SFC previews: Three more set for Super 8s

June 22, 2018

Fermanagh will bid for their maiden Ulster SFC title on Sunday when they face Donegal in the final at St Tiernach's Park, Clones.
©INPHO/Tommy Dickson.

There are three provincial finals down for decision, as well as eight Round 2 qualifiers in an action-packed weekend of football. Here are our previews for all 11 games:


Saturday, June 23rd

Munster SFC final

Cork v Kerry, Pairc Ui Chaoimh, 7pm - RTE

The first of this weekend's provincial finals sees the age old rivalry down south getting renewed as Kerry look to defend their Munster crown against Cork at Pairc Ui Chaoimh.

It's set to be the first meeting between these two at the Cork venue since 2014 and the Kingdom will be travelling as comfortable favourites (3/10) off the back of their whopping 22-point win over Clare the last day.

Cork have welcomed back a few key members since concluding a disappointing league campaign in the spring and it showed towards the end of last month when they toppled Tipperary with a 1-17 to 0-9 hammering of the Premier men in Thurles, where Luke Connolly helped himself to 0-10 (0-5 from play) over the 70 minutes.

The Nemo Rangers sharpshooter will be looking for a similar sort of outing as the Leesiders look to inflict their neighbours with a first championship defeat since 2012, denying them an 80th Munster title in the process.

However, with Eamonn Fitzmaurice poised to start his deadly inside line of David Clifford, Paul Geaney and James O'Donoghue once more, it's difficult to see how the home side will prevent the irreversible damage come Saturday evening.

Verdict: Kerry

All-Ireland SFC qualifiers round 2

Waterford v Monaghan, Fraher Field, 2pm

This is set to be the first meeting between these two teams in the All-Ireland senior football championship and the Farney army will surely view it as the ideal opportunity for their team to get their campaign back on track.

After being foiled by Fermanagh late on last time out, Malachy O'Rourke's team will be looking for a business-like performance against 11/1 Waterford in the early throw-in on Saturday and - all going according to plan - they should deliver it.

The Deise shocked Wexford with a fully deserved 3-14 to 1-18 win in Round 1, but this surely will be too tall an order for the hosts to pull off in Dungarvan.

Verdict: Monaghan

Tipperary v Mayo, Semple Stadium, 5pm - Sky Sports

This one's the pick of the weekend's qualifiers on paper, as Mayo look to gather momentum for another summer run towards the business end of the championship.

The Westerners completely crushed Limerick last time out while Tipp suffered the effects of a week-long turnaround against Cork by going down on a 1-17 to 0-9 score-line to the Rebels at Semple Stadium, leaving their Munster final hopes in smoke.

Now Stephen Rochford's men come to the famous Thurles venue for what should be a fascinating tie, as they try and repeat the result from the counties' 2016 All Ireland semi-final meeting.

Verdict: Mayo

Carlow v Tyrone, Netwatch Cullen Park, 5pm

Not too many would have envisaged Carlow enjoying a deeper run in their respective provincial championship than Tyrone at the start of the campaign, and they'll be out to make life difficult for Mickey Harte's men this weekend.

The Red Hands came through their first round qualifier against Meath by the skin of their teeth two weeks ago in Navan (after extra time) and head further south east this time round looking to end Turlough O'Brien's team's season.

Lee Brennan and Mark Bradley are still both side-lined for this Round 2 tie, so expect Connor McAliskey to inflict the hosts' defence with damage if Harte's men are to keep it to script at Newatch Cullen Park.

Verdict: Tyrone

Cavan v Down, Brewster Park, 5pm

Down boss Eamonn Burns has made three changes to his side for this one, including bringing in Sean Dornan into his attack to replace the injured Donal O'Hare.

Both these sides went down by considerable margins to Donegal in Ulster but it's Cavan that have since had the opportunity to bounce back with a 14-point win over Wicklow down in Aughrim.

Brewster Park stages this one due to Kingspan Breffni's unavailability and, with a clean bill of health, Mattie McGleenan's men get the nod to pick up their first win of 2018 at the Enniskillen venue.

Verdict: Cavan

Sligo v Armagh, Markievicz Park, 6pm

Armagh boss Kieran McGeeney has said that Saturday's qualifier clash at Markievicz Park between his team and Sligo is "a 50-50 game" as far as he's concerned.

