The All-Ireland football championship really kicks into action this weekend with clashes in all four provinces. Here are our previews:
Saturday, May 11th
Leinster SFC round 1
Wicklow v Kildare, Netwatch Cullen Park, 7pm
Kildare are carrying a couple of knocks into this one as captain Eoin Doyle, Paul Cribbin and Kevin Flynn have all be ruled out for the Netwatch Cullen Park clash.
There are doubts over the availability of young star Jimmy Hyland, Kevin O’Callaghan, Fionn Dowling and Chris Healy, which could serve to level the playing field a bit for a Wicklow side which are down as 10/1 underdogs for this weekend.
Garden County boss John Evans says he’s confident that his players perform to their full they can trouble the Lilywhites, whom will be looking to avoid an early banana-skin which saw them slip up against Carlow in last year’s Leinster quarter-finals.
Munster SFC quarter-finals
Tipperary v Limerick, Semple Stadium, 7pm
This will be the first Munster championship clash between these two since 2014 when Tipperary earned a six-point win over their neighbours.
Limerick haven’t won a game in the southern province since 2012 and they’re 10/1 outsiders to do so on Saturday, having finished second bottom in Division 4 of the National League with five defeats in seven games.
The same amount of losses relegated Tipp from Division 2 but with a couple of aces returned to the pack, they should surely have enough to keep it to script here.
Clare v Waterford, Cusack Park, 7pm
Clare battled for their lives during the National League to remain in a very competitive Division 2 and now come into the summer’s championship looking a safe bet to open with a win.
Banner boss Colm Collins has stressed ahead of this one that it would be remiss of them to take their opponents for granted, stating that they will be “treating Waterford like we treat every other team”.
The Deise County’s last win in the Munster SFC came against Clare in 2010, but with the latter boasting the likes of Gary Brennan, David Tubridy and Keelan Sexton they should open with a win this weekend.
Sunday, May 12th
Connacht SFC quarter-final
Roscommon v Leitrim, Dr Hyde Park, 3.30pm
Roscommon’s championship opener certainly looks tricky one this year give the performances of Terry Hyland’s Leitrim side throughout the National League.
Promotion from Division 4 earned Leitrim a first Croke Park appearance in 13 years and how they’d love to hit the headlines again here by upsetting the Rossies on their own home turf.
Both managers revealed their respective line-ups on Thursday for this one, with Anthony Cunningham handing a debut in the primrose and blue to Kerry native Conor Cox while Hyland has gone with four debutants, opting to hold the experienced Emlyn Mulligan in reserve.
Leinster SFC round 1
Wexford v Louth, Innovate Wexford Park, 3pm
Wexford and Louth cross swords for the first time in the Leinster championship since 2013 on Sunday and it should be an intriguing battle at Innovate Wexford Park.
The Model men are reporting a clean bill of health for this one and you get the feeling they’ll need a full pick against a Louth side which have been marked as 8/15 favourites.
The Wee County haven’t beaten Wexford in a provincial championship match since 1980 and this weekend could well see them ending their long wait as manager Wayne Kierans looks for a winning start to summer.
The winners here earn a quarter-final date with Dublin on May 25th.
Meath v Offaly, Pairc Tailteann, 3pm
It’s nine years since these two meet in the Leinster championship and it was Meath that went on to lift the JJ Delaney Cup that summer.
The Royals came close to lifting silverware at Croke Park again this past March when they fell to a Michael Murphy-inspired comeback which led Donegal to Division 2 honours.
Nonetheless, promotion was achieved and manager Andy McEntee will be hoping both the experiences of spring – both good and bad – can stand to his side as they bid for a spot in the Super 8s this summer.
Offaly struggled in Division 3 but managed to avoid relegation and will no doubt be well prepared by John Maughan as he embarks on his first Leinster championship occasion as bainisteoir.
Ulster SFC preliminary round
Tyrone v Derry, Healy Park, 4pm - BBC deferred
The Ulster senior football championship gets underway at 4pm on Sunday as Tyrone welcome Derry to Omagh for a good old-fashioned derby opener.
The Oak Leafers couldn’t have asked for a better league campaign this past spring and Tyrone boss Mickey Harte has since paid them respect by stating that they were in a false position and “never a Division 4 team”.
Harte himself revealed his hand last night (Thursday) and it shows three debutants – two of which are in defence in the form of Michael Cassidy (right half-back) and Ben McDonnell (centre half-back), while Brian Kennedy will make his bow at centre-half forward.
A full-forward line of Cathal McShane, Peter Harte and Conor Meyler gives the Derry defence plenty to contend with on Sunday and may well be what makes the difference when all’s said and done.
The victors at Healy Park will play Antrim in the last eight on May 25th.
Be sure and keep up to date with all the action as it happens this weekend by following our live match tracker.Tweet