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Padraic Collins & Eddie Kirwin preview some of the top Club matches for around the country this weekend. Plus a full list of the weekends fixtures with betting.
Wolfe Tones v Summerhill, 2pm Sunday,Parc Tailteann.
Championship favourites Wolfe Tones meet this year’s surprise package Summerhill in Sunday’s SFC semi-final at Parc Tailteann, Navan, throw in at 2pm.
Wolfe Tones, situated four miles outside Navan, finished top of Group A, maintaining a 100% record along the way and defeated this weekend’s opposition by seven points only last month. This set up a quarter-final appearance against Walterstown, whom they defeated with proficiency 3-14 to 0-9.
It was county star Cian Ward, ably abetted by younger brother Fiachra, who did the damage on the day scoring 1-3. The former set up two goals in two minutes during the opening half, skilfully setting up Stephen Sheppard and a minute later Fiachra, to leave Walterstown helplessly adrift at half-time. Ten minutes into the second-half the Meath forward helped himself to a goal to seal ‘The Blacks’ fate.
Summerhill finished runners up in the same group and that meant they had dubious task of taking on the much fancied Navan O’ Mahonys in the previous round. However, two early goals from Stephen Kennedy laid the foundations for their shock victory as the 2008 finalists gained revenge for that defeat by O’ Mahonys.
Summerhills early group form was quite good but recent defeats to Trim and Wolfe Tones saw a slump in confidence and the majority of punters believed they would struggle against the stronger Brew Hill side. Despite a comeback from O’ Mahonys, Summerhill held on due, in no part, to a top drawer performance from goalkeeper Tony McDonnell, who pulled off a number of superb saves.
Tones have already defeated Summerhill in the group stage and with forward Cian Ward in blistering form for the purple and gold, Summerhill will have be on top form to pull off another shock win.
Verdict: Wolfe Tones
Donaghmore/Ashbourne V Dunshaughlin, 3:45pm Sunday
The senior football championship in Meath is down to the latter stages and the second semi-final sees Donaghmore/Ashbourne go up against Dunshaughlin with the latter going into the game as underdogs.
Donaghmore/Ashbourne enjoyed a great run in the group stages of the championship. After a poor start when they lost to Navan O’Mahonys and Rathkenny, they then went on a good run beating next Sundays opponents on a scoreline of 0-14 to 0-8 before also disposing of Nobber and Seneschalstown to book a place in the knock-out stages. In the quarter-final, they really caught fire, hitting 3-14 in an 11 point win over St Peters. There are no star players on this Donaghmore/Ashbourne team and it is really a question of the sum of the parts being better than any individual but he likes of Eoin Reilly and Bryan Menton are the go to guys.
Dunshaughlin are one of the names one associates with Meath football and they are back in a semi-final again. They come in as underdogs following their defeat to Sunday’s opposition in the group stages. In that phase, they did record wins over Seneschalstown, Nobber and Rathkenny to book a place in the quarter-finals where they beat Simonstown Gaels by a single point. Meath star Caoimhin King will anchor the defence while another former Meath great, Richie Kealy is also still on the scene.
Garrycastle v Tyrellspass, 2pm Sunday, Cusack Park.
Champions Garrycastle will continue their quest for an unprecedented three in-a-row this coming weekend as they take on Tyrellspass in the Westmeath SFC semi-final at Cusack Park. Throw in 2pm.
In the quarter-final, the 2009 and 2010 county champions made light work of nearest rivals Mullingar Shamrocks, in a repeat of last year’s final, demolishing them 2-10 to 0-7. The reigning champions showed sheer ruthlessness to dispatch the Mullingar men and attained all this without talisman Des Dolan.
The match itself was a real let-down as the weather played havoc to both sides. However, ‘Castle showed, as they have all season, they’re once again real contenders for the Flanagan cup and every other club must be at odds as to how to stop them.
Tyrellspass approach this game on the back of some average performances and have stuttered their way through the championship to date. A recent league draw, preceded by a narrow victory, didn’t bode well for The Tidy Town ahead of their quarter-final against The Downs. However, a strong second-half display in a hard fought game was enough to secure a 1-14 to 1-08 victory and set up a tantalising encounter against champions Garrycastle.
While favourites Garrycastle will be seeking a third consecutive Westmeath Senior County Championship, Anthony Cunningham’s men will be wary of an experienced Tyrellspass side containing county captain Denis Glennon and former inter-county footballer Martin Flanagan and will be looking no further than this weekend’s match.
Mullingar Shamrocks V St Lomans, 4pm Sunday
The Westmeath Senior Football Championship is also down to the latter stages and in the semi-finals this weekend, Mullingar Shamrocks take on St Lomans of Mullingar in Cusack Park. With this game being a local derby, there is more than a county final place at stake as local bragging rights will also be a factor.
Mullingar Shamrocks come into this game after emerging from Group 2 of the championship. They enjoyed wins over The Downs, Maryland, Bunbrosna and Athlone with a 2-10 to 0-7 defeat to Garrycastle being the only blot on their copybook. In the quarter-finals, they went to town on Castledaly winning by 3-9 to 0-7 points to set them up for this weekend’s clash with St Lomans. Once again, they will look to Simon Quinn to lead the attack while former Westmeath full-back, Donal O’Donoghue will line out at centre-back as Shamrocks bid to lift the title for the first time since 2000.
St Lomans cruised through Group 1 of the championship, seeing off Tyrrellspass, Castledaly, Killucan, St Malachys and Tubberclair to finish in top spot and go straight through to the semi-finals. St Lomans’ will be missing Westmeath’s 19 year old great midfielder, John Heslin who has departed for the Richmond Tigers Australian Rules team and what a loss he will be. They will therefore look to the likes of Westmeath forward, Conor Lynam and Paul Sharry to lead them to the final.
Verdict: Mullingar Shamrocks
Longford Slashers V Clonguish, 4pm Sunday.
It is the big day in the Longford GAA calendar and it brings together two of the big hitters in Longford football as Longford Slashers and Clonguish go head to head in the county final on Sunday.
The Slashers are the holders having seen off Dromard in last year’s final while Clonguish won two in a row before that. It’s a bit like the Kilkenny V Tipperary rivalry in hurling and this one could go either way.
The Slashers look in a determined mood to retain their title and have reached this final after an impressive quarter-final victory over Abbeylara when they won by 0-13 to 1-8. They put up the exact same margin in the semi-final when beating Colm Cille who only managed 0-8. Once again, Colin Smith will be on the frees while county players such as Barry Gilleran, Dermot Brady and David Sheridan will be expected to lead from the front.
Clonguish have really come to the fore in Longford football over the last few years winning three titles since 2003. On the run to this final, they saw off Mostrim by 2-10 to 0-8 in the quarter-final before they enjoyed an emphatic 1-18 to 1-7 victory over Fr Manning Gaels in the semi-final. Once again, they will go into this County final, led by their greatest player, Paul Barden who has been the star of Longford football over the last decade. However, they are not a one man team as another Longford star, Paddy Dowd will start alongside Paul at midfield while his younger brother David will play in attack.