Saturday 24 March 2018

GAA Club Focus: weekend fixtures

Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

This weekend's fixtures


Munster Club IFC Final

St Joseph's, Miltown Malbay (Clare) v Clyda Rovers (Cork), Gaelic Grounds, 2.30, P O'Sullivan (Kerry)

Clyda, who feature recently retired Cork senior Paudie Kissane, Ray Carey and an excellent midfield, finally ended a losing sequence of finals in Cork and took out Ballyporeen last time out. Miltown, anchored by county star Gordon Kelly, Enda Malone and the Curtin brothers, beat the Limerick champions and took a big Kerry scalp (Currow) last week.

Betting: Clyda 10/11, St Joseph's 11/10, draw 13/2.

Verdict: Clyda Rovers.


Keel (Kerry) v Mount Sion (Waterford), Killarney, 2.30, K Murphy (Cork)

Verdict: Keel.


(All 2.0)


Na Piarsaigh (Limerick) v Sixmilebridge (Clare), Ennis, C Lyons (Cork) * Live TG4

Everything the Clare hurlers and footballers touch at the moment turns to gold – Sixmilebridge did it again last week when they shocked Midleton and then won the toss for venue here.

Na Piarsaigh boss Sean Stock, who won a fistful of Clare medals with the 'Bridge, finds himself in a tough spot against his native club, but surely no one will know them better? His side have reached a second Munster final in three years and with players like Kevin Downes, Shane Dowling (pictured above) and David Breen, are a serious outfit.

When Clare won their last two All-Irelands, their county champions (Sixmilebridge in '95) also won the Munster club titles, but Na Piarsaigh have beaten the Tipperary and Waterford champions to get here, have power and pace and are more battle-hardened at this level.

Betting: Sixmilebridge 10/11, Na Piarsaigh 11/10, Draw 8/1.

Verdict: Na Piarsaigh.


St Brigid's (Roscommon) v Castlebar Mitchels (Mayo), Dr Hyde Park, Marty Duffy (Sligo) * Deferred coverage TG4

Castlebar, managed by Pat Holmes, have lost the surprise factor after their shock defeat of Corofin.

Richie Feeney and Barry Moran are the big names up front, but a defence galvanised by Alan Feeney, Eoin O'Reilly and Tom Cunniffe (pictured below) is equally important.

They're back in the limelight after 20 years; in '93, they famously shocked Clann na nGael in a Connacht final, but this time they're facing the reigning All-Ireland champions, who are chasing their fourth provincial crown in a row.

Brigid's big names need no introduction and are still doing the heavy lifting, but new boss Benny O'Brien has blooded a couple of new players and they cruised past the Sligo and Leitrim champions.

The midfield battle between Mitchels' Moran and Aidan Walsh and Brigid's Karol Mannion and Ian Kilbride should be worth the admission alone, and don't be surprised if this goes to extra-time.

Betting: St Brigid's 4/7, Castlebar 15/8, Draw 7/1.

Verdict: St Brigid's.


Portlaoise (Laois) v Moorefield (Kildare), Portlaoise, D Coldrick (Meath)

A big rematch of a pairing who had a terrific tussle three years ago.

Moorefield, who won their only Leinster title in 2006, only conceded 0-4 in their semi-final defeat of the Wexford champions, while Portlaoise had to come back from eight down to beat Longford Slashers in extra-time last week.

A year after losing to Ballymun in the Leinster final, Laois' record seven-time Leinster champions have a point to prove, but, to do so, their defence is going to have to tighten up radically.

Betting: Portlaoise 10/11, Moorefield 6/5, draw 13/2.

Verdict: Portlaoise.

St Vincent's (Dublin) v Summerhill (Meath), Parnell Park, E Kinsella (Laois)

Only three Meath teams have reached the Leinster club final in the past 20 years (Skryne 2004-05, Dunshaughlin 2002-03, Seneschalstown 1994-95), and only one of them, Dunshaughlin, has won it.

By comparison, Dublin teams have won out nine times over the same period, with six of these coming in the past decade.

Summerhill have won two of the last three Meath titles. They are managed by Declan McCabe, brother of Cavan All Star Dermot.

Their best-known players are Conor Gillespie and Caolan Young (pictured). Davy Dalton is just back from injury and David Larkin is one to watch for the future.

Having survived a tough Dublin championship, Vincent's have been badly hit by the suspensions of Diarmuid Connolly and Ger Brennan. However, Summerhill struggled to put away the Louth champions, they have to travel to Parnell Park and the suspensions will surely only galvanise the Vins.

Betting: Vincent's 1/5, Summerhill 5/1, Draw 11/1.

Verdict: St Vincent's.


Buffers Alley (Wexford) v The Rower- Inistioge (Kilkenny), Enniscorthy,

A Stapleton (Laois)

The Rower-Inistioge, led by Kieran and Conor Joyce and Michael Grace, had a testing tussle with Celbridge, but will have it even harder here on away turf. Buffers Alley, who, after getting relegated last year, came straight back up, held off Trim and feature Ciaran Kenny, Willie Doran and freetaking ace Keith Burke.

Betting: Rower-Inistoige 10/11, Buffers Alley evens, draw 9/1.

Verdict: Buffers Alley.


Castleknock (Dublin) v Mountmellick (Laois), Castleknock, K Brady (Louth).Verdict: Castleknock.

Munster Club JHC semi-final

Ballysaggart (Waterford) v Knockshegowna (Tipperary), Dungarvan, D O'Driscoll (Limerick)

Verdict: Ballysaggart.


Coolmeen (Clare) v Feohanagh/ Castlemahon (Limerick), Coolyroe,

S Mulvihill (Kerry)

Verdict: Feohanagh/Castlemahon.

Irish Independent

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