SFC previews: Eight do-or-die ties

June 08, 2018

Aidan O'Shea's Mayo will play Limerick in the opening round of the All-Ireland SFC qualifiers at the Gaelic Grounds where he made his 100th appearance for the county against Cork in 2017.

The All-Ireland senior football championship qualifiers get underway this weekend, meaning its knock-out football for 16 teams. Here are our previews:


Saturday, June 9th

All-Ireland SFC qualifiers round 1

Wexford v Waterford, Innovate Wexford Park, 1.30pm

The early throw-in on Saturday comes at Innovate Wexford Park as Wexford and Waterford clash for the very first time in the All-Ireland senior football championship.

The last two meetings in the National League came in 2017 and 2016 and were both close affairs which went Wexford's way - 1-9 to 0-10 and 0-12 to 0-11, respectively.

Nonetheless, the Model men welcome the Deise as 2/7 favourites this weekend and should have enough within their ranks to live up to those odds.

Verdict: Wexford

Derry v Kildare, Owenbeg, 3pm

Kildare went down to a shock defeat at the hands of Carlow last time out and have been handed a tricky assignment in heading up to Owenbeg this weekend.

Derry may have been relegated to Division 4 in the spring but they put in a decent performance against Donegal in the Ulster SFC quarter-final and will be confident of another one here.

The last qualifier meeting between these two in Croke Park saw the Lilywhites win out by 0-19 to 0-13.

A much closer margin at the finish should be expected in Dungiven.

Verdict: Kildare

Meath v Tyrone, Pairc Tailteann, 5pm - SKY

This was the stand out tie when the draw was made two weeks ago and one that presents a genuine banana-skin for Mickey Harte's Tyrone side.

Division 1 National League top-scorer Lee Brennan and Mark Bradley are both out injured for the trip to Navan, while Peter Harte is suspended and Cathal McCarron is left out of the Red Hands' starting 15.

Meath have had a couple of defections since the league ended and were upset in Longford in their championship opener, leaving Andy McEntee's men with it all to do when the recently dethroned Ulster champions come to town.

Verdict: Tyrone

Limerick v Mayo, Gaelic Grounds, 6pm

This is not the draw Limerick would have wanted after going down to Clare in a heavy defeat in their Munster championship opener.

Mayo have been waiting the best part of a month for some competitive action since their narrow loss to Galway in Connacht and have welcomed former Footballer of the Year Lee Keegan back from injury since that time.

It's difficult to see how the Shannonsiders will upset 12/1 odds against the beaten All-Ireland finalists of the past two years.

Verdict: Mayo

Offaly v Antrim, Bord na Mona O'Connor Park, 6pm

Offaly's woes this season took a turn for the worst when they lost to Wicklow in Round 1 of the Leinster championship, leading to the departure of manager Stephen Wallace just eight months into his term.

Nonetheless, the Faithful men are still 4/6 favourites for Antrim's visit to Tullamore this weekend in what will be the first championship meeting between the two counties.

The Saffrons were second best throughout their Ulster championship tie with Down last month and will view Saturday evening as an ideal opportunity to bounce back from that seven-point defeat in Newry.

Verdict: Draw

Wicklow v Cavan, Joule Park, 6pm

Cavan welcome back a fully-fit Dara McVeety for Saturday's clash with Wicklow in what is set to be the third meeting in the qualifiers between these two counties.

The Breffni men's last summer trip down to Aughrim ended in a shock 1-12 to 0-8 loss in 2009 and defeat here would be an even bigger upset, considering that Mattie McGleenan's men sealed a promotion to Division 1 during the spring.

Wicklow took a scalp on opening weekend in the Leinster championship in the form of Offaly, but the visitors should still have enough to get the job done on this occasion.

Verdict: Cavan

Westmeath v Armagh, TEG Cusack Park, 7pm

These two cross swords again in the qualifiers once more with their season on the line.

Last year, Armagh edged a battle down at TEG Cusack Park by 0-12 to 1-7 and recent results would suggest that the Mullingar venue is a happy hunting ground for the Orchard men, having recorded a nine-point there this past February on their way to promotion to Division 2.

Minus the services of captain John Heslin from the start, Westmeath could take few positives from last month's defeat to Laois and could well struggle to bounce back against Kieran McGeeney's men.

Verdict: Armagh


Sunday, June 10th

Leinster SFC semi-finals

Laois v Carlow, Croke Park, 2pm

A repeat of the National League Division 4 final at the same venue and John Sugrue's Laois side will be hoping for a repeat of the result come the final whistle at headquarters on Sunday afternoon.

This one sees Carlow looking for their first championship win over the O'Moore men since 1988 - it's also the third competitive meeting between the two teams this season.

Paul Broderick (1-19) has been leading the way in the scoring stakes for the Barrowsiders, while Paul Kingston's hat-trick of goals against Westmeath the last day has him on 3-5 so far this summer for Laois.

If Kingston and Co can get going in Croker then Turlough O'Brien's defence will have to truly rise to the occasion while making sure that the constant supply gets up to Broderick and his fellow inside men.

A win for Carlow puts them into their first Leinster SFC final in 74 years but, going on form, it's their neighbours that get the nod here.

Verdict: Laois

Dublin v Longford, Croke Park, 4pm - RTE

Denis Connerton's Longford side tackle the juggernaut from the capital on Sunday looking to defy 25/1 odds at Croke Park.

The Midlanders have earned their right to be exactly where they are as well, having sent Meath into the qualifiers by defying the underdog tag on their own home turf in the Leinster quarter-finals.

Should they upset the colossal odds against Dublin then they'll be competing in their first provincial decider since 1968, but it's hard to envision how they'll pull it off.

The Dubs are out for an incredible eighth consecutive triumph in the eastern province and a 13th final berth in 14 seasons for good measure.

Jim Gavin's men hit 4-25 past Wicklow the last day and while Longford should limit that sort of damage, it's looking like they're qualifier bound after this weekend.

Verdict: Dublin

Ulster SFC semi-final

Donegal v Down, Clones, 4pm

Is has been quite an Ulster championship so far and Down will be hoping to continue the trend of upsets on Sunday when they battle it out with Donegal in Clones.

It was at this juncture last year that the Mourne men ripped the script with a surprise defeat of Monaghan and they'll have every belief that they can repeat the trick and earn a first championship win over the Tir Chonaill County in eight years.

Donegal have already sent both Cavan and Derry into the qualifiers this summer and are 2/7 favourites over Eamonn Burns' men, with the likes of Michael Murphy, Michael Langan and Jamie Brennan all showing fine form thus far in the early part of the summer.

If Declan Bonner's men click they are very capable of running up a big score, especially with Paddy McBrearty yet to catch fire in this campaign.

To make it back-to-back Ulster finals, Down will need to nullify those threats while also ensuring constant supply to Connaire Harrison and Co inside.

Verdict: Donegal

All-Ireland SFC qualifier round 1

London v Louth, Ruislip, 2pm

This is a tricky assignment for a Louth side that have been really struggling all season long.

In fact, the Wee County are still awaiting their first competitive win under Pete McGrath after taking a hammering at the hands of Carlow in Round 1 of the Leinster championship.

London's display in their Connacht SFC defeat to Sligo had plenty of positives and they'll be confident of bouncing back with home advantage in their corner for this one.

Verdict: London

Follow our match tracker this weekend for a feast of action in both the football and hurling championships with live coverage from 15 games across both codes.

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