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Daily News

Weekend Club Previews

Thursday, November 01, 2012

With the vast majority of county championships now completed, the focus this weekend is firmly on the provincial club championships.

In football there are quarter-finals in Munster and Ulster, while the Donegal Senior Football Championship final will also take place in Ballybofey on Sunday afternoon.

The hurling focus is firmly on the AIB Leinster Club Championship, where there are three quarter-finals down for decision.

Sunday, November 4


AIB Munster GAA Football Championship Quarter-Finals
Castlehaven (Cork) v Dromcollogher-Broadford (Limerick), Clonakilty, 2pm

The Limerick and Cork champions meet in Clonakilty on Sunday, looking to progress to the last four of the Munster championship.

Cork champions Castlehaven won the Cork title last Sunday with a narrow victory over divisional team Duhallow, their fourth ever title win in the county. Given the few times they have emerged from the county to compete for provincial honours, it makes their record of winning three Munster titles (1989, 1994, 1997) all the more remarkable.

They face Dromcollogher-Broadford, a team with recent memories of provincial success as well. They won the 2008 Munster title by beating Kilmurry-Ibrickane in the final, and gave themselves another shot at the title last Friday evening when they defeated Newcastle West in the Limerick county final replay.

Both sides will feel they have a real chance of success in Munster this season, but this is an extremely difficult hurdle for both teams to start with. Whoever clears it will represent a serious challenge for other teams in the province.

Kilmurry-Ibrickane (Clare) v Dr. Crokes (Kerry), Quilty, 2pm

The windswept fishing village of Quilty hosts the meeting of local team Kilmurry-Ibrickane and Kerry champions Dr. Crokes in the AIB Munster GAA Football Championship quarter-final this Sunday.

Home advantage is a welcome boost for the Clare champions, as they will face a serious challenge when they meet Dr. Crokes. However, Kilmurry-Ibrickane have won four of the last five Clare titles, and won Munster titles in 2004 and 2009. Their pedigree at this level is undoubted.

Dr. Crokes also have won two Munster titles in the last decade, landing the crown last season, and back in 2006. With seven-time GAA All Star Colm Cooper in typically outstanding form, they won the Kerry title last weekend with a comfortable victory over Dingle, their third Kerry crown in a row.

Alongside Cooper, Kerry stars Eoin Brosnan, Kieran O'Leary and Johnny Buckley are central to Dr. Crokes' hopes, and they will feel they can beat Kilmurry-Ibrickane on Sunday. However, the Clare outfit are extremely experienced at this level, and a very tight game is surely in prospect.

AIB Ulster GAA Football Championship Quarter-Finals
Tempo (Fermanagh) v St Gall’s (Antrim), Brewster Park, Enniskillen, 2.30pm

Fermanagh champions Tempo will welcome Antrim heavyweights St. Gall's to Brewster Park this Sunday as both clubs get their provincial campaigns underway.

This is unfamiliar territory for Tempo, who won the Fermanagh title for the first time since 1973 with a stunning eight-point win over Lisnaskea back at the start of October.

They face exceptionally seasoned opponents in St. Gall's, who have won 11 of the last 12 Antrim titles, gaining massive experience in Ulster as a result of all those triumphs. Their conversion rate of winning provincial titles in that time has not been good as they would like, but they have still won two titles since 2001, in 2005 and 2009.

St. Gall's are overwhelming favourites for this game, and there is no doubt that Tempo are hugely up against it. If there is one thing in the Fermanagh side's favour, it's the fact that they have had over a month to prepare for this game.

Ballybay (Monaghan) v Kilcoo (Down), St Tiernach’s Park, Clones, 2.30pm

Ballybay's success in beating Clontibret to the Monaghan county title back on October 14, their first title in 25 years, sparked wild celebrations in the town but now they have to face up to a daunting tilt in Ulster.

In the quarter-final they face Down champions Kilcoo, who beat Mayobridge to the county crown a fortnight ago.

Neither Kilcoo nor Ballybay have ever really made an imprint in the Ulster club championship, so Sunday's game gives both a good chance to reach the semi-finals, and spark dreams of provincial success.

Down star Conor Laverty is a key man for Kilcoo, and his goal was crucial in the Down final against Mayobridge. For Ballybay, Farney star Paul Finlay is a key man, while Conor McGuinness is a real livewire in attack.

Errigal Ciarán (Tyrone) v Ballinderry (Derry), Healy Park, Omagh, 2.30pm

Tyrone champions Errigal Ciarán put out an early marker in the AIB Ulster GAA Football Championship a couple of weeks ago with a resounding victory over Cavan champions Mullahoran in the preliminary round.

Although there was nothing particularly surprising about that win, the scale of it did suggest that the Tyrone side are more than capable of having a real go at the Ulster and All-Ireland championships this season.

Backboned by the swashbuckling brilliance of Davy and Peter Harte, it will take a very good team to stop them in the province. Derry champions Ballinderry have no reason to doubt that they are that team, especially given the way they won their third Derry title in five seasons recently with a classy win over Slaughtneil in the final.

