Weekend GAA Championship previews and verdicts
‘Hegarty effect’ offers even more Limerick options
There are a myriad of reasons why Limerick are way out on their own in the market to reclaim the Liam MacCarthy.
And their performances in the Championship this year only underlined their status as the game’s most in form team.
Limerick are certainly about the sum of their parts. John Kiely’s men hit 0-36 – 0-26 of which came from play from 11 different scorers – in the opening-round win over Clare. And they followed that up with a comprehensive win over reigning All-Ireland champions Tipperary last time out.
Still, there’s no doubting Gearóid Hegarty’s importance to the cause. Here we’ve taken a deep dive into four of his games this year, two from each side of the break. And in the League wins over Cork and Galway as well as their two championship outings, Hegarty is shown to be a key part of the jigsaw.
Hegarty helps knit the whole game plan together. The October Hurler of the Month, he claimed 11 puckouts in those four games and is good for 5 hooks/blocks/tackles/interceptions a game. He also provides an average of three assists.
And while the giant 6’5″ St Patrick’s club man is hailed for his work-rate and physicality, what is probably less heralded is his efficiency. Of the 11 shots he has taken in those four games, just one has tailed wide. Our map shows he’s proficient from just about every angle. If Waterford are to halt Limerick’s gallop this weekend, they’ll have to find a way to reel in Hegarty.
Analysis by Diarmuid Whelan (@DiarmuidWhelan1) in collaboration with DeelySportScience.com
* Extra-time and winner on the day
ULSTER SFC SEMI-FINAL
Donegal v Armagh, Kingspan Breffni Park, 1.15, D Coldrick (Meath), Sky Sports Mix
Donegal have Patrick McBrearty available again in attack, though defender Paddy McGrath may miss out. Their control against Tyrone in difficult circumstances showed maturity that Armagh may not be equipped to match.
Odds: Donegal 2/7, Armagh 7/2
LEINSTER SHC FINAL
Kilkenny v Galway, Croke Park, 6.15, F Horgan (Tipperary), RTÉ 2
Galway have had a distinct edge in this championship fixture in recent years, winning three of the last four meetings with one draw. On the evidence of the semi-finals, that should hold but that would leave Kilkenny without a provincial title in four attempts, a run they have to go back to the 1990s to replicate. Expect the same fury as their Limerick performance last year and perhaps the same outcome.
Odds: Galway 8/11, Kilkenny 11/8
All-Ireland SHC QUALIFIERS ROUND 1
Clare v Wexford, MW Hire O’Moore Park, 2.0, L Gordan (Galway), GAAGO
Two counties with quite a bit to find on their provincial performance and in Clare’s case, a rocky road taken against Laois in last week’s qualifier. Dependency on Tony Kelly is high and Wexford’s greater balance will tell, if the fight in them resurfaces.
Odds: Wexford 8/13, Clare 13/8
Cork v Tipperary, LIT Gaelic Grounds, 4.0, J Owens (Wexford), 4.0, Sky Sports Mix
Two teams that will have distaste for ‘winter hurling’ levelled at them if they don’t prevail. Tipperary know the mechanics of recovery from defeat in the province and will be conscious that to fall here would represent a very poor defence of their All-Ireland title. Cork’s defence weakens the case for them.
Odds: Tipperary 8/15, Cork 15/8
JOE McDONAGH CUP ROUND 3
Antrim v Kerry, Corrigan Park, Belfast, 1.30, P Murphy(Carlow) beosport.live
Antrim are slight favourites and the long journey has to be factored in but Shane Conway can again be the difference for Kerry.
Odds: Antrim 4/7, Kerry 7/4
CHRISTY RING CUP SEMI-FINALS
Down v Offaly, Páirc Esler, Newry, 1.30, S Stack (Dublin), PaircTV.com
Offaly put their Covid forfeit to Kildare behind them to trounce Derry last time out. On that form line, they have too much in hand for Down.
Odds: Offaly 1/33, Down 9/1
Kildare v Roscommon, St Conleth’s Park, Newbridge, 1.30, T Gleeson (Dublin), Sport TG4 You Tube
Kildare were slightly more convincing against Wicklow than Roscommon and that gives them an edge here.
