Tuesday 20 February 2018

Today All-Ireland SF Quarter-final

Dublin v Tyrone, Croke Park, 7.0, J McQuillan (Cavan) *Live RTE2

First, let's hook a red herring. For reasons totally unrelated to logic, it's being suggested that Dublin's four-week wait for the quarter-final leaves them vulnerable against a team that's playing for a third successive Saturday. There's no evidence whatsoever to support that theory, but, of course, if Dublin lose, it will be put forward as the reason.

Kerry were grumbling over their four-week wait for last Sunday's quarter-final, but they still disposed of Limerick quite comfortably.

Granted, Tyrone are a different proposition to Limerick, but that would be the case anyway, irrespective of when they played.

Dublin are well aware of that, but are in a positive frame of mind after winning nine, drawing one and losing one (League final to Cork) of 11 competitive games this year.

They also have the encouraging memory of their win over Tyrone in last year's quarter-final, a game where they showed resilience at a time when it looked as if Mickey Harte's dogged battlers would power on. Instead, it was Dublin who finished strongly, while Tyrone lost their way.

And when Tyrone failed to get out of Division 2 and lost to Donegal in the Ulster semi-final, there were suspicions that the Red Hand was weakening. But they dispelled that quite emphatically with progressive performances against Armagh and Roscommon, scoring an average of 2-18 per game.

That's a high return, but it's most unlikely they will reach such a high target against a Dublin defence that has conceded an average of 0-14 per game in the Leinster championship.

However, it's at the other end that the game is likely to be decided. Provided the Dublin attack share out scoring responsibility more evenly, rather than leaving most of it to the Brogans, they have the capacity to rack-up a sufficiently high score to book a place in the semi-final.

2011 championship: Dublin 1-16 Laois 0-11; Dublin 1-12 Kildare 1-11; Dublin 2-12 Wexford 1-12; Tyrone 1-13 Monaghan 1-11; Donegal 2-6 Tyrone 0-9; Tyrone 1-17 Longford 0-15; Tyrone 2-13 Armagh 0-13.

Last championship clash: Dublin 1-15 Tyrone 0-13 (2010 All-Ireland quarter-final)

Odds: Dublin 8/11; Tyrone 6/4; Draw 8/1.

Verdict: Dublin

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

Tyrone -- P McConnell; M Swift, Joe McMahon, Justin McMahon; S O'Neill, C Gormley, P Jordan; K Hughes, S Cavanagh; C Cavanagh, B McGuigan, P Harte, M Penrose, M Donnelly, O Mulligan.

All-Ireland JFC semi-finals

(extra-time if necessary)

Cork v Sligo, Croke Park, 5.0,

P Kneel (Louth)

Cork were more dominant in the Munster final against Kerry than their two-point winning margin suggests. Their U-21 star Kevin Hallissey was in good form in attack, while full-back Eoin O'Mahony is said to be on Conor Counihan's radar. They face reigning All-Ireland champions Sligo, who, due to competition rules, have fielded an entirely new side here. Vincent Frizzell was man of the match in the Connacht final, but they look up against it here.

Verdict: Cork

Kildare v Lancashire, Newbridge,

6.0, S Carroll (Westmeath)

Lancashire fell to Kerry at this stage last year and though Kildare have lost Mikey Conway, who was used by senior boss Kieran McGeeney on his return from injury, the Leinster side should still be too strong.

Verdict: Kildare

All-Ireland MhC 'B' q/fs

(Extra-time if necessary) Kerry v Meath, Tralee, 2.30, J O'Connell (Cork)

Verdict: Meath

Donegal v Roscommon, Ballyshannon, 3.0, E Shaughnessy (Galway)

Verdict: Roscommon

Carlow v Kildare, Dr Cullen Park, 3.0, P Casey (Waterford)

Verdict: Carlow

Tg4 Ladies sc rd 2 qualifiers

(Extra-time if necessary) Dublin v Galway, St Brendan's Park, Birr, 4.0, MJ O'Keeffe (Cork) *Live TG4

Dublin will be looking to keep their title defence on track here after annihilating Kildare in the opening round of the qualifiers. They lost by a point to Meath in the Leinster semi-final and will be looking to leave that defeat well and truly behind them here. Galway were beaten by a rejuvenated Mayo in the Connacht final and the Jackies look set to prevail with ease.

