Sunday 17 December 2017



Munster club IHC final

(Extra-time if necessary)

Ballyduff (Kerry) v Silvermines (Tipperary), Thurles, 2.0

Ballyduff beat Limerick's Ballybrown in extra-time to reach their second final in a row. Silvermines have beaten the Clare and Waterford champions en route to the decider but, after losing last year's final, Ballyduff will want this one badly and could pull off a surprise.

Verdict: Ballyduff.

Odds: Silvermines 10/11, Ballyduff evens, Draw 8/1

Munster club JFC semi-final

(Extra-time if necessary)

Clarecastle (Clare) v Cappamore (Limerick), Cappamore, 2.0

Verdict: Cappamore.


Connacht Club SFC final

(Extra-time if necessary)

St Brigid's (Roscommon) v Ballaghaderreen (Mayo), Castlebar, 2.0

* TG4 deferred

This has been jokingly referred to as an 'all-Roscommon' final due to Ballaghaderreen's complex GAA identity and they face a Kiltoom team bidding to win a Connacht three in-a-row, something that only Clann na nGael have ever bettered.

Brigid's are contesting their sixth provincial final in eight years. Such a run can often lead to complacency, but new manager Kevin McStay has staved off any risk of that and they made easy work of the Leitrim and Galway champions.

Yet Ballaghaderreen, managed by Mark Dowd, will have noted that the defending champions haven't taken too many Mayo scalps during those runs.

Ballaghaderreen defied the loss of Andy Moran and two other key men to win their first Mayo title since 2006. They have a good balance to their team and work extremely hard for each other. Barry Kelly, Barry Regan, James Kilcullen and Keith Rodgers helped them beat Curry by eight points, but Brigid's could prove a step too far.

Verdict: St Brigid's

Odds: St Brigid's 2/5, Ballaghaderreen 5/2, Draw 15/2

Leinster Club SFC semi-finals

(Extra-time if necessary)

Portlaoise (Laois) v Emmet Og Killoe (Longford), Portlaoise, C Reilly, 2.0

The seven-time Leinster champions come up against the Longford champions – a county that's never even had a team in the final; this looks like a no-brainer, but it's not.

Killoe, led by former AFL recruit Michael Quinn and the McCormack brothers Sean and Padraig, have been the surprise package of this year's campaign, winning their county title after a 17-year wait and then seeing off St Anne's (Wexford) and Navan O'Mahonys (Meath).

Portlaoise, who last won Leinster two years ago, gave a supreme display when romping past the Wicklow champions St Patrick's, but they'd surely have preferred a tougher challenge in that game.

In Cahir Healy, Conor Boyle, Kieran Lillis, midfielders Adrian Kelly and Hugh Coghlan (a Tipp senior), and a forward line that includes Craig Rogers, Paul Cahillane and Bruno McCormack, Portlaoise have massive experience and play a pacey Donegal-style counter-attacking brand of football.

If Killoe beat them it would be the giant-killing result of the year but, especially in O'Moore Park, that's unlikely.

Verdict: Portlaoise.

Odds: Portlaoise 1/5, Emmet Og 9/2, Draw 9/1

Sarsfields (Kildare) v Ballymun Kickhams (Dublin), Newbridge, E Kinsella 2.0

A lot of attention has surrounded Ballymun, kings of Dublin in the 1980s who have resurrected themselves with a young team led by Philly McMahon, James McCarthy, Dean Rock and Ted Furman.

Not only did they beat Kilmacud to win their first Dublin title in 27 years but they romped past Mullingar Shamrocks, who had already knocked out Leinster's defending champions Garrycastle.

Sarsfields, who are county kingpins again after a seven-year wait, have home advantage and the way John Crofton's side – led by Padraig Brennan, Gary White, Alan Smith and Ray Cahill – dealt with the physicality of St Patrick's of Louth (who had beaten Rhode) was impressive.

They face a much different prospect here. Paul Curran's team has a decent spread of All-Ireland senior and U-21 winners and are likely to have too much class.

