Saturday, July 1st
All-Ireland SFC Qualifiers Round 2A
Donegal v Longford, Ballybofey, 5pm
Once again Longford head into a qualifier game away to Ulster opposition very much as underdogs with not much hope giving.
Donegal had a day to forget the last day out against Tyrone withPatrick McBrearty’s 0-6 contribution about the only positive the Tir Chonaill men could take from their nine-point hammering against the rampant Red Hands in Clones, and the Longford defence are set to have their hands full in trying to stop the Kilcar ace from notching a similar haul.
The Midlanders have earned their reputation as ‘giant killers’ in the qualifiers in recent years, but their surprise element is surely gone by now as they head for Ballybofey at the weekend as 6/1 outsiders.
An eight-point victory over Louth last time out wasn’t expected but in Robbie Smyth and Michael Quinn there’s no question that Denis Connerton’s team hold some aces of their own.
Donegal’s defence should be able to curtail their threat however, while providing their front men with the ammunition to help book a comfortable win.
Meath v Sligo, Pairc Tailteann, 6pm
After good opening round wins in their provincial championship these two counties now find themselves in a shot out after defeats to Kildare and Mayo
Meath were simply outclassed by Kildare two weeks ago in Tullamore, where neutrals expected a closer contest, and Andy McEntee will be looking for an appropriate response when Sligo come to Navan on Saturday.
Sligo looked to be in trouble in the second-half of their qualifier meeting with Antrim but impressively reeled off 12 points without response to take the spoils against the Saffrons at Markievicz Park.
Stephen Coen’s eight second-half points proved the winning of the game for the Yeats men that day.
Mayo v Derry, MacHale Park, 5pm
It took Derry a while to come to terms with minnows Waterford down in Dungarvan last time out and Saturday will see their role as hot favourites from that game reversed when they arrive in Castlebar.
Damian Barton’s men have the quality in their pack that could present a potential banana-skin for last year’s beaten All-Ireland finalists.
The likes of Chrissy McKagiue and James Kielt would start for most teams in the country and will no doubt be key if the visitors are to deliver an unlikely upset at MacHale Park.
Stephen Rochford’s side weren’t all that convincing in last year’s qualifiers, struggling past Fermanagh and Westmeath, but they’ve a decent record against Ulster opposition and will want to deliver a response from the defeat to Galway earlier this month.
There’ll be plenty of interest to see if Aidan O’Shea makes the Westerners’ starting 15, having missing the first two cuts this summer, as well as whether or not the Westerners can keep things to script on their home sod.
Laois v Clare, Portlaoise, 3pm
A very difficult game to call as Laois are a side who haven’t had the greatest 12 months but at home along with some of their quality players performing can get the edge here but Clare football is improving and unlike the O’Moore men their last 12 months have been memorable.The Banner men put up a brave effort against Kerry in Munster, having been hammered by the Kingdom twice in last year’s championship, and it offers plenty of encouragement heading for Portlaoise this weekend.
David Tubridy and Eoin Cleary remain the danger men in Colm Collins’ attack, while midfield stalwart Gary Brennan helps keep the supply constant and Clare will need it as Peter Creddon’s charges won’t want to have the curtain come down for 2017 on their own home turf.
The O’Moore County have three games under their belts thus far, earning victory against Wicklow in Aughrim last time out, and that could stand to them here as they look to exact revenge for last year’s narrow defeat to Clare at the same stage in Ennis.
Sunday, July 2nd
Munster SFC final
Kerry v Cork, Killarney, 2pm
The old rivalry down south turns a new chapter in Killarney this Sunday as Kerry and Cork vie for the biggest prize in Munster football.
The Kingdom will pursue their fifth provincial crown in-a-row and are strong favourites at 1/7 to deliver against the old enemy. With the McGrath Cup and National League title already in the bag so far this season, Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s side can add another trophy to the cabinet on Sunday before they chase the ultimate prize.
Cork struggled past Waterford and Tipperary respectively to reach their fourth provincial final in five years and won’t be able to afford the same wastefulness they had in attack in those two games when they visit Killarney this weekend.
The Rebels haven’t had a win at Fitzgerald Stadium in 22 years and if they leave chances behind then you can be sure Paul Geaney and James O’Donoghue will make them pay for it at the other end.
It has been nine years since Cork last beat Kerry in a Munster decider, in plain truth, the trophy doesn’t look like leaving the Kingdom this weekend.