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All-Ireland SFC Qualifiers RD 1

Clare v Down, Cusack Park, 3.0,P O'Sullivan (Kerry): Danny Hughes joined Down's already lengthy injury list during the week, while Clare will be without the suspended Graham Kelly.

After being comprehensively dismissed by Armagh, Down have something to prove and that could be bad news for the Banner.

Last championship clash: none

Odds: Clare 7/1 Down 1/12 Draw 14/1

Verdict: Down

Laois v Tipperary, Portlaoise, 7.0, M Condon (Waterford)

A repeat of last year's first-round clash, which brought an end to Sean Dempsey's reign as Laois boss. Tipp don't have home advantage this year, but have been boosted by the return of Sean Carey to their ranks after being let go from Declan Ryan's hurling panel. Justin McNulty has completely rejigged his defence after their listless display against Dublin and they look to have the edge in quality here.

Last championship clash: Tipperary 0-13 Laois 0-12 (2010 R1 qualifier)

Odds: Laois 2/5 Tipp 5/2 Draw 15/2

Verdict: Laois

Antrim v Westmeath, Casement Park, 2.0, M Sludden (Tyrone)

Dessie Dolan has once again shaken off a late injury scare to be named in the starting 15, while AFL-bound John Heslin has also been handed the No 11 shirt in a completely new half-forward line. Liam Bradley can call on the services of Crusaders goalkeeper Sean O'Neill, despite their Europa League clash with Fulham next month. Westmeath have struggled since the league, but can still win in Belfast.

Last championship clash: Westmeath 0-14 Antrim 1-10 (2002 R1 qualifier)

Odds: Antrim 5/6 Westmeath 6/5 Draw 15/2

Verdict: Antrim

Louth v Meath, Kingspan Breffni Park, 7.0, M Deegan (Laois)


Arguably the most significant draw the back door has thrown up since its inception in 2001, which can also provide a much-needed boost to attendances.

No shortage of motivation for Louth after last year, while Meath have plenty to prove in light of their second-half performance against Kildare, where they were shown to have no 'Plan B' once Kildare got to grips with their giant inside-forward line. Defeat to Carlow will go down as an opportunity lost for the Wee men and they can right a lot of wrongs here, but Meath have to get the nod if they can deliver a more consistent performance over the 70 minutes.

Last championship clash: Meath 1-12 Louth 1-10 (2010 Leinster final)

Odds: Louth 9/4 Meath 4/9 Draw 15/2

Verdict: Meath

London v Fermanagh, Ruislip, 1.30, D Fahy (Longford)

Can London build on their excellent showing against Mayo, where they came within a few moments of one of the biggest upsets in the history of the association, or is their cover now blown? Fermanagh are still without a host of their experienced players and had just six points to spare when the sides met in Enniskillen in the league. London will need injury worry Paul Geraghty in the full of his health, but with home advantage, it's now or never for the Exiles.

Last championship clash: None

Odds: London 2/1 Fermanagh 4/9 Draw 8/1

Verdict: London

Cavan v Longford, Kingspan Breffni Park, 5.0, M Duffy (Sligo)

A local derby, but very much the undercard at Breffni tonight. Home advantage made little impact for Cavan against Donegal, although Jim McGuinness' side are probably better than they are being given credit for. Longford have a league title under their belts and have proven themselves adept at taking a scalp or two in the back door and they should get another chance to repeat that trick.

Last championship clash: None

Odds: Cavan 6/5 Longford 5/6 Draw 15/2

Verdict: Longford

CAVAN -- J O'Reilly; M Cahill, T Corr, D O'Dowd; M McKeever, J McCutcheon, D O'Reilly; D Givney, G McKiernan; F Flanagan, M Lyng, N Murray; N McDermott, E Keating, S Johnston

Wicklow v Sligo, Aughrim, 5.0,

E Kinsella (Laois)

Aughrim is usually very difficult to get a result from and while Wicklow would have been disappointed with their performance against Kildare, the Lilies' dismantling of Meath puts some perspective on that display.

Sligo captain Charlie Harrison admitted that they are still carrying the baggage of last year's Connacht final and that's a worry, but Kevin Walsh turned down a chance to take over his native Galway to stay with Sligo and there's another kick in them yet.

