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Calling the shots: Looking forward to this weekend's games

By Declan Bogue

Pete McGrath has picked a very deliberate type of game with his team selection, and they will surely cause Monaghan some initial difficulties.

Ulster Senior Football Championship

MONAGHAN v FERMANAGH

(Saturday, Clones, 7pm)

Pete McGrath has picked a very deliberate type of game with his team selection, and they will surely cause Monaghan some initial difficulties.

However, the lack of dynamism off the bench is a cause for concern, while Monaghan are just a better balanced outfit. 

VERDICT: Monaghan

 

DONEGAL v ANTRIM

(Sunday, Ballybofey, 4pm)

Antrim welcome Matthew Fitzpatrick into their starting line-up, but you wonder just how much the player and his performance will have been hampered by the chaotic build-up to this fixture.

Rory Gallagher has done a brilliant job in rebuilding this Donegal side with youngsters, but he needs an Ulster title. It starts now. 

VERDICT: Donegal

 

CHRISTY RING CUP

ANTRIM v DOWN

(Saturday, Cushendall, 5pm)

Down’s win over London was highly impressive given that they have been losing players all year, with Cailean Bailie’s recent departure just another sucker punch to manager Marty Mallon.

Antrim have shown great form and will be primed for this one in front of the Cushendall crowd. 

VERDICT: Antrim

 

NICKY RACKARD CUP

TYRONE v ARMAGH

(Saturday, Carrickmore, 3pm)

Tyrone have managed at this level admirably all season and pulled off a couple of impressive results against their neighbours, Donegal and Monaghan. However, Armagh are operating at a slightly higher level and this should tell. 

VERDICT: Armagh

 

MONAGHAN v DERRY

(Saturday, Inniskeen, 5pm)

Collie McGurk’s hand has been significantly strengthened over the last month with Chrissy McKaigue and Brendan Rogers coming back to hurl for the county. They should book their ticket to the final easily. 

VERDICT: Derry

 

CONNACHT SENIOR FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP

MAYO v SLIGO

(Sunday, Castlebar, 2pm)

When the story of Mayo’s season begins with a dropping of Aidan O’Shea, then you know Stephen Rochford must mean business as they bid to win back their Connacht title. 

VERDICT: Mayo

 

LEINSTER SENIOR FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP

LAOIS v LONGFORD

(Sunday, Portlaoise, 3pm)

Longford have always been able to take down much more illustrious opponents, but those on their same level have always caused bother. Laois were relegated to the basement while Longford narrowly avoided it.

VERDICT: Longford

 

CARLOW v WEXFORD

(Sunday, Dr Cullen Park, 3pm)

Two Ulstermen come up against each other, of sorts. Former Monaghan manager Seamus McEnaney won promotion with Wexford this spring to Division Three but was handed a bad beating in the league final by Westmeath.

Carlow are managed by Turlough O’Brien and trained by Down’s Steven Poacher and had their best league campaign in 10 years. This could be an ambush here. 

VERDICT: Carlow

 

LOUTH V WICKLOW

(Sunday, Parnell Park, 3pm)

Colin Kelly’s Louth side made sure of two consecutive promotions and they did it in double quick time having secured promotion before the end of March.

Johnny Magee has a few seasons to get things right in Wicklow, but it’s not working.

VERDICT: Louth

 

MUNSTER SENIOR HURLING CHAMPIONSHIP

TIPPERARY V CORK

(Sunday, Semple Stadium, 4pm)

Tipp have had ample time to recover from last month’s 16-point hiding in the league final and if ever a team could get a warning not to get above their station, that was it.

With Seamus Callanan back, this will be one-way traffic for the defending champions.

VERDICT: Tipperary

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