John Campbell looks at this weekend's Championship games
Ulster Senior Football Championship Quarter-Final
Cavan v Fermanagh (Kingspan Breffni Park, Cavan 5.30)
Fermanagh go into this game boosted by that fine preliminary round win over Down while the Breffni side will getting their first taste of championship action this summer. Former Dublin captain Tommy Carr has been striving to revitalise Cavan’s fortunes but an indifferent National League campaign has done little to inspire confidence for the Ulster series. The Ernesiders looked assured and purposeful in overcoming Down and with Mark Murphy back in their squad, they will fancy their chances of booking a place in the semi-finals. Unless Cavan’s attacking ace Seanie Johnston is at concert pitch, they could struggle for scores.
Verdict: Fermanagh to win by four points.
Christy Ring Hurling Cup Semi-Final
Down v Mayo (Newry 3.30)
Down have regained their poise following a recent blip and, having accounted for Armagh in the Ulster hurling championship, they will now relish home advantage against a tricky Mayo side who have progressed steadily of late. Manager Jim McKernan is not quite beating the drums for his side yet but victory tomorrow would earn them a place in the final against either Carlow or Kerry and would put them in a strong position to win the trophy.
Verdict: Down to win by three points.
Nicky Rackard Cup, Rd One
Armagh v London (Athletic Grounds 4.30)
London were just squeezed out in the Ulster Championship last week-end by Derry while Armagh capitulated against Down. Even though they will be playing at home tomorrow, the orchard county will have their work cut out to keep the cross-channel side in check.
Verdict: London to win by four points.
Ulster Minor Hurling Championship Quarter-Final
Armagh v Derry (Casement Park 1.45)
Armagh have been making strides at this level of late, their under-age structures now rather more solid. But at colleges’ level, Derry are perhaps that little bit stronger and that could be reflected in tomorrow’s game. The Oak Leaf side includes a number of hugely talented individual players and this could help to tilt the pendulum in their favour.
Verdict: Derry to win by five points.
Leinster Senior Hurling Championship
Dublin v Antrim (Croke Park 2.00)
THIS is certainly a landmark game for Antrim. Having been granted their long-held request to enter the Leinster Championship, the must now prove that they are worth their place in the competition. To do so they will have to overcome a Dublin side that, under the baton of former Clare All Ireland winning skipper Anthony Daly, sparkled on occasions during the National League in which they laid down a marker in relation to their ongoing improvement. The Dubs will feel comfortable in Croke Park but Antrim boast useful experience and are unlikely to be fazed by the demands of the occasion. It could be a close contest between two teams both anxious to make their own particular statements.
Verdict: Antrim to win by two points.
Leinster Senior Football Championship
Dublin v Meath (Croke Park 4.00)
Few pairings in a Championship context hold quite the degree of allure that a Dublin v Meath fixture possesses. The ‘big two’ will again take centre stage to pursue somewhat contrasting ambitions – Dublin keen to negotiate the first hurdle en route to an All Ireland title as an extension of their provincial dominance spanning the last few years and Meath anxious to reclaim credibility following dismal Championship offerings of late. The Dubs under new manager Pat Gilroy still do not quite radiate the conviction that is associated with top-flight success while Meath’s earthy mix may be somewhat short on style. It will be a hard, attritional game, though.
Verdict: Dublin to win by two points.
Munster Senior Football Championship Semi-Finals
Kerry v Cork (Killarney 2.00)
They come no bigger than this. Another chapter will be written in one of the most enduring rivalries in football when the Kingdom and the Leesiders square up to each other once again, this time at the Munster semi-final stage. Cork duly disposed of Waterford in their outing to date while Kerry, still hurting following last year’s All Ireland defeat by Tyrone, know that victory in Killarney would provide considerable impetus in their bid to reclaim under the baton of Jack O’Connor once again. Even though Cork have shown a sharper appetite of late and parade a host of vastly experienced players, it is still difficult to look past the Kerry, particularly on their home patch.
Verdict: Kerry to win by three points.
Clare v Limerick (Ennis 4.00)
Limerick, under the supervision of former Kerry ace Mickey Ned Sullivan, did not quite do themselves justice in the National League but in last year’s All Ireland Qualifiers they created a major upset when they humbled Meath. They still look to have a battery of players well capable of rising to the Championship bait and although Clare are traditionally gritty and resilient, I have a feeling that their next-door neighbours might prevail in this one.
Verdict: Limerick to win by four points.