Preview: Weekend’s Provincial Football Championship action

Saturday, April 22
Connacht SFC semi-final
Sligo v New York, Markievicz Park, 2.30pm (GAAGO)

New York will be full of self-belief for this Connacht semi-final after their historic quarter-final victory over Leitrim.

Sligo only defeated Leitrim by a single point in the Allianz Football League this year so that form-line suggests that at the very last New York can be seriously competitive again in this game.

Players like Alan Cambell, Eoghan Kerin, and Bill Maher are stand-outs in a tigerish defence, Johnny Glynn and Gavin O’Brien give them presence in the middle of the field, and Shane Carthy, Adrian Varley, and Mikey Brosnan are all consistent score-getters.

Sligo look like a team though that are timing their run to form nicely. They clicked in the second-half of their Allianz Football League Division 4 Final win over Wicklow, and carried on from there to beat London comfortably in the Connacht quarter-final.

In-form players like Niall Murphy, Pat Spillane, Patrick O’Connor and Cian Lally give them a cutting edge New York may struggle to contain.

SLIGO: Daniel Lyons, Mark Walsh, Evan Lyons, Nathan Mullen, Brian Cox, Paul McNamara, Luke Towey, Cian Lally, Paul Kilcoyne, Keelan Cawley, Sean Carrabine, Finnian Cawley, Pat Spillane, Patrick O’Connor, Niall Murphy. Subs: Keelan Harte, David Phillips, Jack Lavin, Luke Nicholson, Joe Keaney, Alan Reilly, Peter Laffey, Donal Conlon, Gerard O’Kelly Lynch, Mikey Gordon, Nathan Rooney.

NEW YORK: Michael Cunnignham, Jamie Boyle, Alan Campbell, Eoghan Kerin, Bill Maher, Robert Wharton, Shane Brosnan, Johnny Glynn, Gavin O’Brien, Mark Ellis, Adrian Varley, Shane Carthy, Mikey Brosnan, Patrick Boyle, Daniel O’Sullivan. Subs: Adam Loughlin Stones, Matthew Queenan, Killian Butler, Colin Keane, Connell Ahearne, Niall Madine, Jack Reilly, Luke Kelly, Peter Fox, Tiernan Mathers, Shane Bolger.

Munster SFC semi-finals
Kerry v Tipperary, Fitzgerald Stadium, 4pm (GAAGO)

After a poor League campaign by their high standards, reigning All-Ireland champions Kerry will be keen to put their best foot forward in their first match of the championship.

They’ve named a formidable looking team with a fit again Diarmuid O’Connor in midfield alongside Jack Barry, and prolific score-getters like the Clifford brothers, Sean O’Shea, and Paul Geaney in attack.

After a very poor League campaign that saw them relegated from Division 3, Tipperary managed to beat Waterford in the Munster SFC Quarter-Final but they still struggled for fluency for a lot of that game.

A trip to Fitzgerald Stadium to play the reigning champions looks like a very tall task for the Premier County.

KERRY: S Ryan; G O’Sullivan, J Foley, T O’Sullivan; P Murphy, T Morley, G White; D O’Connor, J Barry; D Moynihan, S O’Shea, P Clifford; T Brosnan, D Clifford, P Geaney. Subs: Shane Murphy, Dylan Casey, Brian Ó Beaglaíoch, Adrian Spillane, Barry Dan O’Sullivan, Ruairi Murphy, Killian Spillane, Donal O’Sullivan, Micheál Burns, Mike Breen, Stephen O’Brien.

TIPPERARY: Michael O’Reilly; Shane O’Connell, Jimmy Feehan, Willie Eviston, Kevin Fahey, Colman Kennedy, Colm O’Shaughnessy, Mark Russell, Jack Kennedy, Emmet Moloney, Teddy Doyle, Keith Ryan, Steven O’Brien, Stephen Quirke, Cathal Deely. Subs: Kuba Beben, Luke Boland, Darragh Brennan, Conor Cadell, Martin Kehoe, Conal Kennedy, Donough Leahy, Tommy Maher, Liam McGrath, Sean O’Connor, Mikey O’Shea.

Limerick v Clare, TUS Gaelic Grounds, 7pm

Clare bring a lot of momentum into this match after their fine victory over Cork in the Munster SFC Quarter-Final.

You’d imagine they won’t be complacent either coming in against a Limerick team that defeated them in last year’s Munster Championship.

When the teams met in Division 2 of the Allianz Football League four weeks ago Clare won handily by 15 points.

This game should be more competitive, but with forwards like Emmet McMahon, Keelan Sexton, and Eoin Cleary in such hot form at the moment, it looks like advantage Clare.

