Monday 20 November 2017

All-Ireland SFC Qualifiers Round 2


(Extra-time if necessary)

Down v Leitrim, Newry, 3.0,

M Sludden (Tyrone)

Leitrim have yet to win a single qualifier match since the back door's inception in 2001 and the omission of Wayne McKeon from the squad for disciplinary reasons doesn't help their chances of breaking that duck. Down should be a different side after their scare in Clare and are unlikely to need more last-ditch goal-line heroics from corner-forward Conor Laverty on home sod.

Last championship clash: Have never met.

Odds: Down 1/33, Leitrim 11/1, Draw 15/2.

Verdict: Down

Down -- B McVeigh; A Branagan, D Gordon, B McArdle; C Garvey, K McKernan, K Duffin; D Rooney, K King; L Doyle, M Clarke, B Coulter; C Laverty, P McComiskey, M Poland.

Leitrim -- C McCrann; D Reynolds, J McKeon, P Maguire; D Beck, G Reynolds, B Prior; D Lowe, D Sweeney; R Lowe, E Mulligan, C Clarke; B McDonald, J Glancy, A Croal.

Laois v Kildare, Portlaoise, 7.0,

D Coldrick (Meath). *Live TV3

It was first blood to Kieran McGeeney against his old friend Justin McNulty when these sides met in the league. The Laois manager identified the Lilies as "qualifier specialists" and it's hard to argue with that as they have reached the All-Ireland quarter-finals in '08 and '09 as well as an All-Ireland semi-final last year. Both sides have declared clean bills of health, but Laois' form line -- they beat Tipperary last time out -- doesn't suggest an upset.

Last championship clash: Kildare 2-18 Laois 0-9 (2009 Leinster semi-final).

Odds: Laois 9/4, Kildare 4/9, Draw 15/2.

Verdict: Kildare

Laois -- E Culliton; C Healy, K Meaney, M Timmons; D Strong, S Julian, P McMahon; P Clancy, B Quigley; C Begley, J O'Loughlin, N Donoher; R Munnelly, D Kingston, MJ Tierney.

Kildare -- S Connolly; A MacLochlainn, M Foley, H McGrillen; G White, M O'Flaherty, O Lyons; J Doyle, H Lynch; P O'Neill, E O'Flaherty, E Callaghan; R Kelly, T O'Connor, F Dowling.

Longford v Tyrone, Pearse Park, 7.0,

P McEnaney (Monaghan)

Ten of the last Tyrone side to play in Pearse Park in the spring of 2004 started the loss to Donegal a fortnight ago out so this is undoubtedly a team with plenty of miles on the clock. And Longford proved last year in their win over Mayo that they are experts in pushing a team in trouble over the edge.

Defeat for Mickey Harte's side would almost certainly signal the end of some stellar careers, but there was enough in the Donegal defeat to suggest there is at least one more kick in this side and the availability of Joe McMahon, despite a heavy blow to the head last time out, is hugely significant.

Last championship clash: Have never met.

Odds: Longford 3/1, Tyrone 1/3,Draw 15/2.

Verdict: Tyrone

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.

Longford -- D Sheridan; D Brady, B Gilleran, D Reilly; S Mulligan, K Diffley, N Farrell; B McElvaney, M Brady; D Barden, D Masterson, P Barden; D McElligott, B Kavanagh, S McCormack.

Armagh v Wicklow, Morgan Athletic Grounds, 7.0, P Fox (Westmeath)

Back in 2009, Wicklow beat three Ulster teams (Fermanagh, Cavan and Down) on the trot in the qualifiers and Mick O'Dwyer's men have already accounted for Sligo this year. However, the win came in the comfortable confines of Aughrim and Armagh at home are likely to produce something like the performance that saw them oust Down there in the Ulster championship.

Last championship clash: Have never met.

Odds: Armagh 1/6,Wicklow 5/1, draw 10/1.

Verdict: Armagh

Armagh -- P Hearty; A Mallon, B Donaghy, P Duffy; A Kernan, C McKeever, F Moriarty; J Lavery, C Vernon; K Dyas, B Mallon, M Mackin; M O'Rourke, S McDonnell, J Clarke.

Meath v Galway, Navan,

7.0, M Collins (Cork)

It's been a rough fortnight for Galway, who looked miles off the pace against Mayo in Connacht. It has since emerged that Padraic Joyce damaged an Achilles in the warm-up, while Michael Meehan was only fit for a cameo from the bench and their influence was sorely missed as Galway could only manage 1-6 over 70 minutes.

