Thursday 23 November 2017

TODAY Christy Ring Cup (sh) final

(Extra-time if necessary)

Kerry v Wicklow, Croke Park, 2.0,

G Duffy (Antrim)

A repeat of last year's semi-final, from which Kerry came out on top.

Although Wicklow are unbeaten in the competition thus far and they won the Division 3A title while adding the talents of dual star Leighton Glynn to their panel, John Meyler's Kerry go into this game as clear favourites.

Don Hyland (38) is still key to the Garden men's plans, but Kerry's hard-fought one-point win away to Down was telling.

Odds: Kerry 1/3 Wicklow 5/2 Draw 11/1

Verdict: Kerry

Nicky Rackard Cup (sh) final

(Extra-time if necessary)

London v Louth, Croke Park, 4.0,

M Haverty (Galway)

This is expected to be the most one-sided game of the day in Croke Park, considering the Exiles had 25 points to spare when the teams met earlier in the competition.

Louth were impressive in beating Monaghan, with Diarmuid Murphy in good point-scoring form, but it will be a massive upset if they win this.

Odds: London 1/14 Louth 13/2 Draw 6/1

Verdict: London

Lory Meagher Cup (sh) final

(Extra-time if necessary)

Tyrone v Donegal, Croke Park, 12.0,

F Smith (Meath)

Tyrone have been consistent all season, topping Division 4, and their five-point winning margin away to Warwickshire was as close as anyone has got to them in this competition.

Donegal have also gone unbeaten, but Tyrone have momentum and form players like Rory O'Neill.

Odds: Donegal 4/7 Tyrone 6/4 Draw 10/1

Verdict: Tyrone

Munster JFC semi-final

(Extra-time if necessary)

Limerick v Kerry, Gaelic Grounds, 4.45,

K O'Brien (Tipperary)

Verdict: Kerry

Munster SFC semi-final

Limerick v Kerry, Gaelic Grounds, 6.45,

R Hickey (Clare). *Live on RTE 2

Limerick have come close against both Kerry and Cork in recent years, but haven't finished a task which is showing no signs of getting any easier.

Their latest bid to break free from under the Kingdom's mighty thumb has to be undertaken without John Galvin, one of the best midfielders of his generation, and Stephen Lucey, a double-hit of serious proportions.

For all that, Limerick will call on the uplifting memory of how they wiped out a seven-point deficit against Kerry in last year's Munster final in Killarney before being outgunned in the final minutes.

It wasn't the first time that Limerick had been undermined by insecurity at a crucial juncture against Kerry, but, at the same time, it proved once again how competitive they are on a good day.

They know that they have the power and resolve to match Kerry, leaving them chasing that added subtlety required to present their super-confident opponents with a new test.

If Limerick achieve that, they will keep the game alive for a long time, but ultimately it's difficult to envisage the defence curbing 'Gooch' and Co for the full 70 minutes.

Last C'ship Clash: Kerry 1-17 Limerick 1-14 (2010 Munster final)

Odds: Kerry 1/10 Limerick 13/2 Draw 14/1

Verdict: Kerry

Kerry -- B Kealy; S Enright, M O Se, T O'Sullivan; A O'Mahony, E Brosnan, K Young; A Maher, B Sheehan; Darran O'Sullivan, Declan O'Sullivan, D Walsh; C Cooper, K Donaghy, K O'Leary.

Limerick -- B Scanlon; S Lavin, S Gallagher, M O'Riordan; P Ranahan, J McCarthy, B Fitzpatrick; T Lee, J O'Donovan; S Buckley, J Kelly, S Kelly; G Collins, J Cooke, I Ryan.

Leinster SHC quarter-final

Westmeath v Galway, Mullingar,

7.30, A Stapleton (Laois)

The two wearers of the maroon clash in a game where there can be only one outcome.

Galway will win comfortably without learning a whole lot about whether they're ready for the bigger tests ahead.

