GAA weekend previews: Throw-in times, TV details, predictions
There is plenty to play for this weekend in the final round of Munster, Leinster and Joe McDonagh games as hurling's round robins reach their conclusion.
In the Munster Senior Hurling Championship, Clare are already through to the All-Ireland series – but Cork, Waterford and Tipperary all remain in the race to qualify for a place in a provisional All-Ireland quarter-final.
In Leinster, Galway and Kilkenny could have a major say in the All-Ireland provided they don't face unlikely defeats to Dublin and Wexford respectively.
There is also plenty on the line in all three final round games in the Joe McDonagh Cup, with Meath aiming to avoid relegation with a win over Down – while Kildare head into the Christy Ring Cup final in the tier below as hot favourites.
GAA confirm dates and venues for Tailteann Cup Round 1 fixtures
THE GAA HAVE confirmed the fixture details for Round 1 of the Tailteann Cup on the weekend of 28-29 May.
The four games in the northern section of the new football championship will take place on Saturday 28 May.
There will be live-streaming coverage on the GAAGO service for the game between Leitrim and Antrim.
The three matches in the southern section will then take place on the Sunday afternoon, 29 May.
This weekend’s two preliminary round games, Wicklow against Waterford on Saturday and Wexford against Offaly on Sunday, will determine the last pairing in the southern section for Round 1.
Kilkenny v Wexford, UPMC Nowlan Park, 6pm, (F. Horgan, Tipperary) Live Sky Sports.
Darragh Egan has spoken of his Wexford team being “a dangerous animal” if they come through this game but if they are the wounded kind here Kilkenny won’t need any invitation to shed more blood. Egan is hoping that muscle memory kicks in for a Wexford team who shouldn’t stand back from a team they have bettered in recent years but they still appear to be falling between two game-plans.
Rory O’Connor and Lee Chin are match-winners, Diarmuid O’Keeffe’s industry is usually second to none but Wexford didn’t discover the type of players Kilkenny did earlier this year. Wexford need goals but have been brutally shy in that department against bigger teams. Needless to say, what happened in Mullingar won’t help their morale either.
As poor as they were in the second half against Kilkenny in Parnell Park, Dublin will take some encouragement from their decent record against Mattie Kenny’s native county during his tenure. They could lose this game and still make the preliminary quarter-finals but won’t want to be relying on events on Noreside. Galway have been improving steadily since giving away an opening day win against Wexford. They face a team here who can go toe to toe with them physically but don’t have as much of a cutting edge.
We’ve mentioned before Laois’ habit of following poor performances with vital victories. Westmeath must be wary of their opponents’ ability to turn it on when it matters. Antrim experienced that in the league earlier this year and Joe Fortune’s men can’t get too ahead of themselves with that point earned at home to Wexford. A draw would be enough for them to stay up and in a game of tight margins on a tight pitch that may be the result.
Down started as they meant to go on but three championship defeats followed. They can bookend the campaign with a second win and avoid relegation.
Kerry will hope Antrim, having already qualified for the final, will be distracted here but they rarely are in Belfast. Perhaps Kerry win but in the grand scheme of things it is unlikely to be enough.
Providing that bruising win over Kerry in Tralee didn’t take too much out of them, Offaly can take their place in the McDonagh Cup final, which would mark a rerun of the famous 1989 All-Ireland semi-final against Antrim.
Winning their five round games by an average of almost 20 points per outing, Kildare go into this final with confidence sky high. Thirty points better than Mayo in the competition opener, the margin won’t be as much here but the result should be. Verdict: Kildare.