Meath's confidence is high after their dismantling of Louth. Cian Ward will be a marked man, but the switch of Shane O'Rourke to midfield could prove to be the most significant move made by Seamus McEnaney, with the Simonstown man looking very much at home in the engine room. Meath to prevail in a high-scoring affair.

Last championship clash: Meath 2-14 Galway 1-14 (2007 Round 4 qualifier).

Odds: Meath 4/9, Galway 9/4, Draw 15/2.

Verdict: Meath

Galway -- A Faherty; J Duane, F Hanley, C Forde; G Bradshaw, D Blake, G Sice, J Bergin, F O Currain; T Flynn, M Hehir, M Clancy; M Meehan, P Joyce, C Bane.

Antrim v Carlow, Casement Park,

3.0, E Kinsella (Laois)

Carlow last won a qualifier back in 2005 while Antrim have only managed one in their history when beating Leitrim in 2001. Carlow's win over Louth seems like a long time ago after their drubbing by Wicklow, but Luke Dempsey's men would be in with more than a fighting chance at home. However, Antrim's performance against Westmeath in the last round suggests the form lies with them.

Last championship clash: Have never met.

Odds: Antrim 1/7, Carlow 6/1, Draw 11/1.

Verdict: Antrim

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

London v Waterford, Ruislip,

6.30, S Doyle (Wexford)

The bookies got their fingers burned when they had London at 2/1 to overcome an inexperienced Fermanagh side last time out and the question now is whether London can handle the favourite's tag. Paul Coggins' Exiles have never put back-to-back championship wins together, while Waterford struggled with life in Division 3 and are still looking for a first qualifier win. London's fairytale could go on for one more week.

Last championship clash: Have never met

Odds: London 4/6, Waterford 11/8, Draw 8/1.

Verdict: London

Waterford -- K Cotter; M O'Gorman, T O'Gorman, E Walsh; T Grey, K Connery, W Hennessy; M Ahearne, G Hurney; C O'Keeffe, S Fleming, P Whyte; B Wall, B Phelan, P Hurney.

Limerick v Offaly, Gaelic Grounds,

2.0, M Condon (Waterford)

After their surprisingly easy win over Monaghan, Offaly are the form team here. The evergreen Ciaran McManus was at the heart of their success that day as they bounced back from a dismal showing against Wexford. Limerick were relegated from Division 3 and couldn't lay a glove on Kerry in Munster, so they'll need to buck the form book to win here.

Last championship clash: Limerick 3-9 Offaly 2-7 (2002 Round 2 qualifier).

Odds: Limerick 5/4, Offaly 4/5, Draw 15/2.

Verdict: Offaly

Offaly -- A Mulhall; B Darby, J Quinn, S Pender; S Lonergan, R Brady, K Slattery; R Dalton, N Smith; C McManus, S Brady, N Darby; B Allen, J Coughlan, N Mc Namee.

All-Ireland SHC

Qualifiers phase 3

(Extra-time if necessary)

Cork v Galway, Gaelic Grounds,

4.0, J McGrath (Antrim)

This has the makings of an epic, with a quarter-final slot and the future of both managers at stake. Ronan Curran's return to centre-back should tighten a Cork defence that worryingly conceded 2-16 to Offaly, but Pa Cronin's suspension weakens them in midfield. Galway field an unchanged team for the first time this year after beating Clare but they conceded 20 points that day and will find Cork a lot smarter and tighter defensively.

Galway have more potent forwards, but expect Cork to spring schoolboy Conor Lehane too good effect.

This could go down to pure hunger in the end and, if so, Galway get the vote.

Last championship clash: Galway 1-19 Cork 0-15 (2009 qualifiers).

Odds: Galway 5/6, Cork 11/10, Draw 10/1.

Verdict: Galway

CORK -- D Og Cusack; S McDonnell, E Cadogan, B Murphy; J Gardiner, R Curran, S O'Neill; J O'Connor, W Egan; B O'Connor, C McCarthy, N McCarthy; L O'Farrell, P O'Sullivan, P Horgan.

GALWAY -- J Skehill; F Moore, S Kavanagh, D Collins; D Barry, T Og Regan, A Cullinane; D Burke, A Smith; J Gantley, G Farragher, I Tannian; D Hayes, J Canning, A Kerins.

Antrim v Limerick, Parnell Park,

7.0, J Owens (Wexford)

When they met in the league Kevin Downes scored three goals, but Limerick face a tougher prospect now from the big, powerful side who dumped Dublin out last year and have a real star in Neil McManus.

Antrim come off a five-game run and won Ulster again last week with virtually a 'B' team. With Ollie Baker helping Dinny Cahill, they'll have their homework done and will bring a lot more power than Wexford. Limerick are considerably weakened by Graeme Mulcahy's injury, but their new doggedness under Donal O'Grady should help them nick it.

Last championship clash: Limerick 4-25 Antrim 1-9 (2005 qualifiers).

Odds: Limerick 1/20, Antrim 9/1, Draw 22/1.

Verdict: Limerick.

Limerick -- N Quaid; D Moloney, S Hickey, T Condon; W McNamara, B Geary, G O'Mahoney; D O'Grady, M O'Riordan; N Moran, J Ryan, D Hannon; R McCarthy, K Downes, S Tobin.


Leinster SFC final

Dublin v Wexford, Croke Park 2.0,

J McQuillan (Cavan). *Live RTE 2

You're into a major final off an average score of 2-19 over three games; your average concession rate was 0-11; you scored four goals in the semi-final, yet you find yourself as 11/2 outsiders to win the final. Confused? Wexford won't be considering the statistical background to their latest attempt to end a 66-year wait for the county's 11th Leinster title, instead they will try to seize the great opportunity which has opened up for them.

The big question mark about tomorrow's game arises from the uncertainty over how competitive Wexford's side of the draw was. All five contenders (Wexford, Carlow, Westmeath, Louth and Offaly) were in Divisions 3 and 4 last spring whereas four from the other side (Dublin, Laois, Kildare, Meath) were in the top two divisions.

Dublin came within a point of Cork in the Division 1 final, while Laois were promoted to the top flight, so all the evidence suggests a considerable gap.

Still, Wexford have stocked up heavily on self-belief over the last few months and will also be encouraged by last year's experience where they led Dublin by seven points in the Leinster quarter-final before being reeled in and beaten in extra-time. Wexford head for Croke Park with a highly-rated forward line which blitzed Offaly, Westmeath and Carlow defences, but then Dublin also have attackers who can pick rival pockets quite regularly at any level.

Wexford have yet to concede a goal in the championship, although Offaly had at least four good chances, but they will now face a far more potent strike force than anything they have experienced so far. One big plus for Wexford is that manager Jason Ryan and nine of the squad have experience of their last Leinster final adventure against Dublin three years ago.

Granted, it ended in a 23-point defeat, but will have provided a valuable insight into what's required to survive when the temperature is at its highest. However, Gilroy appears to have most of the aces, not just in his starting 15, but also among the back-up troops. It all points to Dublin winning Leinster for the sixth time in seven seasons.

2011 championship: Dublin 1-16 Laois 0-11; Dublin 1-12 Kildare 1-11; Wexford 2-16 Offaly 0-8; Wexford 1-24 Westmeath 0-15; Wexford 4-12 Carlow 0-10.

Last championship clash: Dublin 2-16 Wexford 0-15: after extra-time (2010 Leinster quarter-final)

Odds: Dublin 1/6; Wexford 11/2; Draw 12/1.

Verdict: Dublin

Next: Winners qualify for All-Ireland quarter-finals on July 30/31/Aug 1; losers to play in Round 4 qualifiers on July 23/24

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

DUBLIN -- S Cluxton; M Fitzsimons, Rory O'Carroll, P Conlon; J McCarthy, G Brennan, K Nolan; D Bastick, E Fennell; P Flynn, A Brogan, B Cullen (capt); E O'Gara, D Connolly, B Brogan.

Munster SHC final

Tipperary v Waterford, Pairc Ui Chaoimh, 4.0, B Gavin (Offaly), *Live RTE 2

Amid all the predictions that the hurling championship is heading for a third successive summit between Kilkenny, who never seem to miss Croke Park in early September, and Tipperary, who have been there for the last two years, it's easy to forget that Waterford have been a consistent No 3 for quite some time now.

Indeed, in some other eras they would almost certainly have won at least one All-Ireland title, but with the 'Big Two' setting such a relentless pace, they haven't been quite able to keep up in the sprint finishes. However, they have been ahead of Cork, Galway and other pursuers and now find themselves bidding to retain the Munster title for the first time in their history.

Davy Fitzgerald has overseen a fundamental change in Waterford strategy, evolving them from a shoot-or-be-shot approach to a system where they are more adept at disguising their short-comings while not being quite as flamboyant when in full flow. Not everybody in Waterford appreciates the change, but the results support Fitzgerald's methods.

The competitive environment is so intense in Munster these days that the reigning provincial champions find themselves clashing with the reigning All-Ireland champions. Not only that, but Waterford are up against a Tipperary team whose average score in their last five championship games against Clare, Cork, Kilkenny, Waterford and Galway was 3-20.