Westmeath capitalised on defensive errors to beat Carlow, but are stepping up in class here under the guidance of their Galway-born manager, Brian Hanley.

It's an occasion to enjoy for Westmeath, who will do well to run Galway to 12 points.

Last C'ship clash: Galway 3-21 Westmeath 0-6 (2006 All-Ireland qualifiers)

Odds: Galway 1/500; Westmeath 28/1; Draw 40/1.

Verdict: Galway

Westmeath -- C Scally; C Flanagan, D McCormack, A McGrath; E Price, A Mitchell, P Gilsenan; N Flanagan, B Smyth; C Curley, P Greville, B Murtagh; J Shaw, D McNicholas, D Carty.

Galway -- J Skehill; D Joyce, D Collins, F Moore; J Coen, J Lee, A Cullinane; D Burke, K Hynes; D Daly, C Donnellan, A Smith; D Hayes, J Gantley, A Callanan.


Leinster SFC


Kildare v Meath, Croke Park, 2.0,

S Doyle (Wexford) *Live on RTE 2

The odds don't reflect the reality. The recent upheavals in Meath, coming after a poor league campaign where they were lucky to avoid relegation to Division 3, have inevitably raised questions about their well-being, but sometimes too much can be made of sideshows.

Kildare have had a more stable spring, although it didn't yield promotion to the top tier. They did, however, beat tomorrow's rivals in a league game that produced a 'meeting of minds' between managers Kieran McGeeney and Seamus McEnaney (pictured below) at the finish.

The Lilywhites were not overly impressive against Wicklow two weeks ago.

They won easily in the end, but did so by scoring just 12 points, four of which came in the last six minutes. Granted, they kicked 17 wides, underlining how many chances they created.

They hit Meath for 2-17 in last year's All-Ireland quarter-final, a concession rate which has led to a complete overhaul, with only Kevin Reilly and Gary O'Brien being retained in the Royals' starting line-up.

There's a doubt how effective the defence will be, but, at the other end, Meath have enough good attackers to really test Kildare's security arrangements.

Indeed, if the Meath defence maintain a reasonably tight grip on their opponents, there's every chance that Graham Reilly can lead his fellow forwards to rack up a match-winning total for Meath.

Last C'ship Clash: Kildare 2-17 Meath 1-12 (All-Ireland quarter-final)

Odds: Kildare 8/13 Meath 13/8 Draw 8/1

Verdict: Meath

Kildare -- S Connolly; A MacLochlainn, M Foley, H McGrillen; G White, B Flanagan, E Bolton; T O'Connor, H Lynch; M O'Flaherty; E O'Flaherty, E Callaghan; A Smith, J Doyle, J Kavanagh.

Meath -- B Murphy; G O'Brien, K Reilly, S McAnarney; S Kenny, B Menton, C Lenehan; N Crawford, B Meade; J Queeney, S O'Rourke, G Reilly; S Bray, J Sheridan, C Ward.

Dublin v Laois, Croke Park, 4.0,

J McQuillan (Cavan), *Live on TV3

Ten points was enough for Laois to beat Longford two weeks ago, a performance which left Justin McNulty conceding that unless they showed a huge improvement they would be no match for Dublin.

Laois will come on, not least because they have a game behind them, which is always an advantage.

Dublin are having their first outing and, as they discovered last year when coming so close to losing to Wexford, opening day can be very tricky.

Still, it would be a massive surprise if Dublin don't execute a safe lift-off.

Their consistency was most impressive throughout the league and while Laois did well too, they were in the less competitive Division 2.

Laois are strong around midfield where Colm Begley, Brendan Quigley and John O'Loughlin are well capable of taking on any challenge.

Laois are solid defensively, too, but don't look to have enough consistent score-getters to build up a total which Bernard Brogan and Co can't match at the other end.