Verdict: Dublin

Donegal v Kerry, St Brendan's Park, Birr, 6.0, D McEnery (Westmeath) *Live TG4

Donegal have in-form duo Niamh Hegarty and Yvonne McMonagle up front for this encounter. But Kerry, who have the quality of Louise Ni Mhuircheartaigh among their ranks, should edge this close affair.

Verdict: Donegal

Meath v Sligo, Ballymahon, 2.0,

PJ Rabbitte (Galway)

The Royal girls will be looking to their inspirational captain Grainne Nulty to lead the way in this clash. Sligo have Noelle Gormley in fine scoring. But Meath should just have enough to overcome this hurdle.

Verdict: Meath

Tipperary v Tyrone, The Down's, Westmeath, 2.0, L McDonagh (Sligo)

Tipp have the players to cause Tyrone problems including Trisha Hickey, who notched up 1-8 against Clare last time. Tyrone will be hoping to bounce back from their Ulster final defeat and should progress without too much difficulty.

Verdict: Tyrone


All-Ireland SH semi-final

Kilkenny v Waterford, Croke Park, 3.30,

B Kelly (Westmeath) *Live RTE 2

Notice anything about Kilkenny's two championship games so far this year? They have scored the same total (1-26 against Wexford, 4-17 against Dublin) and conceded the same amount (1-15) against both.

That suggests that their strike lines are operating fluently, while the defence, despite suffering from some wobbles in the first half against Wexford, kept the concession rate down to a level which wins more game than it loses.

We know what to expect from Kilkenny, but Waterford are much more confusing. Lucky to beat Limerick before being demolished by Tipperary, their best performance of the year came against Galway, who were well fancied to beat them.

But Waterford hit them with an impressive combination of quick and slick, underpinned by a work ethic which was several notches above their opponents' anaemic effort. But Kilkenny will be altogether different.

Hard work has always been a cornerstone of their approach, so Waterford will find themselves with far less time on the ball than they enjoyed against Galway.

Waterford hit Kilkenny for three goals (Shane Walsh, again in impressive form, hit two) in the 2009 semi-final, but couldn't resist the scoring momentum generated by Henry Shefflin and Co at the other end.

The same could apply tomorrow. For while there was much to admire in the manner in which Waterford defended against Galway, they were up against a misfiring attack, where Joe Canning was the only consistent threat. Kilkenny can fire missiles from every quarter and will surely land enough to enable them to reach their 11th All-Ireland final in 13 seasons, leaving Waterford coping with yet another semi-final heartbreak.

2011 championship: Kilkenny 1-26 Wexford 1-15; Kilkenny 4-17 Dublin 1-15; Waterford 3-15 Limerick 3-14; Tipperary 7-19 Waterford 0-19; Waterford 2-23 Galway 2-13.

Last championship clash: Kilkenny 2-23 Waterford 3-15 (2009 All-Ireland semi-final)

Odds: Kilkenny 1/9; Waterford 13/2; Draw 18/1.

Verdict: Kilkenny

Kilkenny -- D Herity; P Murphy, N Hickey, J Tyrrell; T Walsh, B Hogan, JJ Delaney; M Fennelly, M Rice; TJ Reid, R Power, E Larkin; C Fennelly, H Shefflin, R Hogan.

Waterford -- C Hennessy; D Fives, L Lawlor, N Connors; T Browne, M Walsh, D O'Sullivan; K Moran, S O'Sullivan; S Prendergast, S Molumphy, P Mahony; J Mullane, S Walsh, E Kelly

All-Ireland MHC semi-final

Clare v Galway, Croke Park, 1.30, S Cleere (Kilkenny) *Live RTE2

This Clare side have been making all the right noises on the challenge-game circuit and while Galway manager Mattie Murphy is a master at getting his sides to come right at this time of year and they have 13 of last year's panel available again, Clare look to have built up a real head of steam. Cathal O'Connell shot the lights for the Banner with 10 points in the Munster final and they can justify favouritism here.

Odds: Clare 1/2 Galway 15/8 Draw 9/1

Verdict: Clare

Irish Independent

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