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Elite sides hit the All Ireland trail

By John Cambell

The last of the provincial champions should be crowned tomorrow when Dr Crokes (Kerry) and The Nire (Waterford) meet in the AIB Munster Club decider at Pairc Ui Caoimh, Cork (2.00).

This means that the semi-final line-up for the AIB All Ireland Club Championship semi-finals will see St Brigid's (Roscommon), the Connacht kingpins, take on newly-crowned Ulster title-holders Crossmaglen Rangers while Leinster winners Moorefield (Kildare) will face the victors from tomorrow's Munster showdown.

Both matches are expected to be played on February 18.

Crossmaglen have undoubtedly the best track record of all these sides spanning the past decade but given that the make-up of their side has changed appreciably of late it will be interesting to see how their newcomers fare in the more demanding atmosphere of the All Ireland series.

Dr Crokes are firm favourites to come up trumps in tomorrow's Munster showdown and that's hardly surprising.

The Nire are an honest, hard-working side who have ploughed a strong furrow through Waterford but they are unlikely to match their Killarney opponents for style and finishing power.

Eoin Brosnan and Colm Cooper are the big guns in the Dr Crokes side who are managed by new Kerry manager Pat O'Shea.

If they win, he will surely want to lead the side onto the All Ireland stage but by then the McGrath Cup competition will have been completed and the National League will be moving into top gear meaning that he will be fully immersed in his duties with the Kingdom side.

St Brigid's proved something of a surprise packet in Connacht, Karl Mannion's late goal giving them a stunning victory over Corofin in the decider.

But it appears they have discovered new confidence and are actually looking forward to crossing swords with Crosmsgalen.

Not many teams do that so maybe the westerners have something up their sleeves.

Then again, they may need to have if they hope to deflate the confidence and authority that the Armagh champions showed in their provincial final win.

Belfast Telegraph


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