Last championship clash: None

Odds: Wicklow 11/8 Sligo 8/11 Draw 15/2

Verdict: Sligo

Offaly v Monaghan, Tullamore, 7.0, S Doyle (Wexford)

Tom Cribbin spent part of last week defending the attitude of the Offaly players and that'll give the midlanders plenty of motivation. Monaghan's new-look side showed plenty of fight against Tyrone, but Tullamore is a difficult place to go. However, if they can put the shackles on Niall McNamee they can prevail, but it could be a lot closer than the bookmakers think.

Last championship clash: None

Odds: Offaly 9/4 Monaghan 4/9 Draw 15/2

Verdict: Monaghan

Next: All Qualifier winners go into the draw for Round 2; the losers' season is over.


Munster MHC semi-final

(Extra-time if necessary)

Waterford v Limerick, Walsh Park, 7.30, F Horgan (Tipperary)

Verdict: Limerick

Connacht MFC q/f

Sligo v Galway, Markievicz Park, 6.0, L Devaney (Mayo)

Verdict: Galway

Leinster MHC semi-finals

(Extra-time if necessary)

Dublin v Westmeath, Parnell Park, 7.0, P O'Dwyer (Carlow)

Verdict: Westmeath

Wexford v Kilkenny, Wexford Park, 7.0, J Keenan (Wicklow)

Verdict: Kilkenny

All Ireland SHC

Qualifiers -- Phase 1

( Extra-time if necessary)

Antrim v Carlow, Casement Park, 4.0, J McGrath (Westmeath)

Carlow aren't too happy to have to travel to Casement again after losing to a late rally there last year. They conceded four goals to Westmeath whom the Saffrons beat last time out and Dinny Cahill's side already have three games under the belt this summer.

Last championship clash: Antrim 2-18 Carlow 3-12 (2010 Qualifiers).

Odds: Antrim 2/7, Carlow 3/1, Draw 11/1.

Verdict: Antrim.

Cork v Offaly, Pairc Ui Chaoimh, 2.30, J Ryan (Tipperary)

Offaly's internal 'lock-out' should give added impetus to a side who have never really 'done' Qualifiers but they've only ever beat Cork once in the championship (2000 AI semi-final) and the Rebels' 10 goals against Laois indicate they're on a mission.

Last championship clash: Cork 3-19 Offaly 1-12 (2009 Qualifiers).

Odds: Cork 1/12, Offaly 7/1, Draw 14/1.

Verdict: Cork.



Leinster SF semi-finals

Carlow v Wexford, Croke Park,

2.0, M Collins (Cork)

It's 67 years since Carlow last reached -- and won - the Leinster title, while Wexford are bidding to reach the final for only the second time in 55 years, so there's a real novelty value to this clash.

Wexford are, of course, attempting to reach the final for the second time in four seasons, having failed to come anywhere close to doing themselves justice against Dublin in the 2008 decider. If -- as seems likely -- they return to the final they are likely to be a whole lot more resilient.

Firstly, though, they have to keep their eye very much on the semi-final ball against a Carlow team which upset the odds when beating Louth in dramatic circumstances in the semi-final. It was a brave performance by Carlow who came from behind to win by a point.

And while they will again start as long odds outsiders, they will be fortified by the courageous recovery against Louth, plus the fact that Carlow have a good championship record against Wexford, having beaten them nine times, drawn eight and lost 12 of 29 Leinster clashes. That's Carlow's best record against all Leinster opposition with the exception of Wicklow.

This is a very special occasion for Carlow, but Wexford looked most impressive when disposing of Offaly and Westmeath, racking up a total of 3-40 in the process. It points to another good day for Wexford.

Last C'ship clash: Wexford 3-12 Carlow 2-10 (2005 Leinster quarter-final)

Odds: Wexford 1/10; Carlow 13/2; Draw 14/1

Verdict: Wexford

Next: Winners play Dublin or Kildare in Leinster final on July 10; Losers head for Rd 2 qualifiers on July 9.

Carlow -- T O'Reilly; A Murphy, C Lawlor, B Kavanagh; P Cashin, S Redmond, K Nolan; Brendan Murphy, D Foley; P Hickey, T Walsh, E Finnegan; Brian Murphy, S Gannon, D St Ledger.

Wexford -- A Masterson; J Wadding, G Molloy, B Malone; A Flynn, D Murphy, A Doyle; R Quinlivan, D Waters; S Roche, C Lyng, B Brosnan; C Morris, E Bradley, R Barry.

