Wednesday 25 April 2018

weekend gaa previews


Bord Gais Energy

All-Ireland U-21 HC final

Galway v Tipperary, 7.0 Semple Stadium

J McGrath (Westmeath). *Live TG4

Eight of the Tipp U-21 squad had less than ideal preparation for this decider as they celebrated the return of Liam McCarthy to the Premier County for the first time since 2001 this week, and that will be of some encouragement to Galway, who have just 60 minutes of competitive action behind them.

That lack of game time could prove critical, but they certainly improved as their semi-final win over Dublin progressed. They are also not lacking for motivation, after being forced to play in Thurles despite loud protests. Star attacker Richie Cummins has been declared fit and, with Joe Canning now over-age, he'll have to hit form if they are to cause an upset.

Tipp haven't really had a competitive game since the end of July, as their last-four win over Antrim was little more than shooting practice. But given their pedigree, it's hard to look past Tipp despite the suspension of full-back John Coghlan. Ken Hogan has been forced to switch captain Padraic Maher to No 3, move Brendan Maher to centre-bac- and brought Ciaran Hough into the team at left half-back. Odds: Tipperary 1/5 Galway 4/1 Draw 12/1

Verdict: Tipperary

Tipperary -- J Logue, K O'Gorman, Padraic Maher (capt), M Cahill, J Barry, B Maher, C Hough, S Hennessy, N McGrath, S Carey, Patrick Maher, B O'Meara, M Heffernan, P Murphy, J O'Dwyer

Galway -- C Finnegan, D Connolly, P Gordon, G O'Halloran, S Óg Linnane, D Burke (capt), N Donoghue, J Coen, B Daly, J Regan, N Quinn, E Forde, R Cummins, G Burke, G Kelly

All-Ireland U-21 'B' HC final

(Extra-time if necessary)

Meath v Kerry, 5.0, Thurles,

D Connolly (Kilkenny). *Live TG4

A live TV appearance for hurlers from either county is a rarity and with only one game under their belt (a semi-final win over Fermanagh), Kerry remain something of an unknown quantity.

Meath's path has been only a little more taxing. They had wins over Wicklow and Kildare before disposing of Roscommon in the semi-final. Managed by Kevin Dowd, brother of 1996 football All-Ireland winning captain Tommy, Meath have won their three games to date by a total of 65 points, thanks to the good form of the likes of Anthony Healy. Kerry won't make it easy, but the form is with the Royals.

Verdict: Meath

Meath -- S McCann; D Carthy, M Dunne (capt), W Mahady; A Watters, C Doyle, D Kennedy; K Keoghan, G Murphy; M O'Sullivan, E Marsh, A Douglas; B Slevin, N Heffernan, D Raleigh.

KERRY -- J O'Halloran; N Young, D O'Sullivan, J O'Connor; A Royale, B O'Leary, P Monson; R Kenny, D Fitzelle; D O'Connell, P Costelloe, P Geaney; S Nolan, P Boyle, J Flaherty.

Ladies football

Senior Championship SF Replay

Tyrone v Kerry, 2.45, Banagher (Offaly),

J Murray. *Live TG4

Tyrone and Kerry served up a feast of football in last weekend's drawn encounter, but, in truth, it was a game that Tyrone let slip after leading by six points. But that won't worry Kerry or their management and they will take heart from the fact that the scores were evenly spread and that their ace forward Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh was not contained.

Tyrone's management will want a performance that lasts 60 minutes and an end to the costly errors that let the Munster representatives back in late on. If they can do that and can get early ball into Donnelly, Connolly and Begley, you would fancy them to advance to meet Dublin in the final.

Verdict: Tyrone

TYRONE -- S Lynch, E Teague, M Kelly, S McLaughlin (capt), M Donnelly, N Woods, L Donnelly, S Quinn, S Donnelly, C Donnelly, G Begley, A O'Kane, C McGahan, S Connolly, J Donnelly

KERRY -- E Murphy, K Gleeson, A Leonard, G Crowley, B Lane, A Desmond, D Murphy, L Scanlon, B Breen (capt), M O Donoghue, S J Joy, L Galvin, P Dennehy, L Ní Mhuircheartaigh, S Houlihan


All-Ireland Senior Final

Galway v Wexford, 4.0, Croke Park

Karl O'Brien. * Live RTE 2.

