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Calling the shots

 

Mickey Graham
Mickey Graham
Declan Bogue

By Declan Bogue

ULSTER SENIOR FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP

CAVAN v ARMAGH

(Tomorrow, Clones, 4.00pm)

Is this finally the chance for Kieran McGeeney to make it to his first provincial final since he brought Kildare to narrow defeat against Dublin in the 2009 Leinster final?

He will have to do it the hard way against a canny Cavan side under the guidance of Mickey Graham, with Martin Reilly finally under a manager that fully appreciates his talents.

Cavan’s to lose.

VERDICT: Cavan

ULSTER SENIOR

CAMOGIE FINAL

ANTRIM v DOWN

(Tomorrow, Clones, 2.00pm)

Down’s win over Derry in the semi-final, helped by the long-striking of Sarah-Louise Carr, put them in the driving seat.

A physical and powerful side, Down go into this as favourites.

Antrim were scheduled to play Armagh in the other semi-final but it never happened.

VERDICT: Down

JOE McDONAGH CUP

OFFALY v ANTRIM

(Today, Tullamore, 3.00pm)

A quite remarkable potted history between these two.

Thirty years ago they met in that historic All-Ireland semi-final, with Antrim winning through, while some of the members of the Offaly team went on to enjoy All-Ireland success in the following decade.

Now, Offaly are in the news for other reasons.

After two disastrous opening results in the Joe McDonagh Cup, the Offaly county board chose to remove one of their main men in manager Kevin Martin.

In his place comes Joachim Kelly, former manager of Portumna who will bring plenty of nous.

Antrim to take advantage of their disarray.

VERDICT: Antrim

CHRISTY RING CUP

DONEGAL v DOWN

(Today, Letterkenny, 3.00pm)

After losing their opening round game to Derry, Down recovered spectacularly well to send shockwaves through the group by beating Wicklow away from home.

That leaves the Ardsmen in with a serious chance of getting something out of the group, though they are dependent to some extent on Derry getting over Wicklow.

Ronan Sheehan’s men should do the business.

VERDICT: Down

DERRY v WICKLOW

(Today, Owenbeg, 3.00pm)

These two sides have met twice already, Wicklow taking home the points in round five of Division 2B, and the trophy in the league final played in snowy Inniskeen.

However, Derry have got off to a better start this time round in the Christy Ring and, with Sean Cassidy and Liam Óg Hinphey in fine form, they can realistically expect to turn the tables on Eamonn Scallon’s men.

This is the first time Wicklow will have crossed the border to face the Oak Leafers and home advantage may count for something with John McGurk’s side.

VERDICT: Derry

NICKY RACKARD CUP

TYRONE v LOUTH

(Today, Healy Park, 3.00pm)

After performing heroically to win in front of their home crowd in the first game against Mayo, Tyrone hurlers went out and shot themselves in the foot with the Sligo defeat in round two.

However, while Mattie Lennon’s side can stand accused of gross complacency then, the same will not apply here. The physical toll of that win over the Connacht men was mentioned by some members of the panel also.

As ever, they will look to Damian Casey for scores and they should do it. 

VERDICT: Tyrone

LONGFORD v ARMAGH

(Today, Pearse Park, 1.00pm)

It’s winner takes all in this clash, with Armagh continuing their tetchy relationship with the Nicky Rackard. They have reached the decider five times, but won it only once, in 2010.

These two met a couple of summers ago in Crossmaglen under similar circumstances and Armagh won out in Sylvester McConnell’s last season.

The Orchard hurlers’ season was nearly up a fortnight ago when they were five points down with 11 minutes left against Warwickshire. Although they put together a serious run to get on top, they still gave away a late goal that left Padraig O’Connor’s men with a draw.

VERDICT: Armagh

MONAGHAN v WARWICKSHIRE

(Today, Inniskeen, 1.00pm)

Monaghan haven’t got firing as they would have liked to this season and how much of that is down to Castleblayney’s extended run in the All-Ireland series, and a little bit of fatigue creeping in, is the question.

With a game in the round-robin series to play here and without a chance of making the semi-finals, Monaghan manager Trevor Hilliard will be looking ahead to the play-off game.

VERDICT: Warwickshire

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