Tuesday 23 January 2018

GAA hoping for bumper crowds as big hitters battle it out

Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

FOUR of the top six fancies for the All-Ireland SFC, including defending champions Dublin, are in provincial semi-final action on a weekend the GAA hope for attendances of 100,000 at their 13 championship games.

Up to 50,000 are expected in Croke Park tomorrow for the Leinster double header, featuring Kildare v Meath (2.0) and Dublin v Wexford (4.0). A big crowd is also expected in Clones today for the Donegal v Tyrone Ulster semi-final (4.30) while there are 10 football and hurling qualifiers ties on the agenda today and tomorrow.

Dublin will start as 1/10 favourites to reach the Leinster final but, if coincidence plays any role in sport, Wexford may be in with a good chance of upsetting their 7/1 odds. Their last championship win over Dublin was in 1956, which is exactly 56 years ago. It's scarcely a definitive sign that Wexford are poised for victory but, after running Dublin close in Leinster over the last two years, they will welcome any favourable omen.

Kildare are bidding for a fourth successive championship win over Meath in less than two years, having beaten them in an All-Ireland quarter-final in 2010 and in Leinster and the qualifiers last year.

In Ulster, Donegal will bid to reach successive Ulster finals for the first time since 1993 today against a Tyrone team that underlined its well-being with an impressive win over Armagh in the quarter-final. The game is live on RTE2 and BBC2 (4.30).

The eight first-round football qualifier games are divided between this evening and tomorrow and will pave the way for the second-round draw, which is live on TV3 on Monday (8.35am). The eight first-round winners will meet the beaten provincial semi-finalists: Kerry, Limerick, Galway, Leitrim, Monaghan, Donegal/Tyrone, Kildare/Meath, Dublin/Wexford.

FOCUS ON LEINSTER'S FAB FOUR -- P74-75

EUGENE McGEE: 'HARD TO SEE PAST THE DUBS' -- P73

CYRIL FARRELL: 'DALY HAS A WEEK TO SAVE HIS TEAM' -- P70

Irish Independent

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