Odds: Kildare 1/6, Roscommon 9/2
NICKY RACKARD CUP SEMI-FINALS
Donegal v Tyrone, O’Donnell Park, Letterkenny, 1.30, C McDonald (Antrim), Sport TG4 You Tube
Donegal have been making solid progress and should frank that with a comfortable win here
Odds: Donegal 1/3, Tyrone 11/4
Mayo v Leitrim, Elvery’s MacHale Park, Castlebar, 1.30, R Fitzsimons (Offaly), Sport TG4 You Tube
Mayo look to have too much class.
Odds: Mayo 1/14, Leitrim 7/1
TG4 All-Ireland LADIES SFC ROUND 3 (1.0 unless stated)
Donegal v Waterford, TEG Cusack Park, LGFA Facebook
Nothing at stake here but pride. Both went close against Dublin.
Odds: Donegal 2/7, Waterford 4/1
Armagh v Mayo, Parnell Park, 3.15, TG4 live
Mayo’s concession against Tyrone (0-4) reads better than Armagh’s (3-13) though there were just three points between them last year.
Odds: Mayo 1/3, Armagh 11/4
ALL-IRELAND SENIOR CAMOGIE CHAMPIONSHIP QUARTER-FINALS
Cork v Clare, Páirc Uí Chaoimh, 1.0, L Dempsey (Kilkenny)
Clare are in their first quarter-final since 2014 but Cork are a step too far.
Odds: Cork 1/25, Clare 9/1
Tipperary v Waterford, Páirc Uí Chaoimh, 2.45, J Dermody (Westmeath)
Niamh Rockett and Beth Carton have helped to drive Waterford to another quarter-final where they meet a Tipp side buoyant from good wins over Clare and Dublin.
Odds: Tipperary 4/9, Waterford 9/4
CONNACHT SFC FINAL
Galway v Mayo, Pearse Stadium, Salthill, 1.30, S Hurson (Tyrone), RTÉ 2
Judge it on the recent league match and there can only be one winner. It could never fall that way again, however. Still, Mayo’s trajectory over the last four weekends has been decent, pointing to a first Connacht title in five years and validation for a significant personnel overhaul.
Odds: Mayo 10/11, Galway 11/10
ULSTER SFC SEMI-FINAL
Cavan v Down, Athletic Grounds, Armagh, 1.30, M McNally (Monaghan), BBC
Cavan haven’t had to be too impressive to get this far while Down are more lightly raced and overcame the absence of Darragh O’Hanlon and Connaire Harrison to see off Fermanagh comfortably.
Odds: Down 4/6, Cavan 6/4
LEINSTER SFC SEMI-FINALS
Meath v Kildare, Croke Park, 1.0, C Lane (Cork), RTÉ News Channel
The battle for middle Leinster, though Westmeath might have something to say about that. Meath walked into an ambush when the sides met three years ago but have added pace since and have picked up since the resumption. Kildare’s Darragh Kirwan has made a real impact.
Odds: Meath 8/11, Kildare 11/8
Dublin v Laois, Croke Park, 3.30, C Branagan (Down), RTÉ News Channel
A single-figure defeat represents a good result against Dublin in Leinster these days. There haven’t been many since 2013, Westmeath were a couple of points out last Saturday and Laois will be about the same here.
Odds: 1/500, Laois 20/1
MUNSTER SHC FINAL
Limerick v Waterford, Semple Stadium, Thurles, 4.0, C Lyons (Cork), RTÉ 2
Limerick have won four of the last five titles they contested, a streak that looks too strong for Waterford to halt with their power around the middle third helping to crush both Clare and Tipperary. Switches involving Kyle Hayes, Cian Lynch and Darragh O’Donovan the last day shows how flexible they are. New-look Waterford will win some battles but not enough.
Odds: Limerick 2/9, Waterford 4/1
TG4 All-Ireland Ladies SFC ROUND 3 (1.0 unless stated)
Cavan v Cork, St Brendan’s Park, Birr, LGFA Facebook
A 20-point gap from last year is too much for Cavan to make up.
Odds: Cork 1/500, Cavan 20/1
Monaghan v Galway, Páirc Seán MacDiarmuida, Carrick-on-Shannon, LGFA Facebook
Monaghan have improved and both sides beat Tipperary by a point but Galway should kick on.
Odds: Galway 1/5, Monaghan 7/2
ALL-IRELAND INTERMEDIATE CAMOGIE CHAMPIONSHIP (1.30 unless stated)
Kerry v Laois, The Ragg, J McDonagh (Galway)
Derry v Meath, Templeport St Aidan’s, B Nea (Wexford)