LIMERICK: Donal O’Sullivan, Mike Donovan, Sean O’Dea, Brian Fanning, Barry Coleman, Iain Corbett, Jim Liston, Cillian Fahy, Cathal Downes, Cian Sheehan, Colm McSweeney, Paul Maher, James Naughton, Brian Donovan, Hugh Bourke. Subs: Aaron O’Sullivan, Gordon Brown, David Connolly, Tommy Griffin, Davey Lyons, Tony McCarthy, Peter Nash, Ruadhan O’Connor, Liam O’Sullivan, Jack Ryan, Cormac Woulfe.

CLARE: Stephen Ryan, Manus Doherty, Cillian Brennan, Cillian Rouine, Caran Russell, Jamie Malone, Daniel Walsh, Darragh Bohannon, Darren O’Neill, Pearse Lillis, Emmet McMahon, Dermot Coughlan, Eoin Cleary, Keelan Sexton, Padraic Collins. Subs: David Sexton, Gavin Cooney, Micheal Garry, Aaron Griffin, Shane Griffin, Darren Nagle, Ronan Lanigan, Mark McInerney, Cathal O’Connor, Alan Sweeney, Ikem Ugweru.

Ulster SFC quarter-final

Cavan v Armagh, Kingspan Breffni, 6.30pm (GAAGO)

The big news from an Armagh perspective is that star forward, Rian O’Neill, has returned to fitness and is named on the bench for this match.

In his absence, Conor Turbitt starred for the Orchard County in their first-round win over Antrim, scoring eight points, and it’ll be interesting to see if he can build on that performance.

Kieran McGeeney’s team are slight favourites coming into this match, but you can be sure there’s a real belief in the Cavan camp they can pull off an upset here.

They were impressive Division 3 League champions and look like a nicely balanced team at the moment with Dara McVeety adding a lot to their transition play and Paddy Lynch, Oisin Brady, and Gearoid McKiernan in good form in attack.

There won’t be much between the teams, and it should be a cracking contest.

CAVAN: Raymond Galligan; Killian Clarke, Padraig Faulkner, Jason McLoughlin, Ciarán Brady, Oisin Kiernan, Gerard Smith, Gearóid McKiernan, James Smith, Conor Brady, Dara McVeety, Jonathan McCabe, Cian Madden, Paddy Lynch, Oisin Brady, Liam Brady, Conor Moynagh, Conor Madden, Niall Carolan, Tiarnan Madden, Brandon Boylan, Ryan O’Neill, Jack McKenna, Killian Brady, Martin Reilly, Conor Smith.

ARMAGH: E Rafferty; C O’Neill, A McKay, A Forker; G McCabe, C Mackin, B McCambridge; B Crealey, S McPartlan; S Campbell, J Hall, J Duffy; R Grugan, A Murnin, C Turbitt. Subs: Shea Magill, Ciaran Higgins, Connaire Mackin, Callum Cumiskey, Ross McQuillan, Stephen Sheridan, Jarly Óg Burns, Oisin Conaty, Rian O’Neill, Aidan Nugent, Cian McConville

Sunday, April 23

Connacht SFC semi-final

Roscommon v Galway, Dr Hyde Park, 4pm (RTE2)

Both Roscommon and Galway have named strong teams for what should be a cracker of a Connacht semi-final.

Not surprisingly the Rossies have stuck with the same team that so impressively beat a fancied Mayo in the quarter-final, though a fit-again Daire Cregg is a notable inclusion on the subs bench.

Galway have made three changes to the team that were beaten in the League Final by Mayo three weeks ago, with Bernie Power starting in goal, Jack Glynn coming into the full-back line, and Damien Comer starting in attack.

When these two teams met in the League Roscommon scored the last five points of the match to win by a single point, and another close contest looks in store here.

Galway arguably have an edge in attack with Comer back in harness on the edge of the square, but Roscommon will be a seriously hard nut to crack on home soil. This one should go down to the wire.

ROSCOMMON: Conor Carroll, Conor Hussey, Conor Daly, David Murray, Niall Daly, Brian Stack, Eoin McCormack, Keith Doyle, Dylan Ruane, Ciarain Murtagh, Ciaran Lennon, Enda Smith, Ben O’Carroll, Donie Smith, Diarmuid Murtagh; Colm Lavin, Colin Walsh, Robbie Dolan, Niall Kilroy, Richard Hughes, Ruaidhri Fallon, Cian McKeon, Conor Cox, Cian Connolly, Paul Carey, Daire Cregg.

