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Which province will produce the 2016 AIB GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Club Champions?

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Weekend GAA Previews

Friday, December 07, 2012

There are just two provincial finals left to be decided in the AIB Club Championships, and both take place this Sunday.

Both games are in Leinster, with the hurling final between Oulart-the-Ballagh (Wexford) and Kilcormac/Killoughey (Offaly) starting at 2pm in Nowlan Park, Kilkenny, and the football decider between Ballymun Kickhams (Dublin) and Portlaoise (Laois) taking place in Cusack Park, Mullingar at 1.45pm.

See below for previews of both games.

Sunday, December 9

AIB Leinster GAA Football Club Championship Final

Ballymun Kickhams (Dublin) v Portlaoise (Laois), Cusack Park, Mullingar, 1.45pm.

At the outset of the AIB Leinster GAA Football Club Championship, Ballymun Kickhams and Portlaoise were quickly identified as the two main contenders for the title.

And so it is that the pair have reached the final. Both have been outstanding in 2012, and a provincial final is a fitting reward for their achievements. They will both feel confident though, that this game need not be the summit of their ambitions.

Portlaoise of course, have been here before. The Laois champions have won the Leinster title on seven occasions, in 1971, 1976, 1982, 1985, 1987, 2004 and 2009. It is an even and impressive spread of success, and they sit proudly on top of the roll of honour in the province.

Ballymun Kickhams have never won the Leinster title before, but they did reach a final, back in 1982 when they were defeated by Portlaoise. It is a fitting testament to the enduring strength of both clubs that 30 years later they are both back in the final.

There is very little between the teams going into this final. Both are laden with players who have played for their counties at various levels, and both have come through very difficult campaigns in their counties and in the province.

Last 5 Leinster Club Finals


2011: Garrycastle 1-8 St. Brigid's 0-10
2010: Kilmacud Crokes 0-14 Rhode 1-7
2009: Portlaoise 1-9 Garrycastle 1-5
2008: Kilmacud Crokes 2-7 Rhode 1-7
2007: St. Vincent's 3-6 Tyrrellspass 0-8

Ballymun ended 27 years of hurt for themselves in the capital earlier this year when they defeated Kilmacud Crokes in an exciting county final.

They then marched confidently into their Leinster campaign, producing a sensational performance to crush fancied Westmeath champions Mullingar Shamrocks by 2-13 to 0-7 in the quarter-final. They faced Kildare champions Sarsfields in the semi-final, and eked out a solid 1-8 to 0-5 win in very poor conditions in Newbridge.

Portlaoises' march to the final has also been impressive. They secured a sixth successive Laois title with a seven-point win over Arles-Kilcruise, and then made short work of Wicklow champions St. Patrick's in the Leinster quarter-final, dishing out a trimming of 3-15 to 0-4.

They faced the outstanding Longford champions Emmet Óg Killoe in the Leinster semi-final, and Portlaoise emerged victorious after an exciting battle, winning 1-11 to 2-5.

Ballymun will look once more to the likes of Dean Rock, James McCarthy, Davy Byrne and Ted Furman, while Portlaoise will be expecting big games from Cahir Healy, Paul Cahillane, Colm Boyle and Brian McCormack.

This game will be extremely close and a draw is hard to rule out.

AIB Leinster GAA Hurling Club Championship Final

Oulart-the-Ballagh (Wexford) v Kilcormac/Killoughey (Offaly), Nowlan Park, Kilkenny, 2pm.

For the second season in succession, the AIB Leinster GAA Hurling Club Championship final will be contested by a Wexford and an Offaly team.

Last season's decider saw Offaly champions Coolderry defeat Oulart-the-Ballagh by four points, and the vanquished Wexford men are back again to take on another team from the Faithful County, Kilcormac/Killoughey.

The last time teams from both those counties contested a final before 2011 was back in 1994, when Birr defeated Oulart-the-Ballagh, so the Wexford champions will be desperate to end this poor record against Offaly teams in finals.

Indeed, their overall record in Leinster finals is poor. This is their third final in a row, with last year's loss to Coolderry coming after a defeat in the 2010 final to O'Loughlin Gaels from Kilkenny.

As well as that, the year after they lost that final to Birr in 1994, they lost another Leinster final in 1995, to then Kilkenny champions Glenmore. So they have lost all four finals they have played so far in their history.

For Kilcormac/Killoughey, there is no such hoodoo, as this is their first ever Leinster final. The club won their first ever Offaly title this year, defeating St. Rynagh's in the final, and they have embarked on an odyssey through the province since then.

They had five points to spare against Carlow kingpins Mount Leinster Rangers in the quarter-final, and then came through a real thriller in the semi-final against Laois outfit Rathdowney-Errill, emerging in the end after goals from Dan Currams and Peter Geraghty gave them a four point win.

Oulart-the-Ballagh have had a very difficult route to the final. They defeated Faythe Harriers in the county final, and then recorded a stirring one-point win over Kilmaced Crokes in the Leinster quarter-final.

They took on much-fancied Kilkenny champions Ballyhale Shamrocks in the Leinster semi-final last weekend, and again came through with just a point to spare, Eoin Moore lashing over the winner at the death.

Kilcormac-Killoughey are quite reliant on the accuracy of Ciaran Slevin, who has hit 1-17 in their two games in Leinster so far. Oulart-the-Ballagh's attacking threats are more evenly spread, with Nicky Kirwin, Garrett Sinnott and Rory Jacob first among equals in a potent attack.

Kilcormac-Killoughey have done brilliantly to follow up a first county title with a first provincial final, but Oulart-the-Ballagh have come through two epic games to get this far, and coupled with the pain of losing the last two finals, they will surely be unstoppable here.

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