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At a glance: The championship weekend

Updated: Saturday, 19 Jul 2014 11:53 | Comments

Armagh take on Roscommon in the qualifiers For the third year on the trot Dublin and Meath will contest the Leinster football final
Armagh take on Roscommon in the qualifiers For the third year on the trot Dublin and Meath will contest the Leinster football final

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By James McMahon

Provincial football titles are up for grabs in Leinster and Ulster this weekend, are there is also qualifier action in both codes.

SATURDAY 19 JULY 
1700 Roscommon v Armagh (football qualifier) 
1900 Clare v Kildare, (football qualifier) 
1900 Waterford v Wexford (hurling qualifier)

SUNDAY 20 JULY 
1400 Dublin v Meath (Leinster SFC final) 
1600 Monaghan v Donegal (Ulster SFC final)

ON TV

SATURDAY
Sky Sports 3: Roscommon v Armagh & Wexford v Waterford (live from 1700)

SUNDAY
RTÉ Two: Dublin v Meath and Donegal v Monaghan live from 1315 via RTÉ Player and worldwide from GAAGO

ON RADIO 

Radio 1: Wexford v Waterford on Saturday Sport from 1445. Dublin v Meath from 1400 on Sunday Sport.
Newstalk: Roscommon v Armagh from 1700 on Saturday; Donegal v Monaghan from 1600 on Sunday.

WEATHER
Many areas will be dry and warm over the weekend, but there is a risk of thundery showers breaking out on both Saturday and Sunday.  

THE FIXTURES

ALL-IRELAND FOOTBALL QUALIFIERS ROUND 3B

Roscommon v Armagh, Dr Hyde Park
Those of a certain vintage will remember classic All-Ireland semi-final encounters between these sides in 1977 and 1980. Getting to the last four again would represent a really good summer for either side in 2014. Three more hurdles have to be jumped to get that far. The first of those should make for a compelling contest at the Hyde this Saturday.

Roscommon had it easier than expected when seeing off Cavan the last day. Rising star Diarmuid Murtagh and Enda Smith were to the fore for the Rossies, who clearly acted better on the greasy Breffni Park surface.  

Afterwards, manager John Evans made reference to the strength of his panel and that a number of players are now capable of stepping up and getting scores.

It wasn't quite a shock of seismic proportions, but Armagh's dismissal of Tyrone was, nevertheless, surprising. 

The defensive trio of Ciaran McKeever, Andy Mallon and Charlie Vernon marshalled the Orchard defence superbly throughout. As a result, Tyrone did not score for the final 23 minutes.

Keeping the Roscommon attack quiet for 70 minutes will be another challenge.

Verdict: Roscommon

Clare v Kildare, Cusack Park
Many will say "It was only Carlow", but chalking up 4-26 in any championship game is impressive. That's the tally that Clare reached at Dr Cullen Park on Sunday last

All Star hurler Podge Collins, Rory Donnelly, Podge McMahon and Shane Brennan all impressed for a Banner outfit who now have home advantage against the Lilywhites.

Jason Ryan's side, for their part, got back on track with a seven-point win over Down in Newry. They finished the game strongly, with Tommy Moolick's spectacular 69th-minute goal putting the seal on things.

They also were a lot tighter at the back compared to the slackness that undermined them in their provincial defeat to Meath.

All told, they should have enough to get past the challenge of an improving Clare outfit.

Verdict: Kildare 

ALL-IRELAND HURLING QUALIFIERS ROUND 2

Wexford v Waterford, Nowlan Park
After the emotion of finally getting past Clare, Wexford must now re-focus and prepare for a date with Derek McGrath's Waterford.

The Yellowbellies have really improved this season and if it wasn't for some poor shooting, the Banner would have been sent packing after 70 minutes in the drawn game. Questions will also arise as to how Liam Dunne's side couldn't seal the deal after Clare were reduced to 13 men in normal time in the replay.

That said, there is a feel-good factor about Wexford hurling and if they click and cut down on the wastefulness, then they are more than a match for anyone.

Waterford got their season back on track with a win over Laois on 28 June. Kevin Moran was in outstanding form that evening as the Déise prevailed with a bit to spare.

There is no doubt that Wexford have the momentum, but Waterford have had to time to analyse their opponents and will be no pushovers.

Verdict: Wexford 

LEINSTER SFC FINAL

Dublin v Meath, Croke Park
For the third year running, these age-old rivals will battle it out for the Delaney Cup.

It's been relatively straightforward for both in getting this far. A deeper analysis, however, would highlight the way Laois were really competitive for 50 minutes against Dublin in the quarter-final.

Meath were really enterprising in building up a commanding lead early in the second half against Kildare the last day. Whether it was a case of taking the foot of the gas.or just complacency, the Lilywhites bossed the final 20 minutes.

In his post-match assessment, Royals boss Mick O'Dowd demanded a full 70-minute performance against the Dubs in the decider. If they can do that, and have Shane O'Rourke and Brian Menton in charge in the middle sector, in tandem with Stephen Bray, Mickey Newman and Graham Reilly leading the charge up front, then the Royals have a chance.

However, the Dublin tide, when in full flow, is hard to stop. Limiting the effectiveness of Stephen Cluxton's kick-outs is one way to curb the threat.

Yet any side that can bring on Cormac Costelloe, Eoghan O’Gara, Jack McCaffrey, Tomás Brady and Michael Fitzsimons, as Dublin did against Wexford, underlines the talent that Jim Gavin has at his disposal.

Verdict: Dublin to prevail, but Meath to stick with them for longer than they did in the 2013 decider.          

ULSTER SFC FINAL

Donegal v Monaghan, Clones 
"Monaghan doing a Donegal on Donegal" was an often-used line to describe the Farney county's win over Jim McGuinness's side in last year's Ulster decider.

Malachy O'Rourke's men showed their intent right from the off last July. Donegal couldn't live with it. Two weeks later, Jimmy's lads were well and truly put to the sword against Mayo in the All-Ireland quarter-final.

A year on and Donegal will no doubt be determined to make amends for last year. Their path to Sunday's decider saw them up the intensity at crucial periods against Derry and Antrim. That enabled them get the required foothold and it was a case of seeing things out after that.

For Monaghan, their route was somewhat more tortuous. A narrow win over Tyrone was followed by a draw against Armagh. They upped their game in the replay and won comfortably.

Winning back-to-back titles would be huge for Monaghan. Donegal won't want to be bossed around like they were last year.

Looking ahead to to the final, RTÉ analyst Kevin McStay points to a Donegal panel that can make a difference in both performance and on the scoreboard. He highlighted the 2-07 scored from the bench against Antrim.

Verdict: Jimmy's lads to make it three Ulster titles from four. 

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