Leinster SHC final
Kilkenny v Galway, Croke Park, 6.15pm – RTÉ2
All-Ireland SHC round 2
Wexford v Clare, MW Hire O’Moore Park, 2pm
Tipperary v Cork, LIT Gaelic Grounds, 4pm
Joe McDonagh Cup round 3
Antrim v Kerry, Corrigan Park, 1.30pm
Christy Ring Cup semi-finals
Down v Offaly, Pairc Esler, 1.30pm
Kildare v Roscommon, St Conleth’s Park, 1.30pm
Nicky Rackard Cup semi-finals
Mayo v Leitrim, Elverys MacHale Park, 1.30pm
Donegal v Tyrone, O’Donnell Park, 1.30pm
Munster SHC final
Limerick v Waterford, Semple Stadium, 4pm
Kilkenny v Galway, live on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player from 5.45pm.
Wexford v Clare, live on GAAGO (worldwide).
Tipperary v Cork, live on Sky Sports Mix (Sky channel 416, Virgin Media 409/439).
Limerick v Waterford, live on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player from 3pm.
Kildare v Roscommon, Mayo v Leitrim and Donegal v Tyrone live on TG4 YouTube.
Highlights on The Sunday Game, RTÉ2, 9.30pm.
Live commentaries on Wexford v Clare, Tipperary v Cork and Kilkenny v Galway on Radio 1’s Saturday Sport and updates on Antrim v Kerry. Live commentary on Limerick v Waterford on Sunday Sport.
Live blogs on RTE.ie/sport and the RTÉ News app, video highlights on social media.
Saturday: Outbreaks of rain will continue, persistent and heavy for a time in the early afternoon. Sunny spells and scattered showers will follow as the rain clears in the afternoon. Highest temperatures of 12 or 13 degrees.
Sunday: Widespread showers and some longer spells of rain and risks of hail and isolated thunderstorms. There will be good sunny spells though. Highest temperatures of 9 to 12 degrees in light to moderate southerly winds.
More at met.ie.
The hurling championship reaches a ‘savage intensity’ this weekend with both provincial finals and the final two rounds of the qualifiers.
After this we will have quarter-finals (provincial runners-up v qualifier winners) next weekend and the semi-finals on the weekend of 28/29 November.
A winner on the day is required in all the weekend’s fixtures. We haven’t even had extra-time yet, with Kilkenny’s one point-win over Dublin and Clare’s defeat of Laois by the minimum the closest games to a draw.
Maybe we could even see a championship penalty shootout for the first time.
Leinster under lights
It’s a familiar pairing under the novelty of floodlights as Kilkenny take on Galway in the Leinster final for the sixth time since the Tribesmen joined the province in 2009.
Two years ago, Galway comfortably won a replay after the Cats had salvaged a draw first day out, and they can level the record this weekend.
If Galway do win, they will hope it’s not a repeat of 2012 and 2015 when they beat Kilkenny in the Leinster final then lost to them in the big one.
Galway were surprisingly comfortable winners (13 points) over Wexford in the semi-final, confounding expectations that first-year manager Shane O’Neill’s men would struggle against the reigning champions.
Fintan Burke starred at full-back on his debut while Brian Concannon (1-04) and Conor Whelan (0-04) were among 10 different scorers as Galway emphasised they are not just a Joe Show this year.
Kilkenny are a bit of an enigma. A team that reached the All-Ireland final last year but are considered less likely to challenge than Limerick or Galway, two sides that didn’t.
They blew Dublin out of the water in the first half of their Leinster semi-final, leading 3-13 to 0-07 at half-time, but only managed seven points in the second half themselves.
That could perhaps be attributed to a lack of match practice against a team that had played the week before, but the way Dublin were subsequently outclassed by Cork raises concerns.
TJ Reid bagged 1-04 from an unusual full-forward role the last day and will need support again from the likes of Colin Fennelly, Eoin Cody and Walter Walsh if Kilkenny are to beat Galway for the first time in four years.
