Thursday 14 December 2017

All-Ireland IHC semi-final


(Extra-time if necessary): Clare v Galway, Cusack Park, 6.0, Ennis, T Carroll (Offaly)

With the likes of Tony Carmody and Niall Gilligan still strutting their stuff, Clare look the most likely to progress.

Verdict: Clare

All-Ireland mh 'B' semi-finalS

(Extra-time if necessary)

Meath v Armagh, Inniskeen, 3.0,

R Mathews (Antrim)

Verdict: Meath

Kildare v Roscommon, Moate, 3.0,

E Shaughnessy (Galway)

Verdict: Roscommon

lADIES sFc quarter-finals

(Extra-time if necessary)

Mayo v Kerry, St Brendan's Park, Birr, 4.15, P Kehoe. *Live TG4

This is a repeat of last year's Round 1 qualifier meeting, which Kerry won by a single point. Last year may well go down in Mayo history as their annus horribilis, but this season wasn't looking much better, with no wins in Division 1 and relegation. However, less than three months later, things are looking up for the westerners as they dethroned Galway as Connacht champions. They now face a Kerry side who have bounced back magnificently from their Munster final loss to Cork with a very impressive win over Donegal in the qualifiers. However, you get the feeling that this is about so much more for this Mayo team and with Cora Staunton back to her best, they will take some stopping.

Verdict: Mayo

Mayo -- Y Byrne (capt); L Ryder, C Hanahoe, D McDonagh; N Hurst, M Carter, N Tierney; C Egan, F McHale; S Cafferkey, A Gilroy, K Sullivan; C Hegarty, C Staunton, L Cafferkey.

Kerry -- E Murphy; C Kelly, A Leonard, A Lyons; D Hallissey, A Desmond, SJ Joy; L Scanlon, B Breen (capt); M Quirke, M O'Donoghue, L Galvin; S Houlihan, P Dennehy, L Ni Mhuircheartaigh.

Laois v Tyrone, St Brendan's Park,

Birr, 6.0, S Joy. *Live TG4

This Laois team have been everyone's second favourite -- so close in last year's semi-final and a heroic performance against Cork in this year's Division 1 final. Joe Higgins has a young, vibrant and skilful team motoring well, but they had been coming up short time and time again.

However, they now have silverware to show for their efforts after their last-gasp Leinster final win over Meath and that boost should have them in the perfect place as they head into this game against the 2010 runners-up. The one issue facing the O'Moore County is the withdrawal of the Quigley sisters from the panel, Aisling being their captain and corner-back. The effect that might have is hard to quantify, but Tyrone, and Gemma Begley in particular, will look to exploit any perceived weakness. We can expect a tough battle, but Laois to prevail with Lawlor, Kirwan and rising star Sinead Doogue leading the charge.

Verdict: Laois

Laois -- C Dollard; L Hyland, G Dunne (capt), E Healy; A Taylor, J Moore, M McEvoy; A Casey, T Lawlor; M Kirwan, A Moore, M Dunne; M Kirwan, S Doogue, G Weston.

Tyrone -- S Lynch; E Teague, L Donnelly, S McLaughlin; M Gallagher, M Kelly, R Rafferty; S Donnelly, E Conlon; N Woods (capt), C Donnelly, A O'Kane; J Donnelly, G Begley, C McGahan.

Camogie Senior semi-finals

Galway v Kilkenny, Nowlan Park,

2.0, M O'Kelly (Cork)

Galway are marginal favourites against a youthful Kilkenny side. Neither team will lack for motivation, with the westerners keen to avenge last year's All-Ireland final defeat at the hands of Wexford, while Kilkenny lost out in the '09 decider to Cork. Noel Finn has made a number of positional switches throughout the season, and how his half-back line of Therese Maher (centre) Heather Cooney and Ann Marie Hayes, cope with the pace and power of score-getters Aoife Neary, Aine Fahy and Denise Gaule, could have a major say on their chances.

A difficult one to call, but Kilkenny's pace and ability to score crucial goals, in addition to the presence of All Star Ann Dalton at midfield, may shade it for the Cats.

Verdict: Kilkenny

Wexford v Cork, Nowlan Park, 4.0,

F McNamara (Clare)

All-Ireland champions Wexford sneaked their early-season meeting by the slimmest of margins, but Cork, under the guidance of Joe O'Brien, have racked up an impressive scoring card -- complemented by a teak tough defence, marshalled by the superb Rena Buckley and Amanda O'Regan.

Wexford forwards Ursula Jacob, All Star Una Leacy and Katrina Parrock have been in scintillating form all season and how they fare against the Cork rearguard is vital to their side's prospects. A fascinating tie is in store. Cork won't lack for motivation, while for Wexford, the goal is to retain their All-Ireland crown. Wexford's greater scoring threat should swing it in their favour.

Verdict: Wexford


All-Ireland MHC semi-final

Dublin v Waterford, Croke Park, 1.30,

G Duffy (Antrim). *LIVE RTE2

A five-point margin of defeat in the Munster final at the hands of Clare was widely said to have flattered Waterford, but they bounced back admirably to end Kilkenny's interest in the championship.

Drawing a line of form through Kilkenny, this game should be a lot tighter than the bookmakers expect.

Dublin beat the Cats by three points in the Leinster final, while Waterford had six points to spare and in the process, conceded just 0-9.

The likes of Adam O'Sullivan, Jake Dillon and Stephen Bennett can cause Dublin problems and while their experience of Croke Park might see them through, this one could be very close.

Odds: Dublin 8/15, Waterford 7/4, Draw 9/1

Verdict: Dublin

DUBLIN -- C Ryan; E Lowndes, C O'Callaghan, S McClelland; C Crummy,

J Desmond, M McCaffrey; C Cronin, G Whelan; E Ó Conghaile, C McHugh, C Kilkenny; P Winters, A Clabby, C Costello.

WATERFORD -- P Cooke; J Barron, D Ahern, C Walsh; I Kenny, D Foley, J Power;

S McNulty, R Barry; J Dillon, G O'Brien, D Breathnach; P O'Keeffe, S Bennett, C Curran.

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