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Calling the shots

 

By Declan Bogue

ALL-IRELAND CLUB FOOTBALL SEMI-FINAL

SLAUGHTNEIL v NEMO RANGERS

(Saturday, Portlaoise, 4.30pm)

The never-ending Slaughtneil story continues.

To beat Nemo and their prolific attack, they will need to over-egg their Ulster style of football and keep the score down.

They have it within them to get to their third All-Ireland final in four years.

VERDICT: Slaughtneil

ALLIANZ DIVISION ONE

MONAGHAN v TYRONE

(Saturday, Castleblayney, 7.00pm)

Skin and hair will be flying around ‘Blayney in a game that neither side can afford to lose, not just for survival points in Division One but for what it might mean later in the season when they meet in the Ulster Championship.

Right now, it looks like Monaghan’s to lose.

VERDICT: Monaghan

ALLIANZ DIVISION ONE

DONEGAL v KILDARE

(Sunday, Ballyshannon, 2.00pm)

The annual league game comes to Ballyshannon on the tip of Donegal with Kildare coming to town.

This is the game that Declan Bonner will have chalked down as two points in his own head.

VERDICT: Donegal

ALLIANZ DIVISION TWO

CORK v CAVAN

(Sunday, Pairc Ui Chaoimh, 1.00pm)

Cavan’s season has been quite improbable, but nonetheless encouraging for Mattie McGleenan, who stuck to his guns and handed out multiple debuts in the opening rounds of the league.

It has worked wonders for him so far, but a win on the road to Cork is a rare thing.

VERDICT: Cork

ALLIANZ DIVISION TWO

DOWN v CLARE

(Sunday, Pairc Esler, 2.00pm)

Last year Down lost a league tie against the same opposition in Ennis and it appeared as if they were at their lowest ebb in decades.

However, a revival was staged over the rest of their league campaign and they went on to show significant progress in reaching an Ulster final.

They should make home advantage count here.

VERDICT: Down

ALLIANZ DIVISION THREE

FERMANAGH v DERRY

(Saturday, Brewster Park, 7.00pm)

An absolutely massive game in the context of promotion hopes for both of these teams.

Fermanagh have a good age profile and know the importance of playing in Division Two. With a squad now with real depth, they will seek to exploit Derry’s long-term thinking and loss of the Slaughtneil players.

VERDICT: Fermanagh

ALLIANZ DIVISION THREE

OFFALY v ARMAGH

(Sunday, O’Connor Park, 2.30pm)

Offaly are finding life difficult at this level, and will find an organised Armagh in little mood to be charitable.

VERDICT: Armagh

ALLIANZ DIVISION FOUR

LONDON v ANTRIM

(Sunday, Ruislip, 2.30pm)

For all the progress of Ciaran Deely’s men, Antrim should have too much this weekend.

VERDICT: Antrim

ALLIANZ NHL 1B

ANTRIM v LIMERICK

(Sunday, Cushendall, 2.00pm)

Limerick have been a cut above most in the league so far.

VERDICT: Limerick

ALLIANZ NHL 2B

DERRY v ARMAGH

(Sunday, Celtic Park, 2.00pm)

Derry’s recent league defeat to Donegal brought many raised eyebrows, but Collie McGurk can now call upon the Slaughtneil contingent.

VERDICT: Derry

ALLIANZ NHL 2B

DONEGAL v DOWN

(Sunday, Letterkenny, 2.00pm)

Donegal are making big strides in hurling under Mickey McCann, but Down are already ahead of the curve in terms of fitness this early in the season.

VERDICT: Down

ALLIANZ NHL 3A

TYRONE v ROSCOMMON

(Sunday, Healy Park, 2.00pm)

VERDICT: Roscommon

ALLIANZ NHL 3A

MONAGHAN v WARWICKSHIRE

(Sunday, Birmingham, 1.00pm)

VERDICT: Warwickshire

ALLIANZ NHL 3B

CAVAN v FERMANAGH

(Sunday, Kingspan Breffni, 2.00pm)

VERDICT: Fermanagh

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