It’s Brian Cody’s 21st championship game against the Westerners and O’Neill will be the eighth manager he has faced since 2000.
He makes four changes to the team that edged Dublin, Tommy Walsh, Richie Leahy, Conor Beowne and Martin Keoghan coming in. Ciaran Wallace and Richie Reid drop to the bench while Paddy Deegan and Billy Ryan (who scored 1-01) are left out of the squad completely.
Fintan Burke and his namesake Dáithi are injury concerns but are both named in the Galway team, Fintan shifting to wing-back with Aidan Harte missing. Fintan’s cousin, midfielder David Burke, remains out while Niall Burke replaces Jason Flynn at full-forward.
Kilkenny: Eoin Murphy; Conor Delaney, Huw Lawlor, Tommy Walsh; Cillian Buckley, Padraig Walsh, Conor Fogarty; Richie Leahy, Conor Browne; John Donnelly, Martin Keoghan, Walter Walsh; TJ Reid, Eoin Cody, Colin Fennelly.
Galway: Éanna Murphy; Seán Loftus, Daithí Burke, Shane Cooney; Fintan Burke, Gearóid McInerney, Joseph Cooney; Pádraic Mannion, Johnny Coen; Conor Cooney, Cathal Mannion, Joe Canning; Conor Whelan, Niall Burke, Brian Concannon.
LAST FIVE CHAMPIONSHIP CLASHES
2019: Galway 3-20 Kilkenny 2-22 (Leinster round-robin)
2018: Galway 1-28 Kilkenny 3-15 (Leinster final replay)
2018: Galway 0-18 Kilkenny 0-18 (Leinster final)
2018: Galway 1-22 Kilkenny 2-11 (Leinster round-robin)
2016: Kilkenny 1-26 Galway 0-22 (Leinster final)
It’s a much more novel combination in Munster as Limerick and Waterford contest the final for just the fourth time in history and second since the 1930s.
In 2007, Dan Shanahan bagged a hat-trick for the Déise but Limerick got their revenge in the All-Ireland semi-final thanks to doubles from Andrew O’Shaughnessy and Donie Ryan.
Waterford are already exceeding expectations in their first year under former Tipperary U21 boss Liam Cahill.
The win over Cork – their first in Munster since 2016 – was probably the biggest surprise of the championship so far and was far more comfortable than the four-point margin suggested.
Former soccer professional Dessie Hutchinson scored three points from play in an impressive championship debut and Tadhg de Burca cleaned up as a sweeper – will Limerick allow him the same freedom?
Stopping John Kiely’s men from retaining the Munster Cup would be a huge achievement.
They bullied both Clare and Tipperary, winning by 10 points and nine points respectively, and don’t seem to have been weakened by the absence of Mike Casey and Richie English (on the bench this time) in the full-back line. Their forwards are all scoring, as are the substitutes who replace them.
David Reidy starts for Darragh O’Donovan in the only change to the team that beat Tipp.
Ominously, John Kiely told RTÉ Sport this week that he thought they could play a lot better:
“The first day against Clare in the first half it was 0-15 apiece,” he said. “There wasn’t much in it and we didn’t really get into a rhythm that we’d be happy with. We conceded 17 scores to one individual player (Tony Kelly) on the day.
“Against Tipperary, up until the 65th minute maybe, there was only two scores in it and Tipperary had a couple of chances.”
For his part, Cahill admits that the 14 first-half wides Waterford hit against Cork wouldn’t cut it against Limerick and namechecked Gearóid Hegarty, Tom Morrissey, and Cian Lynch as the men they would need to stop.
“They’re going to take a lot of watching. If we can win those battles, we’ll give ourselves a chance. Finals are finals and anything can happen.”
Cahill has named the same team that beat Cork, though it suggests Austin Gleeson will swap the wing-back jersey for full-forward with Kevin Moran.
We can expect Waterford to challenge Limerick physically more than Cork or Tipp did. Whether that will be enough remains to be seen.