When these two met in the opening round of the league back in late January, McGeeney's side were 14-point winners over the Yeats men but the former All-Ireland winning captain cites this clash as a whole new ball game.

It has the potential to be a real banana-skin for the Orchard men but they were impressive in spells against Westmeath the last day and should come through a tough one here on Saturday.

Verdict: Armagh

Longford v Kildare, Pearse Park, 7pm

This Leinster derby could well end up being the closest of the weekend's qualifiers when all's said and done.

Longford's record in the backdoor in recent years means they'll be heading into this one confident with home advantage to boot against a Kildare side which recorded its first competitive win in a year two weeks ago against Derry.

However, it should be noted that the last summer meeting between these two sides saw the Lilywhites score a massive 19-point victory over the Midlanders and while the margin will be nowhere near that on Saturday night, the visitors still have the potential in their attack to light things up at Pearse Park.

Verdict: Kildare

Leitrim v Louth, Pairc Sean MacDiarmada, 7pm

Leitrim have reportedly had a few squad departures since their Connacht semi-final defeat to Roscommon, but, with home soil in their favour, they'll still head into this one confident against a Louth side which have been struggling all season.

The Wee County booked their first competitive win of 2018 last time out against London and are 8/13 favourites to double their tally in Carrick-on-Shannon on Saturday night.

It's set to be a tight affair though and the winners will likely be heading into Round 3 as rank underdogs to move within a game of the Super 8s.

Verdict: Louth


Sunday, June 24th

Leinster SFC final

Laois v Dublin, Croke Park, 4pm - RTE

Sunday marks a first Leinster final appearance for Laois in 11 years and John Sugrue's team have a mammoth task on their hands in trying to deny Dublin their eighth successive provincial crown.

The Dubs' only injury concern for Sunday's decider at Croke Park is over that of captain Stephen Cluxton, who is said to be still suffering the effects of the knock he received from Longford's James McGivney during the first-half of his team's semi-final victory over the Midlanders.

Should the Parnells 'keeper miss out this weekend then it would mark his first absence for the Dubs in a championship outing since his suspension in the 2004 Leinster quarter-final against Westmeath and likely mean a start for deputy Evan Comerford this weekend.

Regardless, it's hard to see anything but the All-Ireland champions dictating the terms here against a Laois side that will be without their own skipper in Stephen Attride, who suffered a skull fracture in the four-point win over Carlow.

The O'Moore men are looking for their first championship win since 2003 against this opposition and the bad news for them is their counterparts from the capital happen to be a once in a generation outfit at the moment.

Verdict: Dublin

Ulster SFC final

Fermanagh v Donegal, Clones, 2pm - RTE/BBC2 NI

Sunday will mark the first Ulster SFC final meeting between Donegal and Fermanagh, with the latter vying for their inaugural crown up north.

While some might see this as 'the Rory Gallagher final', the Ernesiders will simply view is as their best opportunity in a decade to finally take home that elusive Anglo-Celt Cup.

Donegal are heavy favourites here at 1/5 and rightfully so. Declan Bonner's team have swatted aside Cavan, Derry and Down to get here and their last outing against the Mourne men saw them winning by a 13-point margin off the back of a splendid display in Clones.

Both Armagh and Monaghan have fallen on Fermanagh's sword so far this summer and you can be sure that Gallagher's men will be deploying more defensive lines to deny the likes of Paddy McBrearty, Jamie Brennan and Michael Murphy, who has been immense so far this summer, paths towards goal.

That should keep the margin tighter than some might expect it to be at St Tiernach's Park, but it's hard to look beyond the expected outcome given the Tir Chonaill men's form so far in this competition.

Verdict: Donegal

All-Ireland SFC Qualifiers Round 2

Offaly v Clare, O'Connor Park, 1.30pm

Offaly revived their season last time out with a convincing eight-point win over Antrim which marked Paul Rouse's first win since taking charge of the Faifthful men a little over a month ago.

The early throw-in in Tullamore between Rouse's charges and Clare will mark the third ever championship meeting between the counties and thus far it's 2-0 to Offaly.

This time round the Banner men are fancied and, with aces such as David Tubridy and Eoin Cleary in their attack, they should have the firepower to edge through to Round 3.

Verdict: Clare

Follow our match tracker for a bumper weekend of action including three provincial finals and eight qualifier games from the All-Ireland football championship.

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