Dublin v Kildare, Croke Park,

4.0, C Reilly (Meath)

*Live RTE

The odds don't reflect the reality, although Dublin are entitled to be favourites, having lost just one game in Leinster since the start of the 2005 season.

Granted, they have beaten Kildare only once in that period (the 2009 Leinster final) at a time when the Lilywhites were not as settled or as confident as they are nowadays. Kildare's steady rise up the championship rankings has been one of the features of recent championships, although they have yet to make a title breakthrough.

Their dismissal of Meath three weeks ago suggests that they are well prepared for the latest attempt to win the Leinster title for the first time since 2000, but they will need to be if they are to dislodge Dublin, followed by the Carlow-Wexford winners.

Granted, Laois offered them no real resistance in the quarter-final, but there was whole lot to admire about Dublin's league campaign, all the way to the last quarter of the final where they were hunted down by Cork's relentless drive.

Kildare are very persistent too, often doing their best work in the second half. However, it remains to be seen how they cope with Dublin's attacking flair. Neither Wicklow nor Meath tested them in that department, but Dublin most assuredly will.

The Dubs have been delivering an impressive goal haul, which is quite a plus for any side and could again prove the difference.

Last C'ship clash: Dublin 2-15 Kildare 0-18 (2009 Leinster final)

Odds: Dublin 4/9; Kildare 9/4; Draw 8/1.

Verdict: Dublin

Next: Winners play Carlow or Wexford in Leinster final on July 10; Losers head for Rd 2 qualifiers on July 9.

Dublin -- S Cluxton; P Conlon, R O'Carroll, M Fitzsimons; J McCarthy, G Brennan, K Nolan; D Bastick, MD Macauley; P Flynn, A Brogan, B Cullen; D Connolly, E O'Gara, B Brogan.

Kildare -- S Connolly; A MacLochlainn, M Foley, H McGrillen; G White, B Flanagan, E Bolton; J Doyle, H Lynch; M O'Flaherty, E O'Flaherty, E Callaghan; A Smith, T O'Connor, J Kavanagh.

Connacht SF semi-final

Mayo v Galway, Castlebar, 2.0,

R Hickey (Clare)

*Live RTE

The Connacht race began eight weeks ago; some counties will have played three games by this evening, while eight will be out of champ-ionship 2011, yet Galway will be having their first outing tomorrow.

All very strange, though the crazy schedule will be far from the minds of Mayo and Galway supporters as they converge on McHale Park for the latest instalment of one of football's most enduring rivalries.

Both sides go into the game against a very uncertain background. Galway were relegated after a long stint in Division 1, while Mayo just about survived in the top flight before coming desperately close to losing to London in the first round.

Was it a symptom of something serious or a mere blip? The fact that first season manager, James Horan made several changes, including re-locating Trevor Mortimer to the half-back line four years after he last played there, suggests a level of unease.

Galway introduce three of the All-Ireland U-21 team. Colin Forde, Jonathon Duane and Mark Hehir, but it's the role of experienced hands Padraic Joyce, Joe Bergin, Finian Hanley and Gary Sice which could prove most influential.

Mayo have beaten Galway in their last three competitive games (two league one championship) and since this rivalry tends to sway over and back all the time, there's a case to be made for Galway on the law of averages.

However, home advantage may just keep the pendulum on Mayo's side for now.

Last C'ship clash: Mayo 2-12 Galway 1-14 (2009 Connacht final)

Odds: Mayo 4/5; Galway 11/8; Draw 8/1.

Verdict: Mayo

Next: Winners play Roscommon in Connacht final on July 17; Losers head for Rd 2 qualifiers on July 9.

Mayo -- R Hennelly, T Cunniffe, A Feeney, K Higgins; R Feeney, D Vaughan, T Mortimer; S O'Shea, A O'Shea; K McLoughlin, A Dillon, A Moran; C O'Connor, A Freeman, J Doherty.

Galway -- A Faherty; A Burke, C Forde, J Duane; G O'Donnell, G Higgins, G Sice; J Bergin, F Hanley; O Concannon, M Hehir, G Bradshaw; P Joyce, P Conroy, C Bane.

Ulster SFC semi-final

Donegal v Tyrone, Clones, 3.30

J McQuillan (Cavan)

Despite enjoying the best decade in their history, it's 15 years since Tyrone reached a third successive Ulster final, while Donegal last reached the final in 2006.

