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Game On

Munster championships take centre stage

Thursday, 9th November, 2017 9:16am

Intermediate Football Semi-Final

Mallow vs An Ghaelthacht

A real tough test here for Mallow, even with home advantage against the Kerry champions, who are laced with quality players and a backroom team that have performed at the highest level.

Kerry sides have really dominated this grade and An Gaelthacht will start this match as favourites and determined to maintain that dominance, with the O’Se’s, Marc (player manager) and Padraig Og, Brian Begley, Eanna O’Connor and Sean M O’Conchuir all featuring in a side that will not fear the trip to the North Cork venue.

That is not to say that Mallow have no chance; indeed they have and while they struggled to see off Dungarvan in the quarter-final, it was away from home and their first game since winning the Cork championship.

Cian O’Riordan, James Loughrey, Matthew Taylor, Aaron Sheehan, Ryan Harkin, Killian O’Connor and Pa Herlihy produced brilliant displays in the County Final win over St Michael's, one of the games of the year, and they will need to repeat that type of performance if they are to upset the odds.

There is no doubt An Gaelthacht are fancied and should win, but Mallow are capable of springing a surprise.

Senior Football Semi-Final

Nemo Rangers vs Adare

This is a first outing in this championship for both sides. Adare received a bye, while the failure of Waterford to complete their championship allowed Nemo a free passage to the semi-final.

This time last year Adare were plying their trade in the intermediate grade and were surprise but deserving winners of the Limerick championship in their first year back up, which is no mean feat.

It’s a young side built on successful under 21 teams of recent years, and while they do not have any intercounty players, former senior Stephen Lavin is among their backroom team.

Hugh Bourke was their top scorer in the county final win over Newcastle West, and gets good support from Mark and Ronan Connolly, Jack English and team captain Shane Doherty, all of whom played when Adare defeated Rockchapel in the Munster Intermediate Championship last year.

Nemo are odds on favourites to win and set up a final meeting against Dr Crokes in a couple of weeks time but they will be conscious of their last Munster championship outing at this venue when they were undone by a late Clonmel goal in the final.

The Cork champions do have a few injury worries and defender Cian McWhinney is a definite absentee, and let’s hope he recovers quickly from the knock he picked up in the county final.

This is a Nemo side that showed their quality in both games against the ‘Barr’s, but they will be concerned at the concession of late goals that left them hanging on in the replay.

No doubt Larry Kavanagh and his selectors will have worked on this in the last two weeks, and with the experienced players in the side, Micheal Aodh Martin, Stephen and Alan Cronin, Paul Kerrigan, Luke Connolly, Colin O’Brien and Paddy Gumley among them, it’s hard to see them slipping up.

Junior Hurling Semi-Final

St Catherine’s v Ballybacon-Grange

The difficulty for Catherine’s here is it will be their third game in seven days and at this time of the season, regardless of how fit you are, it saps your energy. Whether they have recovered from their exertions over two gruelling games with Brian Dillon’s could shape the outcome of this semi-final.

The Tipperary champions had an emphatic win over Kenmare in the last round, and with former senior star Brendan Cummins still manning the goals, they will present Catherine’s with a formidable challenge as Billy Hewitt, Craig Carrigan, Declan Walsh and Sean Nagle are good players.

St Catherine’s have displayed remarkable resilience in the finals, and with Shane Kearney and Shane O’Brien on the doubtful list, they can only hope that Dan Mangan, Brian Mulcahy, Ronan Clancy, Richard O’Connell and Shane Cotter can summon up the energy for one more effort to get them to the Munster Final.

It’s a big ask and one that, on this occasion, may just prove beyond them.

County schedule

It’s a quiet enough weekend in the county championship with just a handful of games due to be played.

In Premier Under 21 hurling, Douglas will continue their bid to retain their title, and in the process complete a unique and rarely achieved double, when they play Charleville in Fermoy on Saturday at 2.30pm.

Shane Kingston will be a handful for the North Cork side, who can call on Darragh Fitzgibbon, but it’s hard to see the champions losing this one.

In the semi-final of the Senior Hurling League, it's Glen Rovers vs Sarsfields in Caherlag on Sunday at 12pm and before that on Saturday at 7pm in Pairc Ui Rinn, Sars take on Killavullen in the County Junior B Final.

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