Thursday 22 February 2018

Weekend's Previews

TODAY: Allianz hl Div 2 Final



Clare v Limerick, 6.30, Ennis, J McGrath (Westmeath). * Live TG4 (4.30)

Limerick's fractured past is clearly behind them under Donal O'Grady's understated leadership and they've cruised to this juncture with an unfussy unbeaten run.

Clare lost badly to them in the opening round (2-9 to 0-6) in Ennis when the Banner managed just one point from play in a display Ger O'Loughlin described as 'diabolical'.

Clare had a speed wobble too against Laois (lost by three), but they racked up 18 goals and 86 points in their last four games against Down, Kerry, Laois and Carlow and are motoring nicely.

Limerick's Paul Browne and Donal O'Grady bossed their last meeting, so midfield will be vital today.

Richie McCarthy's 1-5 that day included a penalty and four frees and with Andrew O'Shaughnessy now gone, Limerick will also have to find more scores from play.

Unlike their February meeting, ruined by a downpour, this will be a lot tighter. Clare don't want to lose a second Division 2 final in a row and O'Grady reckons home advantage always swings the big 50-50 decisions in hurling, but Limerick are on a mission of their own.

2011 NFL: Limerick 2-9 Clare 0-6.

Betting: Limerick 8.11, Clare 5/4, Draw 10/1.

Verdict: Limerick

Clare -- TBC.

Limerick -- N Quaid; D Reale, G O'Mahoney, T Condon; W McNamara, S Hickey, D Breen; D O'Grady, P Browne; D Hannon, R McCarthy, J Ryan; S Tobin, K Downes, G Mulcahy.

Christy Ring Cup

(Extra-time if necessary)

Round 2A

Wicklow v Derry, 2.30, Aughrim, S Whelan (Wexford)

Wicklow beat the same opposition in the Division 3A final and took Mayo's scalp last week and Derry will be without their influential midfielder Kevin Hinphey (suspended).

Verdict: Wicklow

Kerry v Meath, 2.30, Tralee,

C Lyons (Cork)

Meath, led by Peter Durnin, beat Armagh last week as Division 2 survivors Kerry, with Darragh O'Connell and Shane Nolan to the fore, beat Kildare in Newbridge.

Verdict: Kerry

Round 2B

Mayo v Kildare, 2.30, Castlebar,

J O'Mahony (Limerick)

Under new manager Willie Sunderland Kildare lost narrowly to Kerry last week and with Keith Higgins tearing his hamstring last week, it's a big loss to Mayo.

Verdict: Kildare.

Down v Armagh, 2.30, Ballycran,

R Mathews (Antrim)

Down were surprisingly beaten by Derry in Ballycran last week and as a Division 2 side won't want to lose to a Division 3 side, albeit the beaten 3A finalists, for the second week in a row.

Verdict: Down

Nicky Rackard Cup

(Extra-time if necessary)

Round 2

Louth v London, Dundalk, 5.0, P Murphy (Carlow)

Verdict: Louth

Fingal v Monaghan, Swords, 2.30, S Cleere (Kilkenny)

Verdict: Fingal

Lory Meagher Cup

(Extra-time if necessary)

Round 2A

Donegal v Fermanagh, Letterkenny, 2.30, E Hassan (Derry)

Verdict: Donegal

Tyrone v South Down, Omagh, 2.30, D Hughes (Carlow)

Verdict: Tyrone

Round 2B

Leitrim v Warwickshire, Carrick-on-Shannon, 2.0, M O'Connor (Limerick).

Verdict: Warwickshire

Munster MHC

semi-final play-off

(Extra-time if necessary)

Kerry v Cork, Pairc Ui Chaoimh, 6.30, S Hourigan (Limerick).

Verdict: Cork

LADIES FOOTBALL

NFL Division 4 Final

Westmeath v Roscommon,

Cusack Park (Clare), 4.35

Westmeath are competing for their first ever National League title having reached the final unbeaten, while Roscommon are looking to add to the Division 3 title they won in 2009, with only one loss to their name this year -- by five points, to the Lake County.

The Rossies have been very consistent all year under the guidance of Benny Morris. They are still without Feena Byrne and Niamh Ward, who are both out with long- term injuries, but will be looking to Natalie McHugh to once again pull the strings from the '40', while a goal or two from Cliodhna McHugh would do their chances no harm.

For Westmeath, Triona Durkan picked up a knock in training, but is still selected at full-back, while up front captain Elaine Finn, Ruth Kearney and Karen Hegarty have been in superb form and much will hinge on them.

Verdict: Westmeath

ROSCOMMON -- B Menton; M Keenehan, A Egan, C Kelly; L Sharkey (capt), M Walsh, L Tully; M Candon, S Cooney; C Grehan, N McHugh, S Ryan; J Downey, S Finnerty, C McHugh.

WESTMEATH -- G Leahy; A Martin, T Durkan, C Finch; A Brady, J Rodgers, K Boyce; M-A Foley, R Kearney; L Walsh, E Morris, E Finn (capt); K Hegarty, F Claffey, K Summers.

tomorrow

Connacht SFC

ROUND 1

New York v Roscommon, Gaelic Park, 8.0 (Irish time), P McEnaney (Monaghan)

Galway needed a stoppage-time goal from substitute Cormac Bane to survive the trip (2-13 to 0-12) last year when the Exiles lost two men and had a shot off the woodwork.

Managed by Donegal man Seamus Sweeney, they've got key men in Dan Doona, Johnny Murtagh, Alan Raferty and Brendan McGourty and, with emigration on the rise, are expected to be even stronger this year.

But Roscommon's disastrous performance in last weekend's Division 4 final may have been a blessing in disguise -- it surely erased all traces of complacency.

Last Meeting: Roscommon 1-14 New York 0-9 (2006 Connacht SFC).

Betting: Roscommon 1/50, New York 10/1, Draw 16/1.

Verdict: Roscommon

All-Ireland U-21 Fc final

Cavan v Galway, Croke Park, 2.0

Both managers have been able to name full-strength, unchanged teams from their semi-final victories for what seems certain to be the best-attended U-21 decider in some time, WRITES DONNCHADH BOYLE.

Galway took out a fancied Cork in the All- Ireland semi, just a couple of weeks after they routed Kerry in the Munster final. But Cavan showed they were no flash in the pan when beating All-Ireland minor champions of three years ago, Tyrone, in the Ulster final.

Some of the main protagonists operate in midfield. Gearoid McKiernan has caught the eye there for the Breffni men, while, for Galway, last year's midfield minor pairing of Tomas Flynn and Fintan Curran has also impressed. The injury to Cork's Young Player of the Year Aidan Walsh undoubtedly helped them in the semi-final, but even in his outing it was still an impressive outing.

Alan O'Mara has pulled off a few key saves in goal for Cavan, while Barry Reilly has been chipping in regularly with scores.

They'll have a huge crowd to roar them on, but it's difficult to look past Galway's win over Cork. Michael Boyle got the decisive late goal that day and they can edge it, but may need to dig deep.

Odds: Cavan 7/4, Galway 8/13, Draw 6/1.

Verdict: Galway

Cliona Foley

Irish Independent

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