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At a glance: Championship weekend
03 Jul 2015 07:07
SATURDAY 4 JULY
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All-Ireland SFC Qualifiers Round 2A 1400 Offaly v Kildare, O’Connor Park 1700 Clare v Longford, Cusack Park 1700 Cavan v Roscommon, Breffni Park
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All-Ireland SHC Qualifier Round 1 1900 Clare v Offaly, Cusack Park 1900 Laois v Dublin, O’Moore Park 1900 Wexford v Cork, Wexford Park
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SUNDAY 5 JULY
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Munster SFC final 1400 Kerry v Cork, Fitzgerald Stadium Leinster SHC final 1600 Galway v Kilkenny, Croke Park
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All-Ireland SFC Qualifier Round 2A 1500 Fermanagh v Antrim, Brewster Park
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All-Ireland SHC Qualifier Round 1 1400 Westmeath v Limerick, Cusack Park
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ONLINE Live blogs on RTE.ie from 1430 Saturday and 1330 Sunday.
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ON TV Saturday 1630 Cavan v Roscommon (1700) live on RTÉ2 1830 Wexford v Cork (1900) live on Sky Sports
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Sunday 1330 Kerry v Cork (1400) and Galway v Kilkenny (1600) live on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player.
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All games streamed live worldwide via GAAGO.
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Highlights on The Sunday Game on RTÉ2 from 9.30pm.
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ON RADIO Saturday 1445 Updates on all the day's games, including live commentary of Clare v Longford and Wexford v Cork on RTÉ Radio 1. 1630 Live commentary on Cavan v Roscommon on Newstalk.
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Sunday 1400 Updates on all the day's games, including live commentary of Galway v Kilkenny on RTÉ Radio 1.
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1330 Live commentary on Kerry v Cork on Newstalk.
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WEATHER There will be some dry bright conditions with sunny spells on both Saturday and Sunday, but showers are likely both days and some heavy showers are expected on Sunday, possibly prolonged in some parts for a time. Temperatures more typically in the high teens or touching 20 degrees C.
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THE FIXTURES
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Offaly v Kildare - All-Ireland SFC Round 2A
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Six days on from their crushing defeat to Dublin and the Kildare footballers must pick themselves up for a date with Pat Flanagan's Offaly. The Lilywhites must prepare for the game without the services of David Hyland and Darroch Mulhall, who informed manager Jason Ryan that they would not be part of the county's attempt to salvage their season. Both players, it is believed, are spending the rest of the summer in the USA.
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Losing to Longford in their Leinster opener was the source of much annoyance in the Offaly camp. They, did, however, get back on the horse with a comfortable win over Waterford a fortnight ago. Niall McNamee missed that game and the Faithful talisman will be given as much time as possible to prove his fitness.
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These counties have served up some engrossing battles in the championship down through the years and this latest renewal should again be hard fought with little to choose between the sides.
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Verdict: Kildare
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Clare v Longford - All-Ireland SFC Round 2A
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Clare were without some key players for their Munster semi-final loss to Cork on 14 June, but for the visit of Longford they welcome back Enda Coughlan, David Tubridy and Shane McGrath.
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For the midlanders, the victory over Carlow in Round 1A helped to heal the wounds somewhat after their scutching at the hands of Dublin in the Leinster quarter-final.
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It's the first ever championship between sides, who both will be operating out of Division 3 next year. With decent attacking units on view, this could be one of the more free-flowing contest of the weekend.
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Verdict: Longford
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Cavan v Roscommon - All-Ireland SFC Round 2A
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Familiar foes collide once again at Breffni Park. For the fifth time since the spring of 2014, Cavan and Roscommon face each other in a competitive match.
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The Breffni County probably feel better about themselves having bagged a victory in Ruislip - four weeks on from their one-point loss to Monaghan in Ulster. The Rossies had high hopes of reaching a Connacht final but Sligo didn't read the script at Markievicz Park a fortnight ago and ran out deserving winners. Much work then for John Evans to do to raise spirits again.
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Roscommon do possess the more natural footballers and if they fully banished the memory of that defeat within the view of Benbulben, you would fancy them, but Cavan will be keen to atone for the poor showing again the same opposition at this stage last year. That drive could be crucial in determining the outcome.
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Verdict: Cavan
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Clare v Offaly - All-Ireland SHC Round 1
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'Who dare's to dream of '98?' That was the title of an RTÉ Radio 1 documentary that chronicled the three-match saga between Clare and Offally in the 1998 All-Ireland hurling semi-final. It makes for fascinating listening as Jimmy Cooney's 'early whistle' brought a premature end to the first replay at Croke Park. Clare were three points ahead when Cooney called time. Their thoughts turned to the All-Ireland final. The Offaly faithful, however, were having none of it and eventually their voices were heard. Those in control ordered a second replay. Offaly spirits were high; Clare just a little deflated. That was the difference on a sultry evening in Thurles. Offaly, managed by a man called Bond, prevailed and would duly take care of the Cats in the decider.
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The hurling landscape in 2015 is different. There is an expectancy that Clare can get back to the heights that saw them claim Liam MacCarthy in 2013. Offaly's stock has fallen a fair bit since those trophy-laden days of the 1980s and 90s.
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Davy Fitzgerald's hand has been strengthened by the return of Colm Galvin from Boston, while Brendan Bugler is back having served a suspension. Offaly won't lack for heart at Cusack Park but the Banner should have enough to win this one by double scores.
