The main event
There’s been a huge demand for tickets for Sunday’s Ulster final in Clones with Ulster GAA confirming that aside from the small amount already released on general sale, all tickets will be distributed among the two counties, clubs and season ticket holders.
With Armagh into a first Ulster final since 2008 and Derry looking to go back to back for the first time since 1976 a cracking atmosphere is expected.
Despite a poor league campaign, Armagh have impressed on the easier side of the draw while Derry haven’t been too stressed in overcoming Fermanagh and Monaghan in an unusually uncompetitive Ulster championship.
But this final could be very interesting if Armagh test their long-kicking game of last summer against Rory Gallagher’s ultra organised Derry team. A clash of styles, Armagh are averaging 1-17 in their three wins and Derry are averaging 2-19.
Louth will contest a Leinster football final this weekend for just the second time since 1960. That controversial defeat in the 2010 decider means they haven’t won the Leinster championship since 1957 when they were 2-9 to 1-7 winners over Dublin. Their opponents on Sunday at Croke Park. Dessie Farrell’s team are in pursuit of an incredible 13 titles in a row, but they were far from convincing in stumbling past Kildare in the semi-final.
We rarely read too much into league games with Dublin over the years, as they’ve always upped several gears come championship. But the result against Kildare was signalled 3½ months ago when there was just a point between the sides.
When Dublin faced Louth in late March, there was just a point between them at half-time and Dublin pushed past their determined opponents to win by seven in the end. Something similar may be on the cards on Sunday.
But either way it’s going to be special day for Louth football, with their senior team showing constant improvement since Mickey Harte’s arrival.
Munster hurling watch
So a quick reminder of what’s what. The top two teams after four games apiece will head into the provincial final with the winner progressing into the All-Ireland semi-final. The loser will head into the quarter final, where they will meet teams who emerge from the preliminary quarterfinals. Which will be contested by third place in the group against one of the Joe McDonagh Cup finalists. It’ll be the end of the road for the fourth placed team, and for the bottom team they will head into a relegation/promotion playoff, but only if the winner of the Joe McDonagh Cup is from Munster.
After two games for each county, Waterford are winless, Limerick and Clare are on two points apiece and Cork and Tipperary are both on three points with a draw and a win. Teams that are level on points are separated first by who won their head to head, if it was a draw or there are more than two teams level on points then scoring difference comes into the mix. And if that’s level, it’ll come down to who has scored the most.
Waterford need a result in Saturday’s meeting with Clare to keep their hopes of progression alive.
TV and Fixtures
SATURDAY MAY 13th
Munster SHC round 3 Waterford v Clare, Semple Stadium, 6pm (Streaming on GAAGO)
Tailteann Cup round 1 Cavan v Laois, Breffni Park, 4pm (Streaming on GAAGO); Limerick v Longford, Gaelic Grounds, 6pm; Down v Waterford, Páirc Esler, 6pm; Meath v Tipperary, Páirc Tailteann, 6.30pm
SUNDAY MAY 14th
Leinster SFC final Dublin v Louth, Croke Park, 1.45pm (Live on RTÉ2)
Ulster SFC final Derry v Armagh, Clones, 4pm (Live on RTÉ2 and BBC NI)
Tailteann Cup round 1 Fermanagh v Wexford, Brewster Park, 1pm; Antrim v Leitrim, Corrigan Park, 1pm; Offaly v London, O’Connor Park, 2pm; Wicklow v Carlow, Aughrim, 4pm
The big news coming out of the Waterford camp ahead of the weekend is that Austin Gleeson will start the match against Clare at Semple Stadium.
Dublin have also named their team ahead of the Leinster SFC final against Louth – Stephen Cluxton retains his place between the posts.
Dublin (SFC v Louth): Stephen Cluxton, Daire Newcombe, David Byrne, Cian Murphy, Lee Gannon, John Small, Tom Lahiff, Brian Fenton, James McCarthy, Colm Basquel, Seán Bugler, Ciaran Kilkenny, Paul Mannion, Con O’Callaghan, Cormac Costello. Subs: David O’Hanlon, Craig Dias, Brian Howard, Seán MacMahon, Jack McCaffrey, Greg McEneaney, Ross McGarry, Lorcan O’Dell, Dean Rock, Niall Scully, Paddy Small.
Louth (SFC v Dublin): James Califf, Dan Corcoran, Peter Lynch, Donal McKenny, Leonard Grey, Niall Sharkey, Ciaran Murphy, Tommy Durnin, Conor Early, Conall McKeever, Sam Mulroy, Conor Grimes, Daire McConnon, Ciaran Downey, Liam Jackson. Subs: Peter McStravick, Ryan Burns, Dermot Campbell, Bevan Duffy, Ciaran Keenan, Craig Lennon, Conall McCaul, Oisin McGuinness, Dylan McKeown, Paul Mathews, Anthony Williams.
Armagh (SFC v Derry): Ethan Rafferty, Conor O Neill, Aaron McKay, Aidan Forker, Ciaran Mackin, Greg McCabe, Jarly Óg Burns, Ben Crealey, Shane McPartlan, Jason Duffy, Stefan Campbell, Rory Grugan, Andrew Murnin, Rian O’Neill,Conor Turbitt. Subs: Shea Magill, James Morgan, Barry McCambridge, Ross McQuillan, Callum Cumiskey, Ciaran Higgins, Connaire Mackin, Stephen Sheridan, Aidan Nugent, Oisin Conaty, Cian McConville.
Derry (SFC v Armagh): Odhran Lynch, Christopher McKaigue, Eoghan McEvoy, Conor McCluskey, Conor Doherty, Gareth McKinless, Padraig McGrogan, Conor Glass, Brendan Rogers, Padraig Cassidy, Paul Cassidy, Ethan Doherty, Niall Toner, Shane McGuigan, Niall Loughlin. Subs: Ryan Scullion, Declan Cassidy, Ciaran McFaul, Shea Downey, Lachlan Murray, Ben McCarron, Paul McNeil, Benny Heron, Conleth McGuckian, Mark Doherty, Niall O’Donnell.
Waterford (SHC v Clare): Billy Nolan, Conor Gleeson, Conor Prunty, Iarlaith Daly, Mark Fitzgerald, Calum Lyons, Jack Fagan, Jamie Barron, Darragh Lyons, Peter Hogan, Jack Prendergast, Neil Montgomery, Stephen Bennett, Austin Gleeson, Dessie Hutchinson, Subs: Shaun O’Brien, Conor Ryan, Tom Barron, Paddy Leavey, Patrick Curran, Colin Dunford, Patrick Fitzgerald, Padraig Fitzgerald, Kevin Mahony, Carthach Daly, Seamus Fitzgerald.
Clare (SHC v Waterford): Eibhear Quilligan, Adam Hogan, Conor Cleary, Rory Hayes, Diarmuid Ryan, John Conlon, David McInerney, David Fitzgerald, Cathal Malone, Peter Duggan, Tony Kelly, Aidan McCarthy, Ryan Taylor, Shane O’Donnell, Mark Rodgers. Subs: Eamonn Foudy, Cian Nolan, Ian Galvin, Shane Meehan, Aron Shanagher, Aaron Fitzgerald, Robin Mounsey, Paul Flanagan, Cian Galvin, Jack Kirwan, Seadna Morey.