GALWAY: Bernard Power, John McGrath, Sean Kelly, Jack Glynn, Dylan McHugh, John Daly, Cathal Sweeney, Paul Conroy, John Maher, Matthew Tierney, Johnny Heaney, Peter Cooke, Ian Burke, Damien Comer, Shane Walsh, Connor Gleeson, Cian Hernon, Sean Fitzgerald, Daniel O’Falherty, Paul Kelly, Gerard Davoran, Owen Gallagher, Robert Finnerty, Dessie Conneely, TomocCulhane, Cillian McDaid.

Leinster SFC quarter-finals

Westmeath v Louth, Pairc Tailteann, 2pm

Louth had a hugely encouraging campaign in Division 2 of the Allianz Football League and are boosted by the return to fitness of star forward Sam Mulroy who is named at centre-forward.

It’s not all good news though on the injury-front – Ciaran Byrne, Tom Jackson, Dermot Campbell, and Conor Clarke are all ruled out of this match against Westmeath which is a significant talent drain, especially as a youthful Louth panel includes 13 players who have never played in the Leinster Championship.

Even without some of his star players, expect Mickey Harte to have the Wee County extremely well-prepared for this match. They’re defensively very solid and counter-attack with real bite, which is the sort of game-plan Westmeath have sometimes struggled against.

The Lake County were very inconsistent in Division 3 of the League, but when they click they’re a very dangerous team thanks to forwards like John Heslin, Luke Loughlin, and Ronan O’Toole.

Louth’s form-line is more convincing, but if Westmeath keep things steady at the back they have the firepower to win.

WESTMEATH: J Daly; J Smith, K Maguire, J Gonoud; J Dolan, R Wallace, D Lynch; S Duncan, R Connellan; J Lynam, R O’Toole, S McCartan; L Loughlin, J Heslin, L Dolan. Subs: T Martin, C McCormack, K Martin, D Scahill, S Smith, S Dempsey, E Mulvihill, S Baker, D Seery, A McCormack, D Giles.

LOUTH: James Califf, Dan Corcoran, Peter Lynch, Donal McKenny, Leonard Grey, Niall Sharkey, Ciaran Murphy, Tommy Durnin, Conor Early, Liam Jackson, Sam Mulroy, Conor Grimes, Daire McConnon, Ciaran Downey, Ryan Burns, Peter McStravick, Alan Connor, Jay Hughes, Ciaran Keenan, Craig Lennon, Conall McCaul, Oisin McGuinness, Conall McKeever, Dylan McKeown, Paul Mathews, Anthony Williams.

Kildare v Wicklow, Netwatch Cullen Park, 2.30pm

Kildare operated two divisions above Wicklow in the League this year but this still looks like a tricky tie for the Lilywhites.

Wicklow were promoted from Division 4 and already have a convincing championship win over Carlow under their belts, so the Garden County bring significant momentum into this match.

As for Kildare, it’s hard to know what their mindset will be after a very inconsistent League campaign that saw them suffer some heavy defeats but end on a high with wins over Limerick and Meath.

On paper, Kildare are the stronger team, but if they continue to commit the sort of defensive errors they did during the League, then a lively Wicklow attack will punish them.

KILDARE: M Donnellan; M O’Grady, S Ryan, D Malone; D Hyland, K Flynn, J Sargent, K O’Callaghan, A Masterson; B Coffey, B McCormack, A Beirne; J Robinson, D Kirwan, P Woodgate. Subs: A O’Neill, E Doyle, P McDermott, D Flynn, K Feely, M Joyce, P Cribbin, N Flynn, S O’Sullivan, M Gibbons, M Kelly.

WICKLOW: Mark Jackson; Eoin Murtagh, Paul McLoughlin, Malachy Stone, Karl Furlong, Patrick O’Keane, Zach Cullen, Dean Healy, Padraig O’Toole, Cillian McDonald, John Paul Hurley, Arran Murphy, Mark Kenny, Kevin Quinn, Eoin Darcy. Subs: Peter Byrne, Tom Moran, Joe Prendergast, Darragh Fitzgerald, Jack Kirwan, Fintan O’Shea, Jacques McCall, Gearoid Murphy, Sam O’Callaghan, John Keogh, Cian O’Sullivan.

Laois v Dublin, Laois Hire O’Moore Park, 3.30pm (GAAGO)

The big news from a Dublin point of view is that Paul Mannion will play his first championship match for Dessie Farrell since the 2020 campaign, starting at corner-forward.

The other two prodigal sons, Jack McCaffrey and Stephen Cluxton, are both named on the bench. You can be sure McCaffrey will make an appearance at some stage after impressing during the League.

It’s a very strong looking Dublin team overall, with Eoin Murchan and Ciarán Kilkenny also back in harness after not starting the League Final against Derry.

This looks like a seriously tough task for Laois but they have puncher’s chance if they can get good deliveries into in-form forwards like Eoin Lowry and Evan O’Carroll.

