Monday 22 January 2018

GAA Previews

Martin Breheny & Cliona Foley

cadbury All-Ireland

TODAY

U-21 FC semi-finals

(Extra-time if necessary)

Cork v Roscommon, 3.0, Portlaoise, A Nolan (Wicklow). *Live TG4.

TWO teams who have been dominating their provinces at U-21 but badly want to win an All-Ireland will open the double-header at O'Moore Park.

Cork last won an U-21 title in 2009 – they lost last year's final to Galway. They have named an unchanged team from the one that beat Tipperary to win their fourth Munster final in a row.

They have seven survivors from the team that edged out Cavan in last year's semi-final; Conor Dorman, Mark Sugrue, Brian O'Driscoll, Sean Kiely, Dan MacEoin and Alan Cadogan are all emerging at senior level.

Roscommon have won three of the last four Connacht titles and lost the All-Ireland final to Dublin two years ago.

They coasted through Connacht this year and in David Murray, the Smith brothers and Diarmuid Murtagh, they have plenty of rising stars, but have injury worries over key men Fintan Kelly and Cathal Compton.

Odds: Cork 10/11, Roscommon 11/10, Draw 15/2.

Verdict: Cork.

CORK – M Martin; J Davis, C Dorman, S Cronin; B O'Driscoll, S White, K Crowley; K Fulignati, I Maguire; K O'Hanlon, M Sugrue, S Kiely; D MacEoin, J Corkery, A Cadogan.

Cavan v Dublin, 4.45, Portlaoise, D O'Mahoney (Tipperary).* Live TG4.

An exciting clash in prospect here between two teams who have never met before at this level. Cavan have beaten all the big guns – Derry, Tyrone, Monaghan and Donegal – en route to their fourth Ulster in a row.

They were pipped by Cork, by a point, in last year's semi-final. Killian Clarke and Michael Argue have already made their mark at senior level.

But Dublin – who have won four of the last six Leinsters – have captured two of the last four All-Ireland U-21 titles, and this team includes many of a golden minor team. Only Meath (0-15 to 0-10 in the final) managed to give Dessie Farrell's team a decent test in Leinster.

Jack McCaffrey, Cormac Costello and Paul Mannion are already household names and Costello and Shane Carthy have been passed fit; while they are without Ciaran Kilkenny (cruciate), their bench has players of the calibre of St Vincent's Gavin Burke and Lucan's ex-dual minor star Emmet O'Conghaile.

Odds: Dublin 4/9, Cavan 9/4, Draw 8/1.

Verdict: Dublin.

DUBLIN – L Molloy; R McGowan, D Byrne, R McDaid; E Lowdnes, J Small, J McCaffrey; P O'Higgins, S Cunningham; N Scully, S Carthy, P Mannion; C McHugh, M Deegan, C Costello.

LEINSTER MFC

(3.0 unless stated)

(Extra-time if necessary)

Kilkenny v Offaly, Urlingford, N McKenna (Kildare). Verdict: Offaly

Meath v Wicklow, Navan, F Smyth (Offaly).

Verdict: Meath

Laois v Carlow, Portlaoise, 7.0, S Johnson (Louth). Verdict: Laois

Longford v Dublin, Longford, 1.30, B Cawley (Kildare). Verdict: Dublin

Westmeath v Kildare, Mullingar, P Maguire (Longford). Verdict: Kildare

Louth v Wexford, Drogheda, B Tiernan (Dublin). Verdict: Wexford

CAMOGIE

Division 3 semi-final

Dublin v Roscommon, O'Brien Park, Tullamore, 1.0, G Browne.

Verdict: Roscommon.

TOMORROW

Allianz NHL semi-finals

Galway v Kilkenny, Gaelic Grounds, 2.0

J McGrath (Westmeath) * Live TG4

On the basis of league results so far, the best attack (Kilkenny) are taking on the best defence (Galway).

Kilkenny have averaged almost 3-19 per game while Galway's average giveaway was 1-16. That's a nine-point differential, so something has to give in the third clash between the counties this year.

Kilkenny won in the Walsh Cup and Division 1A group games and despite a solid recovery in their last three games against Tipperary, Clare and Limerick, Galway could be headed for another setback. Kilkenny hit Wexford for 4-22, Waterford for 4-20 and Tipperary for 5-20, underlining just how potent their front line is on a really good day.

Kilkenny's rebuild has progressed well, but it remains to be seen how many of the newcomers are aboard the starting 15 for championship duty.

Tomorrow will go some way to providing the answer, a process that can be further fine-tuned in the likely event of Kilkenny reaching the final for 10th time in 13 seasons.

Last meeting: Kilkenny 2-16 Galway 1-13 (March 9).

Odds: Kilkenny 4/9, Galway 9/4, Draw 10/1.

Verdict: Kilkenny.

KILKENNY – E Murphy; P Murphy, JJ Delaney, B Kennedy; P Walsh, B Hogan, C Buckley; M Fennelly, R Hogan; W Walsh, C Fennelly, TJ Reid; J Power, M Kelly, H Shefflin.

GALWAY – C Callanan; J Coeny, R Burke, D Collins; A Harte, I Tannian, Daithi Burke; David Burke, P Brehony; N Burke, C Cooney, A Smith; N Healy, J Glynn, C Mannion.

Clare v Tipperary, Gaelic Grounds, 4.0

C Lyons (Cork). *Live TG4

Eamon O'Shea was one of very few Tipperary people still trading in optimism after the seven-point defeat by Clare in Thurles 10 weeks ago. "We certainly wouldn't feel we're out yet in any sense," he said, pointing out that Tipp had shot 15 wides.

Things got worse before they got better for Tipp, who lost to Galway before posting wins over Dublin and Cork. The recovery has changed the mood in a county where there's still considerable confidence for the championship.

It's well-founded in an attacking sense as Tipp have been running in some big scores. On the minus side, they have the worst defensive record of the four semi-finalists (average concession 3-14).

Despite predictions by Davy Fitzgerald that Clare would be patchy in the league, they have maintained a solid consistency and they will be determined to press on and take the title for the first time since 1978.

Clare are marginal favourites but this one could swing the outsiders' way.

Last meeting: Clare 4-15 Tipperary 0-20 (March 9).

Odds: Clare 4/5; Tipperary 5/4; Draw 10/1.

Verdict: Tipperary

CAMOGIE

National LEAGUE Division 1 Semi-final

(2.0 unless stated)

Kilkenny v Wexford, WIT, A Lagrue

Kilkenny put their 100pc league record on the line and will be bidding to reach their second All-Ireland final in less than seven months.

Michelle Quilty, Denise Gaule and Shelly Farrell will pose serious questions of the Wexford defence.

A key battle will be between Una Leacy at centre-forward against Kilkenny centre-half Edwina Keane. Wexford's experienced Kate Kelly is not listed amongst the starters, but expect her to feature.

Wexford's power and the guile of Jacob, Parrock and co up front, should see them prevail.

Verdict: Wexford.

National LEAGUE Division 2

semi-finals

Down v Meath, Inniskeen, K O'Brien.

Verdict: Meath.

Cork v Laois, The Ragg, 3.15, J McDonagh.

Verdict: Cork.

Division 3 semi-final

Armagh v Westmeath, O Raghallaighs-Drogheda, 2.30, R Kelly. Verdict: Armagh.

Division 4 semi-final

Kerry v Dublin, The Ragg, 1.15, W Cole.

Verdict: Kerry.

Limerick v Tyrone, Edenderry GAA, M Ward. Verdict: Limerick.

Irish Independent

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