Preview: Sunday's Football and Hurling Club Finals
Sunday’s County Football and Hurling Finals
Antrim SFC Final
Cargin v Lamh Dhearg, Corrigan Park, 3.30pm
The Antrim SFC Final is a meeting between the last two winners – reigning champions Cargin, and 2017 champions Lámh Dhearg.
The latter secured their place in Sunday’s Final in dramatic fashion after finally overcoming Portglenone on Monday night at the third time of asking.
Antrim GAA Chairman, Ciaran McCavana, called a halt to the second replay when a free-taking shoot-out after extra-time was tied 9-9 in sudden death and explained afterwards he felt amateur players didn’t deserve to lose a semi-final in such a way.
The proceeds from the third replay were split between deterMND and Paul McKeevers Cancer Focus and Friends of Cancer Centre.
Lámh Dhearg prevailed in that match by 2-8 to 0-9, but it remains to be seen whether they will have recovered both physically and mentally from the effort in the six days between then and Sunday's Final.
Carlow SFC Final
Eire Og v Palatine, Netwatch Cullen Park, 3.45pm
Sunday’s Carlow SFC Final is a re-run of last year’s decider which Éire Óg won by four points.
They’ll be favourites to repeat the dose against a Palatine team that have lost a number of key players to travel abroad this year.
A new generation of young Palatine players have stepped into the breach admirably to get their club to this Final.
But it still looks like a big ask to register a win over their keen rivals in a County Final for the first time ever.
Longford SFC Final
Longford Slashers v Killoe Emmet Og, Pearse Park, 4pm
Overshadowed by Mullinalaghta for the last three years, Longford Slashers and Killoe will be keen to seize the moment now that they’re back in the limelight.
Killoe won the 212, 2014 and 2015 county titles while Slashers were victorious in 2010, 2011, and 2013 and both teams will have veterans of those successes in their ranks, but they’ve both also brought through a new generation of young footballers.
Killoe won Longford minor championships in 2017 and 2018, and their senior team is now heavily sprinkled with graduates of those sides.
Players like Mickey Quinn and Daniel Mimnagh will provide Killoe with an x-factor, but Slashers have been a very solid and well organised outfit this year under manager Noel O’Brien and will fancy their chances of causing an upset.
Limerick SHC Final
Na Piarsaigh v Patrickswell, Gaelic Grounds, 3.30pm - TG4
Whoever wins the Limerick SHC Final, history will be made.
Na Piarsaigh are trying to win three county titles in a row for the very first time, while if Patrickswell are triumphant they’ll go to the top of the all-time roll of honour with 20 county senior titles.
Patrickswell have already beaten Na Piarsaigh in the group phase of the Championship, but that was back in April so bears little relevance going into Sunday’s Final.
Managed by former Tipperary boss, Michael Ryan, Na Piarsaigh have won four matches in a row since that reverse and showed a lot of character to beat Kilmallock by five points in the semi-final despite playing with 14 men for much of it.
Patrickswell, too, were impressive in the penultimate stage, beating a Doon side that knocked them out last year by five points.
Both teams are stacked with Limerick county stars so it should be a high quality final.
Na Piarsaigh might be a slightly more balanced team, but if Cian Lynch and Aaron Gillane are at their best for the ‘Well, they are more than capable of dethroning the champions.
Kildare SHC Final
Coill Dubh v Naas, Newbridge, 3.30pm
Nass have been the dominant force in Kildare underage hurling for some time, but they’ve yet to translate that success to the senior grade having not won the county title since 2002.
They have the highest representation of players on the Kildare senior panel, but for whatever reason they’ve often flattered to deceive in the county championship.
They’re fancied by many to finally end their long wait on Sunday, but they’ll get nothing easy against a Coill Dubh team that already beat them by two points in the Division 1 League Final earlier this year.
Coill Dubh were county champions in 2014 and 2015 and are still backboned by veterans of those triumphs, whereas Naas are a young team still trying to make their mark.
If Naas can match Coill Dubh for physicality and work-rate in the middle third, then quality forwards like Jack Sheridan and James Burke could give them the edge.
Meath SHC Final
Kildalkey v Kiltale, Pairc Tailteann, 3.30pm
Kiltale have had an iron grip on the Meath SHC in recent times. On Sunday are gunning for their sixth county title in a row.
Their opponents, Kilkdalkey, will be underdogs, but when the two teams met in the 2017 Final Kiltale only won by a point so this match is far from a foregone conclusion.
It was more comfortable when the teams met earlier in this year’s Championship when Kiltale won by 10 points, but a lot of water has passed under the bridge since that result so it may not be all that relevant.
If Kiltale do manage to win a sixth in a row, they’ll have equally a record only previously achieved by Kilmessan between 1943 and 1948.
Roscommon SHC Final
Athleague v Four Roads, Athleague, 2.30pm
Four Roads won eight Roscommon SHC titles in a row from 2008 to 2015, so the fact that they haven’t one since then is regarded as nothing short of a famine in the hurling-mad club.
They were hotly fancied to beat Sunday’s opponents, Athleague, in last year’s Final, but fell to a surprise three-point defeat.
They’ll know not to take anything for granted this time around then against an Athleague outfit that are very well coached by former Westmeath manager, Seamus Qualter, who won two Christy Ring Cups when he was in charge of the Lake County.
Last year’s County Final win over Four Roads was Athleague's first since 1975. And even though they’re underdogs again this year, they are capable of repeating the dose if Four Roads don’t hurl to their full potential.
Wicklow SHC Final
Bray Emmets v Glenealy, Aughrim, 3.30pm
Glenealy are gunning for a third county title in a row but will face a stiff test in a Bray Emmets team that won their own three-in-a-row from 2014 to 2016.
When the teams met earlier in the Championship it was Bray who emerged convincing victors by a margin of nine points.
Three months have passed since that match, though, so it might be unwise to read too much into the result.
An interesting aspect of this match is that the teams are managed by two men from the Glynn-Barntown club in Wexford. 1997 Wexford All-Ireland winner, Garry Laffan, is Glenaly’s manager, while Paul Carley is in charge of Bray Emmets.