Limerick: Nickie Quaid; Sean Finn, Dan Morrissey, Barry Nash; Diarmaid Byrnes, Declan Hannon, Kyle Hayes; Cian Lynch, William O’Donoghue; Gearoid Hegarty, David Reidy, Tom Morrissey; Graeme Mulcahy, Aaron Gillane, Peter Casey.
Waterford: Stephen O’Keeffe; Shane Fives, Conor Prunty, Shane McNulty; Calum Lyons, Tadhg De Burca, Kevin Moran; Jamie Barron, Jake Dillon; Jack Fagan, Kieran Bennett, Stephen Bennett; Dessie Hutchinson, Austin Gleeson, Jack Prendergast.
LAST FIVE CHAMPIONSHIP MEETINGS
2019: Limerick 2-24 Waterford 0-10 (Munster round-robin)
2018: Limerick 2-26 Waterford 1-16 (Munster round-robin)
2011: Waterford 3-15 Limerick 3-14 (Munster semi-final)
2009: Waterford 0-25 Limerick 0-17 (Munster semi-final replay)
2009: Waterford 0-11 Limerick 1-8 (Munster semi-final)
History and hurt
The meeting of Clare and Wexford will be overshadowed by the history between the two men on the sideline.
Davy Fitzgerald and Brian Lohan were the goalkeeper and full-back on Clare’s All-Ireland winning teams of 1995 and 98, and firm friends off it but haven’t spoken since 2014.
That can be traced back to a Fitzgibbon Cup quarter-final when Fitzgerald’s team deliberately sparked a pre-match row with their opponents.
The following year, Lohan enraged Fitzgerald by calling for an “independent” review of Clare hurling – when Davy was manager and his father Pat county secretary.
Last June, Fitzgerald suggested that “Maybe we should be big enough to forget about it and move on” but don’t expect peace to break out in Portlaoise on Saturday.
The fact that Fitzgerald seemed to swiftly lose support in Clare after leading the county to the All-Ireland title in 2013 only adds to the stakes.
Both teams are coming in at a fairly low ebb.
Wexford, so energetic in their march to the Leinster title last summer, were anything but in defeat to Galway, a display that Davy Fitz described as showing “No guts, no fight and no character.”
You would expect a backlash against Clare, who stumbled past Laois with 14 men and were again reliant on Tony Kelly.
Clare captain David McInerney will miss the game after his appeal against that red card was rejected but wing-back Jack Browne is expected to be fit to start.
Wexford could be missing two key players of their on in co-captain Lee Chin (hamstring) and Rory O’Connor (knee), who will both face late fitness tests. That would be a big blow to a forward division that only managed 0-17 against Galway.
Darren Morrissey, Kevin Foley, Shaun Murphy all drop out from the team beaten by Galway, and are replaced by Jack O’Connor, Joe O’Connor and David Dunne.
Wexford: Mark Fanning; Simon Donohue, Liam Ryan, Joe O’Connor; Paudie Foley, Matthew O’Hanlon, Diarmuid O’Keeffe; Aidan Nolan, Liam Óg McGovern; Jack O’Connor, Lee Chin, Rory O’Connor; Conor McDonald, Paul Morris, David Dunne.
LAST FIVE CHAMPIONSHIP MEETINGS
2018: Clare 0-27 Wexford 1-17 (All-Ireland quarter-final)
2014: Wexford 2-25 Clare 2-22 aet (All-Ireland qualifier replay)
2014: Wexford 2-25 Clare 2-25 aet (All-Ireland qualifier)
2013: Clare 3-24 Wexford 1-20, aet (All-Ireland qualifier)
2006: Clare 1-27 Wexford 1-15 (All-Ireland quarter-final)
Later on Saturday, we have the 88th championship clash between old rivals Cork and Tipperary. The latter have won two more (40) of the contests to date.
A week ago, you would have had the defending All-Ireland champions nailed on for this but Cork’s impressive display against Dublin prompts a slight reassessment.
They now come in with renewed confidence and having found a couple of new attacking options in Declan Dalton and Jack O’Connor, added even more pace to an already fast forward division.