It looked as if Donegal's season was in danger of being derailed when Michael Murphy was sent off on a straight red card against Cavan, but it was subsequently rescinded, so he will take his place in attack, much to the relief of manager, McGuinness and the supporters.

McGuinness has put down a solid base in his first season, steering Donegal into Division 1 before comfortably seeing off the challenge of Antrim and Cavan in the championship. Most title aspirants would fancy themselves against that pair, but the work still had to be done and, in fairness, Donegal saw it through without fuss.

However, they must now step up to a whole new level against a football superpower, albeit one which doesn't appear capable of generating as much as it used to. Tyrone are still largely reliant on the core of the 2005/2008 teams, which is understandable up to a point, but it does raise questions about the true merit of the young talent which looked so exciting a few seasons back.

Donegal have the energy, the game plan and the individual enterprise to really test Tyrone, but big time experience can be quite an advantage in this type of situation. It could well tip the balance Tyrone's way in a very tight marginal.

Last C'ship clash: Tyrone 2-15 Donegal 1-7 (2007 Ulster semi-final)

Odds: Tyrone 8/13; Donegal 13/8; Draw 15/2.

Verdict: Tyrone

Next: Winners play Derry in Ulster final on July 17; Losers head for Rd 2 qualifiers on July 9.

Tyrone -- P McConnell, M Swift, J McMahon, R McMenamin, D Harte, C Gormley, P Jordan; K Hughes, S Cavanagh; B Dooher, B McGuigan, P Harte; M Penrose, M Donnelly, S O'Neill.

Donegal -- P Durcan; K Lacey, N McGee, P McGrath; M Boyle, A Thompson, K Cassidy; R Kavanagh, K Rafferty; M McElhinney, M McHugh, R Bradley; C McFadden, M Murphy, P McBrearty.


Connacht MFC semi-final

Mayo v Roscommon, Castlebar, 12.0, R McBrien (Leitrim)

Verdict: Mayo

Ulster U-21 H Shield final

Donegal v Tyrone, Clones, L MacAuley (Antrim)

Verdict: Tyrone




Clare v Tipperary, 1.0, Cusack Park, Ennis, K O'Brien (Dublin)

Tipperary are on a roll following two comprehensive early round victories. Tipp manager John Lillis will have been impressed with the form of Jill Horan, who hit 1-3 from midfield in last week's encounter.

Teenage attacker Sarah Fryday is growing in stature with each match, notching up 1-2 against Offaly with the ever reliable Clare Grogan hitting 0-6 (0-3f). Lillis will be expecting more of the same against a Clare side, who narrowly lost out to Galway in the closing stages. The Banner need to win and with home advantage they may pull it off.

Verdict: Tipperary

Dublin v Offaly, 3.0, Naomh Mearnog, Portmarnock,

A Lagrue (Kildare)

Dublin, despite two opening round defeats, having been showing signs of improvement and will fancy their chances for Saturday's tie.

Both sides will be anxious to collect their first win of the season with Offaly, falling to Tipp and Kilkennny respectively. Joachim Kelly's side will be once again depending on Elaine Dermody for the bulk of their scores and Michaela Morkan at centre back to shore up the defence. The concession of goals has proved damaging for Offaly, but with Dublin struggling to come up with scores, the visiting side may have enough to come out on top.

Verdict: Offaly

Wexford v Kilkenny, 5.0, Wexford Park, E MacSuibhne (Dublin)

Wexford got their campaign back on track last weekend with a morale-boosting win over a re-emerging Cork side.

Goalkeeper Mags D'Arcy pulled off a crucial save in the dying moments, and she will need to keep her defence well marshalled against a Kilkenny attack which racked up 2-12 last weekend.

Aoife Neary, Michelle Quilty and the mercurial Ann Dalton will be the ones to watch. Wexford supremo JJ Doyle will be relatively pleased with his attacking options and their pace and power may prove too strong for Kilkenny. Captain Ursula Jacob hit 0-8, with Katrina Parrock and Una Leacy also leading the way against Cork. Wexford, in front of a home crowd and with firepower like that, it's hard to go against the champions.

Verdict: Wexford


ALL-IRELAND senior c'ship

Galway v Cork, 5.0,

Pearse Stadium

This has the potential to be the game of the weekend. Galway have developed a bit of momentum, although they were fortunate enough to get over neighbours Clare.

Cork have looked as if they were regaining their 'mojo' until Wexford put a stop to their gallop last Saturday.

Verdict: Cork

Irish Independent