Waterford averaged 2-16 in their last five games, a good return in its own right, but still seven points short of Tipperary. Waterford may close the gap tomorrow, but not enough to win.

2011 championship: Tipperary 3-22 Cork 0-23; Tipperary 4-19 Clare 1-19; Waterford 3-15 Limerick 3-14.

Last championship clash: Tipperary 3-19 Waterford 1-18 (2010 All-Ireland semi final)

Odds: Tipperary 1/5; Waterford 4/1;

Draw 14/1.

Verdict: Tipperary

Next: Winners qualify for All-Ireland semi-final on August 14; losers qualify for quarter-finals on July 24.

TIPPERARY -- B Cummins; P Stapleton, P Curran, M Cahill; J O'Keeffe, C O'Mahony, Padraic Maher; G Ryan, S McGrath; S Callanan, N McGrath, Patrick Maher; E Kelly, J O'Brien, L Corbett.

Waterford -- C Hennessy; D Fives, J Maher, N Connors; T Browne, M Walsh, K Moran; S Molumphy, R Foley; E McGrath, S O'Sullivan, P Mahony; J Mullane, S Walsh, B O'Sullivan.

Leinster MFC final

Dublin v Meath, Croke Park, 12.0,

F Kelly (Longford)

After an opening-round defeat to Louth, Meath rebuilt their season and booked their place in the final with a win over the Wee men last time out. A couple of famous names (Harnan and McEntee) make up the Meath midfield, but Dessie Farrell has been moulding this Dublin team for some time and in dual star Ciaran Kilkenny, they boast one of the capital's most talked about talents for years.

Odds: Dublin 2/9, Meath 4/1, Draw 9/1.

Verdict: Dublin.

MEATH -- R Burlingham; A Forde, C McGill, O Fitzpatrick; C Finn, S Melia, D Smith; P Harnan, S McEntee; N Shorthall, B O'Brien, C O Sullivan; B McMahon, R Farrelly, W McGrath.

Munster MHC final

Clare v Waterford, Pairc Ui Chaoimh,

2.0, J O'Connell (Cork)

A repeat of last year's final where Clare came out on top, having lost to the Deise in the opening round. On paper there is very little to choose between the sides as both beat Tipperary by six points. Jake Dillon has been doing the bulk of the scoring for Waterford from placed balls and being taken to extra-time by Limerick in the semi-final could stand to them.

Odds: Clare 1/2, Waterford 15/8, Draw 9/1.

Verdict: Waterford

WATERFORD -- P Cooke; J Barron, D Ahern, C Walsh; S O'Neill, D Foley, R Barry; S McNulty, G O'Brien; C Dunford, J Dillon, D Flynn; A O'Sullivan, S Bennett, C Chester



All-Ireland SC Round 5

Kilkenny v Clare, Nowlan Park, 2.0,

K O'Brien (Dublin)

With a semi-final berth in the Cats' sights, Ann Downey is expected to name a full-strength side for their clash with Clare at Nowlan Park. Clare will be relying on the scoring prowess of Chloe Morey, Deirdre Murphy and Claire McMahon. Kilkenny, in front of a home crowd, should be too strong.

Verdict: Kilkenny.

Wexford v Tipperary, Donaghmore-Ashbourne, 3.30, E MacSuibhne (Dublin)

A must-win game for Tipperary if they are to stay in contention for a semi-final spot. Once again, Clare Grogan, Cora Hennessy and Jill Horan will be called upon to lead the side. Sarah Fryday is expected to return, having missed last week's tie. Wexford's forwards have found their scoring range with Parrock, Leacy and Jacob all coming into good form. Verdict: Wexford.

Offaly v Cork, St Brendan's Park, Birr,

1.0, O Elliott (Antrim)

Offaly entertain a free-scoring Cork side who hit 4-17 against Dublin in round four of the championship. Joachim Kelly will be hoping that his young charges can pick themselves up after their defeat to Galway and home advantage for the 2010 Intermediate champions will prove beneficial this weekend.

Verdict: Cork.

Dublin v Galway, Naomh Mearnog,

12.0, C Egan (Cork)

The Sky Blues entertain a Galway side who are high on confidence, bouncing back from their Round 3 defeat to Cork. Denis Murphy's charges enjoy home advantage and stalwarts such as Louise O'Hara and Caitriona Power will be relied upon to lead a young Dublin side. Noel Finn is expected to make some changes to the Galway side.

Verdict: Galway.

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