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At a glance: The Championship weekend

Updated: Friday, 23 May 2014 12:02 | Comments

Cork and Waterford hurlers meet for the first time in Munster since the 2010 provincial final
Cork and Waterford hurlers meet for the first time in Munster since the 2010 provincial final

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Audio

By James McMahon

SATURDAY 24 MAY

1500 Westmeath v London - Cusack Park (Hurling)
1830 Down v Tyrone - Páirc Esler (Football)

SUNDAY 25 MAY

1400 Derry v Donegal - Celtic Park (Football)
1500 London v Galway - Ruislip (Football)
1500 Laois v Antrim - O'Moore Park (Hurling)
1600 Cork v Waterford - Semple Stadium (Hurling) 

ON TV
RTÉ Two Derry v Donegal & Cork v Waterford - Sunday Game Live from 1330. Available worldwide on RTE Player

ON RADIO
Radio 1:
Down v Tyrone - Saturday Sport from 1825
Radio 1: Cork v Waterford - Sunday Sport from 1400
Newstalk: Derry v Donegal - Off the Ball from 1300

WEATHER Saturday and Sunday will see scattered showers, but staying rather cloudy and cool with top temperatures reaching just 10 to 13 degrees in a moderate northerly breeze.

THE FIXTURES

Westmeath v London - Leinster SHC round-robin, series 5

For one of these teams, involvement in the 2014 championship will end on Saturday afternoon. 

If Westmeath prevail, they will face the Christy Ring Cup winner in a play-off and London will drop down to the second tier for 2015.

A victory for London would ensure their stay in the Leinster campaign next year; Westmeath would be relegated and Carlow would take on the Christy Ring winner. 

If stalemate ensues at Cusack Park, then Westmeath will be relegated.

The midlanders could easily have got something from their joust with Carlow last weekend, while London finished strongly against Laois, only losing by three points. 

A draw was the outcome when the sides in the league met a few months back. That outcome would not do for Brian Hanley's side on this occasion. Westmeath may just have enough to ensure that doesn't happen and so live to fight another day.

Verdict: Westmeath

Tyrone v Down - Ulster SFC preliminary round replay

The drawn match finished in a welter of excitement. Seán Cavanagh’s last-gasp pointed free saved Tyrone’s blushes, though Down will feel they should have sealed the deal after a second-half surge that saw them score three goals.

Indeed the tide turned for the Mourne County after Tyrone goalkeeper Niall Morgan was given a black card. Benny Coulter, Liam Doyle and the two Johnsons made hay thereafter. Joe Brolly concluded that “Down were then able to strip away the Tyrone façade and expose them for what they are – a mediocre team.”

The RTÉ pundit went on to add that Down now have the scent of blood in their nostrils for the replay.

James McCartan’s side will no doubt try to hit Tyrone on the break again. How Mickey Harte’s side deal with those surges could very well determine the outcome of this replay – an encounter that could go to extra time.

Verdict: Down

Derry v Donegal - Ulster SFC quarter-final

Celtic Park is expected to be packed for this eagerly-awaited clash. Apart from their league final collapse against Dublin, Derry enjoyed a really good league and in Mark Lynch they have a player of real quality.

Donegal enter the game under something of a cloud following a below-par showing in the Division 2 league final against Monaghan and Mark McHugh's decision to leave the squad.

That said, the heat of championship battle should bring out the best in Jim McGuinness's side as they bid to reach the level that took them all the way in 2012.

Derry, however, are equally as intent on making an impression this year and will seek to snuff out the supply of ball into the Donegal full-forward line.

Sunday's game could be a classic, or it could be a war off attrition. In all probability, little is likely to separate the sides at the final whistle. 

Verdict: Derry

London v Galway - Connacht SFC quarter-final

Can London repeat their heroics of last year when they played five championship games? The first of those was a victory over Sligo in Ruislip. It was a fully-deserved success, though not surprising, as Mayo and Leitrim nearly succumbed on their recent visits to Ruislip.

As was the case last year, the Exiles didn't pull up many trees in their league campaign, but an enthusiastic support in the tight surrounds in Ruislip should drive them on as they strive to set up another championship date with Sligo in three weeks' time.

Alan Mulholland is now in his third year in charge of Galway. The immediate target must be a Connacht final appearance.

They will travel to London without captain Paul Conroy, who is sidelined with a foot injury.

Goalkeeper Tom Healy is suspended. Manus Breathnach is expected to take his place.

The westerners had a strong finish to their league campaign and their attacking strength should ensure that can avoid a slip-up - and so leave them one step closer to that provincial final appearance.  

Laois v Antrim - Leinster SHC round-robin, series 5

Both sides can look forward to a provincial quarter-final in Portlaoise on Sunday week. However, there is still much riding on this fixture, with Wexford to face the winner at O'Moore Park. For the vanquished, it's a date with Galway.

A draw would see Laois top the group and so go on to face the Slaneysiders.

Laois were a bit slow to get going, but found their groove when notching 1-22 against Carlow. Antrim have also scored heavily in the section. However, hitting 17 wides the last day against London will be a worry.

Laois had two goals to spare when the sides met in the league on 9 March. It should be a bit closer on Sunday.

Verdict: Laois 

Cork v Waterford - Munster SHC quarter-final

It's now ten years since these counties were involved in one of the great Munster finals in the modern era. Waterford prevailed narrowly that day. Move forward to 2010 and that Saturday evening replay of the provincial decider. Dusk was about to fall and the Déise yet again had their noses in front at the final whistle.

Even though many pundits expect Cork to turn the tables when they clash at the weekend, the spirit of the Déise should not be underestimated. 

Derek McGrath introduces four newcomers to the championship fray, but there is still enough of craft and guile in this Waterford side.

Jimmy Barry-Murphy had the Rebels just seconds away from winning last year's All-Ireland. Indeed RTÉ pundits Eddie Brennan and Brendan Cummins believe they have it in them to reach the September showdown again.

Much has been said about the likelihood of Paudie O'Sullivan's return to the side. There is no doubt that he gives the side an added dimension up front. If defensive frailties are sorted out, then JBM's side could very well have another long campaign.

Verdict: Cork  

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