Ballinderry have some very experienced big name Oak Leaf men in their ranks, such as Enda Muldoon and Conleth Gilligan, and they are capable of guiding the 2001 Ulster champions over the line on Sunday. There is a real freshness to this Errigal team though, and Healy Park could be set for a thriller on Sunday.

Tipperary Senior Football Championship Final
Clonmel Commercials v Thomas McDonaghs, Semple Stadium, Thurles, 2.30pm

Reigning champions Thomas McDonaghs defend their Tipperary senior football championship title when they take on Clonmel Commercials at Semple Stadium, Thurles on Sunday afternoon.

McDonaghs’ 2011 success – they beat Moyle Rovers in the final to claim a first-ever title – was noteworthy in that it was the first time the title went to a north Tipperary Division side since Kilruane McDonaghs took the honours in 1975.

Clonmel are the second most successful side in the history of the competition with 14 titles, but their last success came back in 2002.

Thomas McDonaghs needed a replay to beat Éire Óg Anacarthy/Donohill in the quarter-final before sneaking past Cill Naile in the semi-final last Monday.

Clonmel have beaten Arravale Rovers and Luach Máigh-Ciasleán Laighnigh to get to the final and boast Premier County stars Aldo Matassa, Michael Quinlivan and Dónal Lynch in their ranks.

Thomas McDonaghs, who are a combination side representing nine clubs, are not eligible to play in the Munster Championship, so Clonmel are guaranteed a place in the provincial competition no matter what the outcome is on Sunday.

Waterford Senior Football Championship Final
Stradbally v The Nire, Fraher Field, Dungarvan, 3pm

Stradbally have featured in each of the last three Waterford senior football finals, but they relinquished the title to Ballinacourty last year having triumphed in 2009 and 2010. They gained a measure of revenge by dumping the reigning champions out in the semi-final.

The Nire last featured in the final back in 2009, when they lost by 2-5 to 0-9 to Sunday's opponents. Their last success in the competition came the previous year, in 2008.

The Nire will look to Maurice and Thomas O’Gorman as well as goalkeeper Tom Wall for inspiration, while Waterford star Tony Grey is Stradbally’s key man.

Donegal Senior Football Championship Final
Naomh Conaill v St Eunan’s, MacCumhaill Park, Ballybofey, 4pm.

A repeat of the 2009 final, which Eunan’s won comfortably, Sunday’s Donegal senior football final promises to be a brilliant contest.

St Eunan’s, who beat Dungloe in the semi-final, are the biggest force in the recent history of the competition, claiming three titles in a row between 2007 and ’09, having lost the decider in each of the two previous years.

Naomh Conaill, semi-final winners over Four Masters, have only won the title twice in their history (2005 and 2010) but the Glenties outfit boast a dazzling array of inter-county stars who shone in Donegal’s recent All-Ireland success, including Anthony Thompson, Leo McLoone, Marty Boyle and Dermot Molloy.

Rory Kavanagh is the main man for Eunan’s.


AIB Leinster GAA Hurling Championship Quarter-Finals
Kilmacud Crokes (Dublin) v Oulart-The Ballagh (Wexford), Parnell Park, 2.30pm

Crokes go into their first Leinster Championship game since 1985 buoyed by their recent county final success, when they beat Cuala in the final.

They face an Oulart-The Ballagh side fresh from a fourth successive Wexford senior hurling championship success at Parnell Park this Sunday.

Although the Model County kingpins are still searching for a first provincial title, they have contested the last two Leinster finals, losing to O’Loughlin Gaels (Kilkenny) and Coolderry (Offaly) in 2010 and 2011 respectively.

Darren Stamp, Rory Jacob and Keith Rossiter backbone a powerful Oulart unit, while Crokes will look to the O’Carroll brothers, Ross and Rory, as well as Dublin stars Ryan O’Dwyer and Niall Corcoran.

Mount Leinster Rangers (Carlow) v Kilcormac-Killoughey (Offaly), Dr. Cullen Park, Carlow, 2.30pm

A relatively novel pairing pitches a side who have previously competed in the intermediate provincial championship (Mount Leinster Rangers) against a side that has just won their first-ever county title (Kilcomrac-Killoughey).

The Offaly champions have never played in provincial competition before while Carlow’s finest (they’ve won five of the last seven county finals) have moved up from the intermediate grade having won the All-Ireland title last spring.

Rangers boast a host of inter-county stars, while Conor Mahon is the man to watch for the Faithful County challengers.

Rathdowney-Errill (Laois) v Clonkill (Westmeath), O’Moore Park, Portlaoise, 2.30pm

Rathdowney enjoyed a Laois county final replay win over reigning champions Clough-Ballacolla to reach this stage, but their record in provincial competition is poor, losing at the first hurdle in 2006, 2008 and 2010.

Westmeath champions Clonkill, who won their county title for the fourth times in six year, have an excellent reputation at this level and have come very close to causing major upsets against fancied opposition on a number of occasions.

Last year, they were very unlucky to lose to Ballyboden St Enda’s by just two points and they were All-Ireland intermediate champions as recently as 2008.

Rathdowney’s Ross King is a real star of the future having shone in the county final and subsequent replay, scoring a stunning 1-18 over the two games including the vital late point that earned his side a draw in the first game.

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