Wednesday 21 March 2018

Weekend GAA previews

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International Rules first test

Ireland v Australia, Gaelic Grounds, 7.0

Australia handed out an ominous 105-12 beating to a Cork Colleges selection that were admittedly young, but which also contained a host of inter-county players.

Anthony Tohill's side have had longer to prepare for the series than their Australian counterparts, as the AFL Grand Final went to a replay for the first time in decades, which ate into Mick Malthouse's preparation time. But that win over the students was, nonetheless, impressive with former Manchester United triallist Brad Green among many to catch the eye.

As is usually the case, Ireland are expected to struggle in the tackle, but the inclusion of a number of current and former AFL stars in Tohill's side means they should be better prepared than before.

Tohill's preparations haven't been ideal, with a number of players still involved with their clubs, but the vibes from the Irish camp are good and they should edge to a narrow success.

Odds: Ireland 4/6 Australia 11/10 Draw 20/1

Verdict: Ireland

Ulster club SHC final

Loughgiel (Antrim) v Keady (Armagh), Casement Park, 3.30

At times, the Ulster club hurling championship has represented little more than an extension of the Antrim championship. Keady are the first Armagh club to make it this far in the competition, but Loughgiel have too much.

Odds: Loughgiel 1/20 Keady 13/2 Draw 16/1

Verdict: Loughiel

Leinster club SFC

Portlaoise (Laois) v Moorefield (Kildare), 3.0, Portlaoise, D Fahy (Longford)

On the back of their rousing success over arch-rivals Sarsfields, Moorefield face a stiff test in the shape of Portlaoise. They were superb in their county semi-final, but needed a late intervention from former Celtic man Paul Cahillane to see them home in the decider. They'll still be fuming about the way they went out to Kilmurry-Ibrickane in the All-Ireland club semi-final last time around and they have all the motivation here.

Odds: Portlaoise 4/9 Moorefield 11/5 Draw 15/2

Verdict: Portlaoise

Garrycastle (Westmeath) v Longford Slashers, 3.15, Cusack Park,

M Deegan (Laois)

Garrycastle are the more experienced outfit with all the usual performers, including Des Dolan and David O'Shaughnessy, seeing them home in the final against Mullingar Shamrocks. However, Slashers are full of confidence and come into this game on the back of a long unbeaten run and if there's to be an upset this weekend, it could be here.

Odds: Garrycastle 1/3 Longford Slashers 11/4 Draw 8/1

Verdict: Slashers

Skryne (Meath) v Rathnew (Wicklow),

3.0, Navan, G McCormack (Dublin)

Meath clubs don't always live up to expectation in this competition, but Skryne have a good record, reaching the final in 2004. Leighton Glynn will travel from Ireland duty in Limerick to play in this one and he'll have to be on top of his game if they are to rattle Skryne, who still have Trevor Giles pulling the strings.

Odds: Skryne 4/9 Rathnew 9/4 Draw 15/2

Verdict: Skryne

Kilkenny SHC final

Carrickshock v O'Loughlin Gaels,

3.15, Nowlan Park

A first final appearance for Carrickshock since 1951, while no fewer than 14 of the Gaels side hold county medals from their 2003 success. O'Loughlin's win over five in-a-row chasing Ballyhale was a considerable achievement, but Carrickshock are a team reborn and in Richie Power they have a man on top of his game.

He has amassed 25 points in the quarter and semi-finals and is ably assisted by John Tennyson, who continues to play despite a serious knee injury, as well as Offaly's David Franks.

Odds: Carrickshock 4/6 Gaels 11/8 Draw 9/1

Verdict: Carrickshock

Carlow SFC final replay

Rathvilly v Old Leighlin, 3.45,

Dr Cullen Park

Rathvilly manager John Divilly has given Brendan Murphy the all-clear to play for Ireland tonight before travelling back to Carlow for club duty. And it's just as well for Rathvilly, as Murphy was the drawn game's star performer. Old Leighlin will be forgiven if they feel they missed their chance last time.

Odds: Rathvilly 8/13 Old Leighlin 13/8 Draw 13/2

Verdict: Rathvilly

Cork SFC final

Nemo Rangers v St Finbarr's,

4.0, Pairc Ui Chaoimh

St Finbarr's star Michael Shields sits out the Ireland game as the great city rivals meet in the decider for the first time in 17 years. St Finbarr's enjoyed success over Carberry Rangers in the semi-final, but face a very experienced Nemo side. Admittedly, they are not as laden down with county stars as they have been in the past, but the 'Barrs are looking at a second county final defeat in as many years.

Odds: Nemo 3/10 St Finbarr's 10/3 Draw 3/1

Verdict: Nemo Rangers

Mayo SFC final

Castlebar Mitchels v Ballintubber,

3.30, McHale Park

It will be a poignant occasion for the Feeney family after the tragic death of former Mayo footballer Ger, with relations involved in both clubs. Newly appointed county manager James Horan is in the box seat to view some of the county's best players as he takes charge of Ballintubber, who lost just one league game this year. Castlebar are managed by Peter Ford and can call on Barry Moran and Pat Kelly, but Ballintubber are playing in a division above the Mitchels and that could prove decisive.

Odds: Castlebar 8/11 Ballintubber 11/8 Draw 13/2

Verdict: Ballintubber

Tyrone SFC final

Coalisland v Carrickmore, 4.0, Omagh

The last time Coalisland reached this stage in 2007, they failed to deliver spectacularly and the club have gone without a senior title since 1990. But they have proved the doubters wrong with impressive wins over Clonoe and the Peter Canavan-trained Errigal Ciaran this season. Carrickmore are regulars in the decider and overturned a four-point deficit in the final quarter of their semi-final and that resolve will see them home here.

Odds: Coalisland 13/8 Carrickmore 8/13 Draw 13/2

Verdict: Carrickmore

Waterford SHC final

De La Salle v Ballygunner,

3.30, Walsh Park

Given the nature of the last year's championship encounter between these sides, there should be plenty of needle in this one. Ballygunner won out through a disputed late goal in a replayed quarter-final, which John Mullane missed through suspension. Amazingly, just eight of the side that started last year's final for Ballygunner are likely to start tomorrow due to retirements and injury, and this could swing the game in De La Salle's favour.

Odds: DLS 6/5 Ballygunner 8/11 draw 10/1

Verdict: Ballygunner

donnchadh boyle

Irish Independent

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