Wednesday 22 November 2017



Second TEST

Scotland v Ireland, Inverness, 2.0.

*Live TG4

Tipp's Eoin Kelly, captain Michael Rice, Eoin Nolan of Carlow and Laois' Willie Hyland starred in last weeks' 1-16 to 2-8 victory, but Ireland conceded two late goals to only carry a five-point advantage into this week's away Test. Kelly's injury loss this week could be costly, but Offaly's Rory Hanniffy, Craig Doyle (Carlow) and Paul Dermody (Kildare) have all been called up as replacements.

Verdict: Ireland.

U-21 International

Scotland v Ireland, Inverness,12.0. Verdict: Ireland.


AIB Munster Club SHC Q/F

Drom & Inch (Tipperary) v Ballygunner (Waterford), Semple Stadium, 2.0.

After their historic victory over Clonoulty-Rossmore, Tipperary's new champions, led by Seamus Callanan, James Woodlock and the Butler boys, take a step into the unknown on their Munster debut.

Facing them is a Ballygunner team brimming with young talent (including the Mahony and O'Sullivan brothers) who are still in the running for a third Waterford U--21 title in a row.

Statisticians have noted that Waterford teams, led by De La Salle, have a far superior record in Munster recently to Tipp ones. Since 2008, Decies clubs have won five of their last six Munster championship games compared to just one out of four for Tipperary sides.

Odds: Drom & Inch 8/11, Ballygunner 11/8, Draw 8/1.

Verdict: Ballygunner

Ulster Club SFC Q/Fs

Dromore (Tyrone) v Ballinderry (Derry), Omagh, 2.30.

Dromore nicked past Clonoe last week to win their third county title in five years and have a host of big names in 'Ricey' McMenamin, Cathal McCarron, Colm McCullagh, Ronan McNabb, Eoin McCusker and rising talent Niall Sludden.

Having contested four Derry finals since 2006 and won three, Ballinderry need no introduction either. They feature Enda Muldoon, Niall McCusker, Kevin McGuckin and Raymond Wilkinson.Their defence includes Michael McIvor, whose brother Paul manages Dromore.

Odds: Ballinderry 5/6, Dromore 11/8, Draw 6/1.

Verdict: Ballinderry

St Gall's (Antrim) v Crossmaglen Rangers (Armagh), Casement Park, 2.30.

What a pity that this clash of the Ulster titans, the winners of the last two All-Ireland series, has to happen in the first round. This time last year Cross welcomed reigning champions St Gall's with a guard of honour and then promptly beat them out the gate before going on to win their fifth national title. This time they've got to travel to Casement, but, having conceded just 0-3 while scoring 2-22 in the Armagh final, it's hard to see them being beaten.

Odds: Crossmaglen 8/11, St Galls 13/8, Draw 6/1.

Verdict: Crossmaglen

Galway SFC Final

Corofin v Tuam Stars,

Tuam Stadium, 3.0.

Corofin, featuring Kieran Fitzgerald, Damien Burke, et al are chasing their third title from four consecutive finals and will be looking to atone after losing the three in-a-row to Killererin last year. Tuam, despite their 25 titles, haven't been here since 1995. They include county senior Gary O'Donnell and Conor Doherty, Aonghus Tierney and Noel Henry of this year's All-Ireland winning U-21s, whose backroom team included their manager Alan Flynn.

Tuam are battle-hardened after replays in their quarter and semi-finals. Corofin have been lying idle for five weeks since beating Milltown and have lost midfielder Michael Farragher to suspension, but last year's final defeat should be their spur.

Odds: Corofin 8/15, Tuam 2/1, Draw 13/2.

Verdict: Corofin

Kerry SFC Final

Mid-Kerry v Dr Crokes, Killarney, 3.0. *Live TG4

County stars Colm Cooper, Eoin Brosnan and Kieran O'Leary have led defending champions 'Crokes back to the final.

Facing them are the divisional side led by Darran O'Sullivan, Donnacha Walsh and Sean O'Sullivan and the opposing sides actually include three players -- Daithi Casey and Johnny Buckley of Crokes and Gavan O'Grady (Mid) -- who are already guaranteed Munster club action after winning the Cork title together on the UCC team.

Crokes have lost some key men this season through retirement and emigration and haven't yet hit top form, but playing, literally 'across the road' should be worth something. If this one's a draw, the replay is next Friday night to ensure Kerry produce a winner to play Waterford's Ballinacourty two days later.

Odds: Dr Crokes 5/6, Mid-Kerry 5/4, Draw 13/2.

Verdict: Dr Crokes

Louth SFC final replay

Newtown Blues v St Patrick's, Dowdallshill, 2.30

John Kermode's last gasp miss from a free has handed St Patrick's a reprieve they are likely to take advantage of tomorrow at Dowdallshill. Paddy Keenan will again be central to their efforts and he will need his team-mates to step up to the scoring plate to assist him if they are to succeed.

Verdict: St Patrick's

Dublin SHC Final

Ballyboden St Endas v O'Toole's,

Parnell Park, 3.45. *TG4 (deferred)

It's hard to believe Ballyboden's first senior hurling title didn't come until 2007 considering the defending champions are now on a 'drive for five' and have managed it without the injured Conal Keaney and Stephen Hiney. Paul Ryan gave an absolute exhibition in their six-goal semi-final drubbing of Lucan and they are the team to beat.

O'Toole's, managed by Joey Morris, have a long tradition and are in their first final since 2002. The Cartons, the Flynns and Liam Ryan are all key men and they shocked everyone by knocking out Kilmacud in the quarter-finals and St Brigid's last time out.

Odds: Ballyboden, O'Toole's 10/3, Draw 11/1.

Verdict: Ballyboden

Kilkenny SHC Final Replay

Ballyhale Shamrocks v James Stephens, Nowlan Park, 2.45.

Kilkenny's minor and senior finals were both drawn last week, so it's a replay double-header tomorrow (and extra-time if needed). The Village, chasing a first title since 2005 in this re-match of the 2009 decider, looked to have it, but were furious at the amount of injury-time played before King Henry slotted a late, late equaliser to save Shamrocks' bacon.

Ballyhale certainly rode their luck, but hit eight wides in the terrible conditions and everyone is hoping that a better day will produce the expected fireworks this time. Ballyhale feature Shefflin, the Fennellys, the Reids and 'Cha' Fitzpatrick, while James Stephens include Jackie Tyrrell, the Larkins and McCormacks, Matt Ruth and David Walton.

Odds: Ballyhale 2/5, James Stephen's 9/4, Draw 13/2.

Verdict: Ballyhale Shamrocks.

Cliona Foley

Irish Independent

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