Could you call any outcome on Saturday an ambush? Let’s be honest, no matter who wins these AIB All-Ireland SFC club semi-finals, we’re talking about a pair of evenly-matched contests.

connolly_preview

AIB All-Ireland SFC Semi-Finals Previews

Shane Stapleton

 

Could you call any outcome on Saturday an ambush? Let’s be honest, no matter who wins these AIB All-Ireland SFC club semi-finals, we’re talking about a pair of evenly-matched contests.

Or so it should be. In the club hurling semi-final between Ballyea and St Thomas’, there was to be nothing in it, until the Clare men raced into a 12-point lead over St Thomas’ with 12 minutes to go. From then on, pandemonium ensued; that is, until Tony Kelly settled everyone’s nerves and the game. Anything can happen.

 

Perhaps it will come down to another special player this weekend. Goodness knows there’s no shortage of them. Diarmuid Connolly regularly throws the deciding punch even in games where he hasn’t been full throttle throughout. Kerry knew the feeling in 2016.

 

There were long spells of the county semi-final against Ballymun last year too where he was on the periphery, until suddenly he’d slap over one of his four exceptional points. Tomas Quinn, Enda Varley… they’re always a threat too.

 

chrissy_preview

As much as anything else, what should give the Derry side extra belief is that their Dublin counterparts have not been in full flow this season. They were expected to brush Castleknock aside in the county final, which proved to be a much tighter affair than predicted.

 

Connolly was black-carded in an eight-point win over Palatine of Carlow, the Marino men didn’t overwhelm Longford’s Mullinalaghta, and Rhode gifted Vin’s their only goal in the Leinster final.

 

As ever, managing the time leading into the AIB All-Ireland semi-finals is the key. Or to reduce it to real terms: you’ve negotiated it well if you win, and poorly if you lose. The big challenge is to use it wisely rather than simply while away your time since the last big outing. Of course, for Slaughtneil, they had the relative bonus of an quarter-final outing against St Kiernan’s, which thy dealt with professionally.

 

Slaughtneil might well be the only club left who have never lifted the Andy Merrigan Cup but the fact that they’ve made it here in both codes — with around 20 players involved in big and small ball — should be fair warning to St Vincent’s. As ever, Christopher Bradley and Meehaul McGrath provide a goal threat.

 

As much as anything else, what should give the Derry side extra belief is that their Dublin counterparts have not been in full flow this season. They were expected to brush Castleknock aside in the county final, which proved to be a much tighter affair than predicted.

 

Connolly was black-carded in an eight-point win over Palatine of Carlow, the Marino men didn’t overwhelm Longford’s Mullinalaghta, and Rhode gifted Vin’s their only goal in the Leinster final.

 

As ever, managing the time leading into the AIB All-Ireland semi-finals is the key. Or to reduce it to real terms: you’ve negotiated it well if you win, and poorly if you lose. The big challenge is to use it wisely rather than simply while away your time since the last big outing. Of course, for Slaughtneil, they had the relative bonus of an quarter-final outing against St Kiernan’s, which thy dealt with professionally.

 

gooch_preview

Colm Cooper was a mascot when Dr Croke’s won the AIB All-Ireland title in 1992, a quarter of a century ago. Building up the threat level of the Gooch is almost pointless, because anyone who has ever pulled up a pair of togs knows all about him.

 

Stopping him, particularly at club level where space is more plentiful, is another thing. Corofin also have to worry about Daithi Casey, who scored a hat-trick of goals in the Munster final win over Waterford’s The Nire, Johnny Buckley, Kieran O’Leary and Fionn Fitzgerald. The Kerry side is laden with class, though they’ll miss the calming presence of injured star Eoin Brosnan.

 

Not that the Galway champions will be overawed. Kieran Fitzgerald will likely station himself near Cooper — as often happened at inter-county level — and the 2001 All-Ireland winner will rely on strength of numbers around him.

 

A lot of responsibility rests on the shoulder of midfielders Daithí Burke and Ronan Steede, while the Farraghers, Silkes, Gary Sice, Kieran McGrath, Michael Lundy, Michael Farragher, Jason Leonard and Alan Burke are expected to lighten the load.

 

It’s amazing to think that no Kerry team has won the AIB All-Ireland club title since Laune Rangers in 1996, while only Croke’s and An Ghaeltacht have even made the final. Galway teams, meanwhile, have won four crowns during that time (two for Corofin; one each for Caltra and Salthill-Knocknacarra) and not lost a single decider since 1991.

 

The Tribesmen came through their provincial final against St Brigid’s at a canter — 2-13 to 0-05 — while Croke’s trounced the Nire by 3-15 to 0-6. It should be a high-scoring game, with Corofin’s extra power and athleticism likely to tell.

 

AIB All-Ireland club SFC semi-finals

St Vincent's (Dublin) v Slaughtneil (Derry), Pairc Esler, 2pm

Corofin (Galway) v Dr Crokes (Kerry), Gaelic Grounds, 4pm

 

You are signed in as:null
Please Edit
No comments yet
<< BACK TO BLOGS