After Cork's dominance of the past decade, this is a new-look final pairing which should not disappoint.

Wexford's return is no surprise. Under new manager JJ Doyle, the 2007 champions, who suffered semi-final heartbreak in the past two years, have already successfully defended their Division 1 league title. They only beat Kilkenny by a point that day, but ousted them easily in their semi-final.

Underpinned by the likes of Mags Darcy, Catherine O'Loughlin, Kate Kelly and the Leacy sisters (Mary and Una), they have a wealth of experience and skill and, with players like Katrina Parrock (a teenage sub back in 2007) coming of age, are a tall, strong side.

Galway have been another of this season's 'form' teams. Having beaten Cork in the league, they also defeated the treble-chasing Rebelettes in a low-scoring semi-final replay.

Galway lost the 2008 final, their first in 10 years, but the arrival of new manager Noel Finn, who led their intermediates to an All-Ireland last year, has re-focused them.

The introduction of Caroline Murray, Tara Rutledge and the versatile Breda Hanney (who can also help out in midfield) has helped take the load off free-taker Aisling Connolly (daughter of Galway great John) and veteran Veronica Curtin is absolutely flying upfront.

Defensively, Sandra Tannian, Regina Glynn and Anne Marie Hayes stand out and Susan Earner is an excellent goalie. They also have a serious bench threat in Jessica Gill, still not quite match fit after a cruciate injury.

After losing three finals since their last victory in 1996, Galway's hunger will be voracious, but Wexford don't want to be seen as 'one-hit wonders' and their huge physical strength should nick it. Verdict: Wexford.

Wexford -- M D'Arcy; C O'Connor, C O'Loughlin, K Atkinson; N Lambert,M Leacy, A O'Connor; C Murphy, D Codd; K Kelly, U Leacy,M O'Leary; K Parrock, U Jacob,J Dwyer.

Galway -- S Earner; S Tannian, S Dervan, N Kilkenny; R Glynn, AM Hayes,Therese Manton; E Kilkelly, O Kilkenny; C Murray, T Maher, B Hanney;T Rutledge, V Curtin, A Connolly

All-Ireland Intermediate Final

Offaly v Wexford, 2.0, Croke Park,

Owen Elliot.*Live RTE 2.

In Michaela Morkan, Elaine Dermody and Arlene Watkins last year's junior cha,mpions Offaly have stars. Wexford's intermediates, unbeaten this season, retained their league title (Division 2) and have beaten Offaly twice this year. Led by Louise Codd, Jean Hayden and Ciara O'Connor, they knocked out a fancied Limerick in the semis, but could Offaly's big-day experience swing it?

Verdict: Offaly.

Offaly -- A Kennedy; F Stephens, L Keena, K Brady; S Sullivan, M Morkan (capt), L Sullivan; A Watkins, M Crean; M Davis, A Kelly, S Flannery; K Nugent, E Dermody, T Hannon.

Wexford -- HJacob; J Hayden, L O'Leary, C Atkinson; F Doran, L Codd, S Kehoe; E Moran, L O'Connor; F Rochford, S Nolan, S Redmond, S Kehoe, C O'Connor (capt) L Bolger.

All-Ireland Junior Final

Antrim v Waterford, 12.0, Croke Park,

Donal Leahy.*Live streaming

The Decies, managed by ex-Tipp player Andy Moloney, are back after losing last year's final with a noticeably reshaped defence, but have a serious injury doubt in Nicola Morrissey.

Antrim won the junior in 1997 and followed with two intermediate titles in 2001 and '03 and in Jane Adams and Racquel McCarry, have a real knack for bagging goals.

Verdict: Antrim.

Antrim -- M Graham; R Torney, A Martin, A Jackson; C Doherty, E Connolly, B Orchin; K O'Neill, N Connolly; M Convery, N McGuiness, S Graham; R McCarry, J Adams, (capt), L Connolly

Waterford -- A O'Brien; E Hannon, S Curran, KM Hearne; P Cunningham, P Jackman, J Simpson; C Raher, M Murphy (capt); A Lyng, GKenneally, J McCarthy; N Rockett, K Kelly, N Morrissey.

Donnchadh Boyle and Cliona Foley

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport