsh; C Cooper, K Donaghy, B Sheehan.
Limerick: B Scanlon; M O'Riordan, J McCarthy, A Lane; S Lavin, S Lucey, P Ranahan; J O'Donovan, J Galvin; P Browne, J Ryan, S Buckley; G Collins, I Ryan, Stephen Kelly.
LEINSTER SHC FINAL
Kilkenny v Galway
Croke Park, 4.0
NO fear of Galway not getting enough games these days; they've been lining up the championship games lately, having played Wexford and then Offaly twice in recent weeks.
It's Galway's first ever Leinster final and it's hard to see this being anything other than a high-scoring affair with some of the best forwards in the game on view this afternoon.
Competition has intensified in the Kilkenny forward unit and it's hard to see a defence that has leaked so many goals in recent weeks being able to stem the likes of Henry Shefflin, Richie Power, who looks to have gone up a gear, Eddie Brennan and Aidan Fogarty.
It will also be interesting to see how Galway use Damien Hayes today. He was on fire against Offaly and is capable of playing anywhere in the full-forward line as well as pushing out to the wing. They might throw him into test Noel Hickey with his burning pace, leaving Joe Canning free to roam.
Ger Farragher has been their best player this season but if they are to win, they will need big displays from Aonghus Callanan, Niall Healy, Andy Smith, Joe Gantley and Iarla Tannian.
Galway should be much sharper than over the past few weeks. They'll have no fear of Kilkenny having come back from the dead at Nowlan Park in the league. But this is championship. This is Kilkenny and this is the Leinster final. We go with the tried and trusted.
Betting: Kilkenny 2/5; Galway 9/4; Draw 10/1
Kilkenny: PJ Ryan; J Dalton, N Hickey, J Tyrrell; T Walsh, B Hogan, JJ Delaney; M Fennelly, M Rice; TJ Reid, E Brennan, E Larkin; M Comerford, R Power, H Shefflin.
Galway (probable): C Callanan; D Joyce, S Kavanagh, O Canning; D Barry, T Og Regan, J Lee; G Farragher, A Cullinane; E Ryan, A Callanan, A Smith; J Canning, D Hayes, I Tannian.
-- DAMIAN LAWLOR