DUBLIN: D O’Hanlon; E Murchan, D Byrne, D Newcombe; J McCarthy, J Small, L Gannon; B Fenton, T Lahiff; S Bugler, C Basquel, C Kilkenny; P Mannion, C O’Callaghan, R McGarry. Subs: S Cluxton, C Murphy, C Costello, C Dias, B Howard, S McMahon, J McCaffrey, L O’Dell, K O’Gara, D Rock, N Scully.

LAOIS: Scott Osborne, Sean Greene, Trevor Collins, Robert Pigott, Sean O’Flynn, Mark Timmons, Padraig Lillis, Damon Larkin, Kevin Swayne, Paul Kingston, Patrick O’Sullivan, Eoin Lowry, Evan O’Carroll, Mark Barry. Subs: Killian Roche, Seamus Lacey, Alex Mohan, Ciaran Burke, James Finn, Cathal Doyle, Dylan Kavanagh, Darragh Carolan, Niall Corbet, Brian Daly, Colm Murphy.

Offaly v Meath, Glenisk O’Connor Park, 4pm

Offaly are underdogs here, but home advantage and the benefit of a hard-fought first-round win over Longford are definite factors in their favour.

There are a lot of question marks over this Meath team too after a League campaign that started well but then went off the rails with defeats to Derry, Louth, Dublin, and Kildare as well as an unimpressive draw with bottom of the table Limerick.

Royal County manager, Colm O’Rourke, will surely be hoping his team can rediscover the confidence and attacking brio that saw them score seven goals in their first two League games against Cork and Clare, but just as important will be to shore up a leaky defence that conceded 18 points in the League.

MEATH: H Hogan; A O’Neill, Ronan Ryan, M Flood; D Keoghan, P Harnan, S Coffey; R Jones, J Flynn; D McGowan, M Costello, C Hickey; J Morris, C O’Sullivan, D Lenihan. Subs: S Brennan, K Curtis, J Scully, H O’Higgins, J O’Connor, Ross Ryan, T O’Reilly, A Lynch, B Wyer, D Moriarty, J McEntee.

OFFALY: Ian Duffy, Lee Pearson, Declan Hogan, David Dempsey, Rory Egan, Peter Cunningham, Ciaran Donnelly, Jack McEvoy, Conor McNamee, Cian Farrell, Ruairi McNamee, Anton Sullivan, Dylan Hyland, Nigel Dunne, Jamie Evans, Corey White, Cian Donohoe, Bernard Allen, Joe Maher, Jack Bryan, Bill Carroll, Jack O’Brien, Aaron Brazil, Aaron Leavy, Shane Tierney, Shane O’Toole Greene

Ulster SFC quarter-final

Down v Donegal, Páirc Esler, 2pm (BBC Sport NI)

Donegal are boosted by the inclusion of injury-doubt Oisin Gallen in their attack for this match. His return to fitness is a particularly big boost with Patrick McBrearty sidelined.

The big question from a Donegal point of view is whether or not they have recovered mentally from a disastrous League campaign that saw them relegated from Division 1 and part company with manager Paddy Carr.

They have a significantly stronger track record than Down in the Ulster SFC in recent years and are a better team on paper, but the Mourne men look like a rejuvenated force under new manager Conor Laverty, even if they failed to gain promotion from Division 3.

They have plenty of pace and ball-carrying ability in attack, so expect them to run directly at a Donegal defence that conceded heavily in the League. If they can break even Donegal around the middle third for breaking ball, then Down can pull of an upset.

DOWN: Niall Kane; Pierce Laverty, Anthony Doherty, Conor Fitzpatrick, Danny Magill, Niall McParland, Miceal Rooney, Conor Poland, Ryan McEvoy, Ceilum Doherty, Ryan Johnston, Liam Kerry, Donach McAleenan, Pat Havern, Eugene Branagan. Subs: Charlie Smyth, Shane Annett, Anthony Morgan, Patrick Branagan, Daniel Guinness, Andrew Gilmore, Conor McCrockard, Rory Mason, Shealan Johnston, Gerard Collins, Conor Francis.

DONEGAL: Shaun Patton; Mark Curran, Brendan McCole, Caolan Ward, Caolan McColgan, Stephen McMenamin, Eoghan Ban Gallagher, Caolan McDonagle, Jason McGee, Daire Ó Baoill, Oisin Gallen, Ciaran Thompson, Hugh McFadden, Jamie Brennan, Conor O’Donnell. Subs: Gavin Mulreaney, John Ross Molloy, Michael Langan, Brian O’Donnell, Rory O’Donnell, Luke McGlynn, Johnny McGroddy, Dylan Dorrian, Kieran Tobin, Jack McSharry, Kane Barrett.