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Verdict: Clare
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Laois v Dublin - All-Ireland SHC Round 1
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Two sides who badly need a pick up after recent heavy defeats. Laois had high hopes of making life difficult again for Galway in the Leinster semi but they never raised any worthwhile gallop. Dublin were blitzed early on by the Tribesmen in their quarter-final replay and couldn't recovered.
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Ger Cunningham's side are favoured by most to get through and apparently were "flying" in a recent challenge match against Waterford. That said, 'Cheddar' Plunkett's side won't lack for effort in front of their own fans in what could be a high-scoring contest.
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Laois v Dublin - Last five championship clashes
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2012: Dublin 3-23 Laois 1-7 (Leinster quarter-final) 2010: Dublin 0-25 Laois 0-16 (Leinster quarter-final) 2005: Laois 4-14 Dublin 0-14 (Leinster quarter-final) 2003: Dublin 3-11 Laois 0-15 (Leinster preliminary round) Replay 2003: Dublin 1-18 Laois 2-15 Leinster preliminary round (Draw)
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Verdict: Dublin
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Wexford v Cork - All-Ireland SHC Round 1
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The most intriguing of this weekend's hurling qualifiers pits a Wexford side looking for redemption following their trimming by Kilkenny against a Cork outfit who failed to really sparkle in going down to Waterford.
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It was expected that Wexford would offer some resistance against the Cats, but in truth they contributed in many many ways to their own downfall and gifted their opponents three goals. A 24-point defeat should inspire them to do better at Wexford Park and much will be expected of their inside forward line.
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Jimmy Barry-Murphy welcomes back Seamus Harnedy to the starting XV at full-forward. Brian Lawton comes into the side at number 11. Harnedy's inclusion is a plus for a Rebels side who lack a certain physicality up front.
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It's really a case of a new beginning for both sides here. JBM's troops may be the favourites in the eyes of most, though you wouldn't be backing them with any strong conviction.
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Verdict: Wexford
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Kerry v Cork - Munster SFC final
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It's 1995 since Cork last beat Kerry in a Munster final in Killarney. The Rebels head to Fitzgerald Stadium on Sunday hoping to end that sequence and make amends for the collapse against their old rivals in last year's decider by the banks of the Lee.
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Declan O'Sullivan was superb for the Kingdom 12 months ago but he has now retired. There was no Tommy Walsh or Colm 'Gooch' Cooper on the pitch either, and Kieran Donaghy didn't figure in Éamonn Fitzmaurice's plans back then. All three will have their say on Sunday.
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Cork did account for Kerry in this year's league, but yet from that game, the side had eight different starters for their championship opener against Clare, while the Kingdom had six for their bow against Tipperary. Sunday's game then has to be seen in isolation.
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Cork, you sense, will not want to suffer another bad beating from a big gun and will be keen to put in a consistency of performance that does not see them enter barren periods at crucial stages. They should be capable of that at the weekend but it may not be enough to derail the Kingdom.
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Verdict: Kerry
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Galway v Kilkenny - Leinster SHC final
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In a hurling championship that has failed to fire so far, the meeting of Galway and Kilkenny has all the potential to be a blockbuster. Three years ago in the Leinster decider, the Tribesmen came out of the blocks all guns blazing and left the Black and Amber all in a tizzy. The Cats were shell-shocked as a so-called 'outsider' claimed the provincial spoils.
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Three years on and you get the sense that Galway have rediscovered a real appetite for the game again and really impressed when dispatching Dublin (after a replay) and Laois to get to this stage. Cathal Mannion's 3-03 caught the eye against the Dubs and Joe Canning's return of 1-15 against the O'Moore County is an indication of the Galway strength.
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Kilkenny, minus some well-known names, began their 2015 campaign in impressive fashion when trouncing Wexford by 24 points in the semi-final. Ger Aylward introduced himself to big stage with a hat-trick in a game where Michael Fennelly, Richie Hogan, TJ Reid and Kieran Joyce also made significant contributions.
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Galway have built up a nice head of steam since their underwhelming draw with the Dubs in the quarter-final. That may be enough to get them over the line here even though they may be without the services of their captain David Collins, who has a hamstring inury.
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Verdict: Galway
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Fermanagh v Antrim - All-Ireland SFC Round 2A
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Six weeks on from meeting in the Ulster championship, Fermanagh and Antrim locks horns again at Brewster Park. Could this have been avoided? In hurling, repeat pairings through the back-door are not permitted. Why are the same procedures not applied to both codes?
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As to the game itself, Pete McGrath's Fermanagh were perhaps a little unlucky to lose by 10 points to Monaghan in the Ulster semi-final. Antrim, on the other hand, had a notable victory over Laois in Round 1A, coming back from nine points down to eventually win by two. After dropping the McGourty brothers (CJ and Kieran) for the trip to O'Moore Park, manager Frank Fitzimons welcome the duo back along with Niall McKeever, Sean McVeigh and Ricky Johnston.
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The fare on offer n the Ulster quarter-final clash on 31 May was far from entertaining. You'd be hopeful that Sunday's afternoon's clash will be more pleasing on the eye.
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Verdict: Fermanagh
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Westmeath v Limerick - All-Ireland SHC Round 1
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Michael Ryan will take some satisfaction at still being involved in the championship in the first week of July. As they showed against Waterford in recent season, they are capable of giving the leading lights a game of it at Cusack Park.
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A 16-point defeat to Tipperary won't have gone down well in Limerick, in spite of how good Tipp were on the day. The target for TJ Ryan and co is to make an All-Ireland quarter-final and they will want to lay down marker here that they are back on track again.
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Verdict: Limerick
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