Last C'ship clash: Dublin 3-14 Laois 1-14 (2007 Leinster final)

Odds: Dublin 1/5 Laois 9/2 Draw 40/1

Verdict: Dublin

Dublin -- S Cluxton; P McMahon, R O'Carroll, M Fitzsimons; J McCarthy, G Brennan, K Nolan; MD Macauley, B Cahill; P Flynn, K McManamon, B Cullen; A Brogan, D Connolly, B Brogan.

Laois -- E Culleton; C Healy, K Meaney, M Timmons; D Strong, S Julian, P O'Leary; C Begley, B Quigley; D Carroll, J O'Loughlin, N Donoher; R Munnelly, B Sheehan, MJ Tierney.

Ulster SFC


Tyrone v Monaghan, Omagh,

3.30, C Reilly (Meath)

Tyrone thought they would be heading into the championship with Division 1 status secured for next season, but a poor start to the Division 2 campaign left them with too much to do in the end.

It's fashionable to dismiss the league as being irrelevant in championship terms, but Mickey Harte has never taken Tyrone down that route. They were genuinely disappointed to miss out on promotion, although probably not as upset as Monaghan, who were relegated from Division 1 on the most spurious of technicalities (they had a better scoring difference than Armagh, but lost the head-to-head clash).

Monaghan have undergone several changes this year -- some caused by emigration -- and since their player pool is nowhere nearly as deep as Tyrone's, they are facing a massive test of character.

Despite being relegated, they played quite well at times during the league and with Eamonn McEneaney bringing his own style to bear on the squad, they won't be short of spirit or organisation.

However, they are well behind Tyrone (10 of whom played in the 2008 All-Ireland final) on experience and star quality which is likely to prove the difference in a game where Monaghan will do better than in last year's Ulster final, but still come up short.

Mind you, nobody will fancy being paired with them in the qualifiers.

Last C'ship Clash: Tyrone 1-14 Monaghan 0-7 (2010 Ulster final)

Odds: Tyrone 4/11 Monaghan 11/4 Draw 15/2

Verdict: Tyrone

Monaghan -- M Keogh; K Duffy, D Hughes, C Walshe; C Galligan, D Mone, O Duffy; O Lennon, D Clerkin; S Gollogly, M Downey, N McAdam; D McKenna, P Finlay, C McManus.

Tyrone -- P McConnell; M Swift, C McCarron, R McMenamin; D Harte, C Gormley, P Jordan; A Cassidy, S Cavanagh; B Dooher, B McGuigan, P Harte; M Penrose, S O'Neill, M Donnelly.

Munster SF semi-final

Cork v Waterford, Pairc Ui Chaoimh,

3.30, P Fox (Westmeath)

You've been relegated to Division 4, you're having your first championship game of the season, you're away from home and your opponents are the reigning All-Ireland champions.

Yes, and they have a championship game behind them, just to tune them up. Not exactly the draw Waterford would have wanted, but it's what they've got, so now all they can do is get on with it. The best they can aim for is to come close to maximum efficiency, see how close it takes them.

Last C'ship clash: Cork 2-18 Waterford 1-7 (2009 Munster quarter-final)

Odds: Cork 1/500; Waterford 28/1; Draw 40/1.

Verdict: Cork

Cork -- A Quirke; E Cotter, M Shields, E Cadogan; G Canty, J Miskella, P Kissane; A O'Connor, A Walsh; C Sheehan, P Kelly, F Lynch; D Goulding, D O'Connor, P Kerrigan.

WATERFORD -- K Cotter; M O'Gorman, T O'Gorman, K Connery; E Walsh, S Briggs, T Grey; M Ahern, B Phelan; B Wall, P Hurney, W Hennessy; G Hurney, S Fleming, T Prendergast.

Munster JFC semi-final

(Extra-time if necessary)

Cork v Waterford, Pairc Ui Chaoimh, 1.30, R Maloney (Limerick)

Verdict: Cork

Irish Independent

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