Verdict: Ballymun Kickhams

Odds: Ballymun 4/9, Sarsfields 9/4, Draw 15/2.

Leinster club JFC Final

(Extra-time if necessary)

Castleknock (Dublin) v St Fintan's (Wexford), Parnell Park, J Hickey, 2.0

Castleknock have racked up some big scores in beating the Carlow, Wicklow and Meath champions, but they've lost Ciaran Kilkenny while St Fintan's, led by Joe Wadding, went to Kildare last time out and shocked Clogherinkoe.

Verdict: St Fintan's

Leinster Club SHC semi-final

(Extra-time if necessary)

Oulart-The Ballagh (Wexford) v Ballyhale Shamrocks (Kilkenny), B Kelly, Wexford Park, 2.0

Michael Fennelly only returned from a charity mission to South Africa earlier this week while Oulart's Laurence Prendergast faces a late fitness on an ankle injury.

Even without the injured TJ Reid, Ballyhale can call on Henry Shefflin, Colin and Michael Fennelly and James 'Cha' Fitzpatrick, while Oulart feature Rory Jacob, Keith Rossiter, Darren Stamp and Nicky Kirwan. This is a big grudge match for Oulart, who have lost the last two Leinster finals and were beaten by Ballyhale in extra-time in the 2009 quarter-final.

But you can't escape the feeling that the Kilkenny men, ousted from the local pedestal in the last two years, are also on a mission and it's difficult to bet against any team that contains King Henry these days.

Verdict: Ballyhale Shamrocks

Odds: Ballyhale 2/5, Oulart 9/4, Draw 10/1

Leinster club IHC semi-final

(Extra-time if necessary)

Oliver Plunketts Eoghan Ruadh (Dublin) v Clara (Kilkenny), Blakestown, A Stapleton, 2.0 Verdict: Clara

Leinster Special JHc club final

(Extra-time if necessary)

Knockbridge (Louth) v Clanna Gael Fontenoy (Dublin), Darver, J Heffernan, 2.0 Verdict: Clanna Gael Fontenoy

Munster Club SHC final

(Extra-time if necessary)

Thurles Sarsfields (Tipperary) v De La Salle (Waterford), Pairc Ui Chaoimh, 2.0

* Live, TG4

A mouthwatering Tipp v Waterford hurling derby here with many of the players who met at this stage in 2010, when De La Salle won by a point, still present.

Yet despite having a 100pc record in the competition and featuring current All Stars John Mullane and Kevin Moran, it's not the Waterford city crew but Thurles who are favourites after racking up 4-32 in beating Kilmallock and Sarsfields of Cork.

There's a feeling that Thurles' younger players have gained a lot of experience since 2010 and Pa Bourke, Padraic Maher, Michael Cahill and Lar Corbett look like men on a mission, with Michael O'Brien and Aidan McCormack also vital to their cause. Midfield, where Thurles' Johnny Enright and Michael Gleeson face Dean Twomey and Eddie Barrett, will be vital and both sides have brilliant half-back lines.

De La Salle shot 13 wides when they nicked past Newmarket-on-Fergus with a stoppage-time goal and the expectation is that Thurles will have the superior firepower.

Verdict: Thurles Sarsfields

Odds: Thurles 4/7, De La Salle 13/8, Draw 9/1

Munster club IFC final

(Extra-time if necessary)

Finuge (Kerry) v St Vincent's (Cork), Mallow, 2.0

Finuge are without their two star men – Kerry boss Eamonn Fitzmaurice is injured and Paul Galvin is suspended after his red card against Pallasgreen – but they feel aggrieved by the latter and will use that as additional motivation.

Verdict: Finuge

Odds: St Vincent's 2/3, Finuge 3/2, Draw 13/2

Munster club JFC quarter-final

(Extra-time if necessary)

Kilmacthomas (Waterford) v Kenmare (Kerry), Kilmacthomas, 2.0

Verdict: Kenmare

Cliona Foley

Irish Independent

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