Tipperary were flat against Limerick, who are fast becoming their bogey team, but it is doubtful Cork will be able to suffocate their creative talents to the same extent.
What odds Hurler of the Year Seamus Callanan can be held scoreless for a second consecutive game?
Liam Sheedy’s teams tend to come out firing after a loss and no one will be more motivated than wing-back talisman Padraic Maher, who was substituted early for the first time last day, having apparently struggled for fitness leading up to the game.
Mattie Kenny suggested Dublin playing three weekends in a row was a factor in their defeat last week, so in that sense Tipperary having had a fortnight to prepare could have an influence.
Sheedy has brought in three hard-running players, Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher, appearing for the first time since damaging his cruciate last year, Michael Breen and Dan McCormack, for the injured Barry Heffernan, Sean O’Brien and Mark Kehoe. Niall O’Meara, a goal-scoring half-forward in last year’s All-Ireland final, is named at wing-back.
Darragh Fitzgibbon and the Cadogan brothers remain out for Cork, who have stuck with the same team that started against Dublin.
Tipperary: Brian Hogan; Cathal Barrett, Ronan Maher, Alan Flynn; Niall O’Meara, Brendan Maher, Padraic Maher; Noel McGrath, Michael Breen; Dan McCormack, John McGrath, Patrick Maher; Jason Forde, Seamus Callanan, Jake Morris.
Cork: Anthony Nash; Damien Cahalane, Colm Spillane, Sean O’Donoghue; Tim O’Mahony, Robert Downey, Mark Coleman; Bill Cooper, Luke Meade, Seamus Harnedy, Shane Kingston, Robbie O’Flynn; Jack O’Connor, Declan Dalton, Patrick Horgan.
LAST FIVE CHAMPIONSHIP MEETINGS
2019: Tipperary 2-28 Cork 1-24 (Munster ’round robin’)
2018: Tipperary 2-20 Cork 1-23 (Munster ‘round robin’)
2017: Cork 2-27 Tipperary 1-26 (Munster quarter-final)
2014: Tipperary 2-18 Cork 1-11 (All-Ireland semi-final)
2012: Tipperary 1-22 Cork 0-24 (Munster semi-final)
Joe McDonagh Cup
Kerry travel to Corrigan Park to face Antrim in a battle of the top two. Kerry have been very convincing to date, with two comfortable wins over Westmeath and Meath, while Antrim have managed a big win against Westmeath and a high-scoring draw against Carlow. Shane Conway has been outstanding for the Kingdom racking up a total of 1-11 against Westmeath and 0-09 against Meath. Meanwhile, Ciarán Clarke has been the go-to guy for Antrim with a total of 2-07 against Carlow and 2-08 against Westmeath, including 2-01 from play.
Christy Ring Cup semi-finals
Down will hope to upset the odds when they welcome the 1998 Liam MacCarthy Cup Champions to Páirc Esler. Despite Michael Fennelly’s side having handed a walk over to Kildare in their opening game due to Covid-19 they have progressed to the semi-finals thanks to an impressive win over Derry (0-32 to 1-120 in which Eoghan Cahill scored 0-17. The Mournemen also beat Derry, on a tighter score line of 1-13 to 0-13.
Kildare progressed to the semi-final in Newbridge thanks to a seven-point win over Wicklow in Round 2A while Roscommon had a narrow 3-point win over Sligo in Round 2B game.
Nickey Rackard Cup semi-finals
Neighbours Donegal and Tyrone will face each in other in O’Donnell Park, Letterkenny. Donegal progressed to the semi-final thanks to a two-point victory over Longford and a 10-point win over Armagh while Tyrone recorded a comfortable victory over neighbours Monaghan in Round 2B after a defeat to Mayo in Round 2A.
In the other semi-final, favourites Mayo will face Leitrim. To date Mayo have recorded victories over Monaghan and Tyrone while Leitrim advanced to the semi-finals after a two-point win over Longford, having been defeated in their opening game against Armagh.