Week­end pre­views and team news

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - GAELICGAMES - By Seán Mo­ran

Satur­day

Women’ s All-Ire­land Club SF C fi­nal Fox rock-Cabin tee ly( Dublin) vM our ne abbey( Cork) (Par­nel­lPark,5.15–LiveonTG4)

■ No short­age of hunger in this fi­nal, as the clubs have lost the last four be­tween them– the Cork club three times and Foxrock-Cabin­teely two years ago – so there will be one elated team in Par­nell Park this evening. For a num­ber of play­ers they’ re rene wing ac­quain­tances af­ter Septem­ber’ s in­ter-county All-Ire­land fi­nal. M our ne abbey have the edge that they beat their op­po­nents in last year’ s semi-fi­nal but the south Dublin club have kicked on since then. When they shocked Car na con with late scores in the 2016 semi-fi­nal they were sim­ply un­able to stay with the ex­pe­ri­enced mul­ti­ple cham­pi­ons D on agh­moyne.T his year thought hey again came late through RoisínMc Gov­ern to beat the Mon ag han side and won’ t be in­tim­i­dated by the op­po­si­tion de­spite the nar­row loss 12 months ago. In a strong Mourne­abbey at­tack Ci ar a and Do ire ann O’ Sul­li­van both col­lected T G 4 All Stars last week­end and they were clin­i­cal beat­ing Foxrock last year but their All-Ire­land fi­nal dis­plays haven’ t al­ways been. In these mi-fi­nal they com­fort­ably beat K ilk err in-Cl on ber ne, who had evicted cham­pi­ons Car na con so there’ s not much in it but the Le inst er cham­pi­ons have re­freshed their line-up to a greater ex­tent and in Dublin’s Sinéad Goldrick, an­other All Star, and Ni­amh Collins plus Lorna F us ci ar di they have a ter­rific baseathalf­back. Ver­dict:Foxrock-Cabin­teely O’ Byrne Cup( Le inst er SF) round one LouthvWex­ford (Darver, 5.0) Laois v Meath (O’MoorePark,6.0)

Long­ford­vWick­low (New­town­forbes,7.0) ■ The in­ter-county sea­son is with us again, brought for­ward by nearly a month to thin any sched­ul­ing dif­fi­cul­ties with the sec­ondary pro­vin­cial com­pe­ti­tions. The main fo­cus of in­ter­est is go­ing to be on how the ex­per­i­men­tal rules play out in their first trial matches even if the most sig­nif­i­cant in­for­ma­tion will come from the league fix­tures, start­ing in Jan­uary. Me a th, the hold­ers, travel to Port la oise to take on the Le­in­ster fi­nal­ists but these matches and Sun­day’ s be­tween Carlo wand West me a th are un­likely to be the source of any im­me­di­ate rev­e­la­tion. Wick low man­ager John Evans said dur­ing the week that anec­do­tal ev­i­dence from ref­er­ees sug­gested that they are finding the task of keep­ing track of the max­i­mum three con­sec­u­tive passes a chal­lenge. There will be an­other round of matches next week­end when Ul­ster’ s M cK en na Cup gets off the blocks be­fore a break un­til af­ter Christ­mas.

Sun­day

Le inst er club SF C fi­nal Kil ma cu dCrok es( Dublin) vMul lin a lag ht a( Long ford) (O’ Con­nor Park, Tull a more ,1.30– Live on T G 4)

The im­mense con­trast be­tween a small ru­ral club and one of Dublin’ s sub­ur­ban be­he­moths – where re­port­edly a man from Derry in­tro­duced two mem­bers to each other at the an­nual Seven s–has be­come the main nar­ra­tive but Mull in a lag ht a area hardy col­lec­tive with plenty of ex­pe­ri­ence in the AI B Le inst er cham­pi­onship and a port­fo­lio of de­cent per­for­mance sin the past three years. They beat St L oman’ s from West me a thin 2016 and lost nar­rowly to them last year be­fore L oman’ s should have won the Le inst er ti­tle in­stead of melt­ing down. They were com­pet­i­tive with St Vin­cent’s two years ago even if the re­sult got away from them – un­re­flec­tive ly–in the end. Given the flaws in Kil­macud’s semi-fi­nal vic­tory, the Long­ford cham­pi­ons – the first from the county to get to this stage – may well feel that the odds are a lit­tle un­for­giv­ing but there’s more in the Dublin cham­pi­ons than they showed against Port la oise, whose clever use of the ball and sharp goal fin­ish­ing was un­der­mined by in­ac­cu­rate point shoot­ing. Crokes have been more goal-proof than ap­peared two weeks ago and they will want to re­trieve that form as R ian Brady and Jay son Matthews have been sharp in the full for­ward line. Both C ian O’ Sul­li­van and Paul Mann ion were slightly sub­dued against Port la oise and it would be ex­pected that they can de­liver bet­ter in the fi­nal. Over­all, Crokes have to panel strength to see this through.

Ver­dict: Kil­macud Crokes O’ Byrne Cup( Le inst er SF) round one Car­lowvWest­meath (Net watch Cullen Park ,2.0) Walsh Cup (Le­in­ster SH) round one Of­fa­lyvLaois (Birr,2.0)

Paul Man­nion: will be ex­pected ■ to de­liver for Kil­macud Crokes

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