Saturday 17 December

All-Ireland club IHC semi-final

Tooreen (Mayo) v Liatroim (Down), Kingspan Breffni, 1pm

Mayo and Connacht champions Tooreen will be hoping to go one better than they did last year when they play Down and Ulster champions Liatroim in the All-Ireland Club IHC semi-final.

They reached the same stage of last year’s competition but were beaten by eventual champions Naas after a great battle. Considering how well Naas performed in this year’s senior Leinster championship, that makes Tooreen’s showing that day even more impressive.

The Mayo side are arguably stronger this year than last year with players like Liam Lavin, Oisin Greally, and Joe Boyle coming into the team and making a big impact.

Most of this Tooreen panel also played in the 2017 All-Ireland semi-final so have a lot of experienced banked that should stand them in good stead.

Liatroim will present a stiff challenge, though. They’re the first ever Down team to win an Ulster Intermediate Hurling Championship and are backboned by the excellent McCrickard brothers.

Sunday 18 December

All-Ireland club SHC semi-finals

Ballygunner (Waterford) v Ballyhale Shamrocks (Kilkenny), Croke Park, 3.30pm – TG4

Rarely has a club match been as eagerly anticipated as this one. These two teams produced an epic All-Ireland Final last year, and there’s ever reason to believe this match will be just as high-octane.

Ballygunner won last year’s Final courtesy of an injury-time Harry Ruddle goal, and you can be sure that Ballyhale have been itching for this rematch ever since that day.

There are so many match-ups that will be worth the price of admission alone – Barry Coughlan v Colin Fennelly, Philip Mahony v TJ Reid, Pauric Mahony v Richie Reid to name just a few.

A Ballyhale attack featuring stellar talents like Reid, Fennelly, Eoin Cody, and Adrian Mullen is capable of ripping any team apart, but Ballygunner have arguably shown the better form on the way to this match.

They’re tighter at the back than Ballyhale, and will believe that in-form corner-forwards Dessie Hutchinson and Patrick Fitzgerald can do a number on the Kilkenny team’s full-back line.

The Waterford side tend to dominate opposition in the middle third where their relentless work ethic is difficult to resist.

If Ballygunner get on top here again, then not even Ballyhale’s impressive firepower will be enough to see them through.

St Thomas’ (Galway) v Dunloy Cuchullains (Antrim), Croke Park, 1.30pm – TG4

A hugely experienced St. Thomas’ proved they still have plenty of petrol in the tank by winning their fifth Galway SHC in a row after a hard-fought replay against Loughrea.

Eight members of the current panel won All-Ireland medals back in 2013 but clearly their appetite for success is unabated.

They’ll be desperate to get back to a first Final since 2019 having lost two All-Ireland semi-finals in a row.

Their cause won’t be helped if James Regan and Shane Cooney fail to recover from hamstring injuries, but this St. Thomas’ team have a happy habit of triumphing over adversity.

Conor Cooney, Eanna Burke, and Mark Caulfield are all in good scoring form and that combined with a miserly defence that has a great record of not conceding goals means the Galway side are a formidable force.

Dunloy are appearing in their first All-Ireland semi-final since 2010 and come into the match on the back of a very impressive win over a fine Slaughtneil team.

Conal Cunning is the main man in attack, but the Antrim team have quality all over the field with the likes of Ryan McGarry, Kevin Molloy, Keelan Molloy and Sean Elliott.

There won’t be much in this one, but the experience of St. Thomas’ could give them an edge.

All-Ireland club IHC semi-final

Monaleen (Limerick) v Bray Emmets (Wicklow), O’Connor Park, 1pm

Monaleen were very impressive Munster champions, beating a fancied Roscrea of Tipperary in the provincial decider.

Former Limerick panelists Andrew La Touche Cosgrave and Mark O’Dwyer give them great presence in attack, while a generation of younger players who’ve come through the Limerick Academy give them a lot of athleticism and ability all around the park.

Bray Emmets created history last weekend by becoming the first Wicklow team to ever win a Leinster Intermediate Championship, and if they can come back down to earth they’ll provide Monaleen with a serious challenge.

The likes of Christy Moorehouse, John Henderson, and Mark Lennon are brilliant hurlers as well as natural leaders, and will lead charge again on Sunday.

All-Ireland club JHC semi-finals

Ballygiblin (Cork) v Horeswood (Wexford), Dungarvan, 1pm

Defeated in last year’s All-Ireland Final by a single point, Ballygiblin of Cork are just one win away from making it back to headquarters.

They were very impressive winners in Munster, defeating both Colligan of Waterford and St Kieran’s of Limerick emphatically.

Mark Keane anchors the team brilliantly from centre-back, and Joseph O’Sullivan and Darragh Flynn give them a real cutting edge in attack.

They’ll go into this match as favourites, but Horeswood will be no pushovers. They showed great character in the Leinster Final to come back from eight points down to beat Commercials of Dublin by the minimum.

Cathal Parker, Sean Nolan, and Conor Foley are key men for the Wexford side and can dictate a game if allowed.

Easkey (Sligo) v Kilburn Gaels (Britain), Darver, 1pm

Easkey’s rise to prominence has been sensational. Back in 2018 they fielded an adult senior hurling team for the first time in 35 years, and by 2020 they were Sligo champions.

They’ve since made it three county titles in a row then created history by defeating Galway champions Ballygar in the Connacht Final.

Andrew Kilcullen is a forward of the very highest calbire and midfielder Finnian Cawley is a real driving force for the Sligo side.

If the Sligo club can contain Kilburn danger-men Conor Nelson and Donal Reale, they’re good enough to make another major statement here.