SATURDAY 16 FEBRUARY
AIB All-Ireland club SFC semi-finals
Corofin (Galway) v Gaoth Dobhair (Donegal), AvantCard Páirc Seán Mac Diarmada, 1.30pm
Dr Crokes (Kerry) v Mullinalaghta (Longford), Semple Stadium, 3.30pm
Live blog plus live score updates on RTÉ.ie and the RTÉ News Now App from 1pm.
Live commentary on Corofin v Gaoth Dobhair on RTÉ Radio 1 Extra from 1.25pm and continuing on Saturday Sport, RTE Radio 1 from 2pm. Commentator Pauric Lodge, with analysis from John Casey. Live commentary on Dr Crokes v Mullinalaghta from Martin Kiely and Bernard Flynn.
Both semi-finals live on TG4 from 1pm. Also available overseas on GAAGO.
Highlights of both games on Allianz League Sunday on RTÉ2 and the RTÉ Player from 9.30pm.
Saturday morning will be dry and bright with sunny spells. It will become cloudier in the afternoon with a little showery rain and mist developing at times. Towards evening time a more persistent band of rain will develop along the west coast. Highest temperatures of 10 to 12 degrees with moderate to fresh southerly winds. For more go to met.ie.
After a two-month break the journey continues
With a definite hint of spring in the air, the quest for club football supremacy is at the last-four stage. For the winners this weekend, it's another month before the St Patrick's Say decider. And while our National Holiday has become synonymous with club final day for well over 30 years now, before that it was the Railway Cup that took centre stage on 17 March.
After guiding St Brigid's to glory in 2013, Kevin McStay made reference to the set date in the calendar for the club deciders, hinting the the competition is too drawn out.
He is right. Corofin and Dr Crokes won their respective provincial crowns on 25 November, while Gaoth Dobhair ended their long wait for an Ulster crown on 2 December. And then Mullinalaghta, to joyous scenes and much national acclaim, achieved a maiden Leinster success on 9 December.
Momentum was very much with the four clubs in those early winter days and it will be interesting to see who is quickest out of the traps on Saturday?
Moves are now in place, as part of a Croke Park fixture review, for the club finals to be completed by the end of January. It may happen as early as 2020, and could be the forerunner for all GAA competitions to be completed within the calendar year.
Series of emotions
Gaoth Dobhair's narrow extra-time victory over Scotstown saw them become the first Donegal team to win the Ulster title since 1975. Needles to say there was much celebration afterwards as the Seamus McFerran Cup was paraded beneath Mount Errigal.
And then tragedy struck the locality on 27 January when Mícheál Roarty, a Gaoth Dobhair squad member, John Harley (both 24) Shaun Harkin (22) and 23-year-old Daniel Scott all died in a car crash.
All thoughts about football were put aside as the Gaoth Dobhair players and the rest of the community tried to process what happened.
On the night after the young men were laid to rest, the Donegal champions went back training.
Speaking to RTÉ Sport ahead of the semi-final, Gaoth Dobhair veteran and former inter-county player Kevin Cassidy said: "Obviously when it happened you don't really care about football to be honest. But then, in the back of your mind, you're thinking you've the biggest game of your life to play in a week or so time, so you have to get ready. That's really what we've been doing.
"It was good to be back with the boys and get back to something that feels normal to you. To get back to the sanctuary of the GAA pitch was good. Since then we've just rolled with it."
Should we have been surprised about Mullinalaghta's provincial glory? They had been knocking on the door for a couple of years. And size isn't always an accurate barometer when assessing the club game. Yes, Kilmacud Crokes are considered a 'super power' of a club in the capital city, but their players lacked the necessary drive when it mattered most on that second Sunday in December.
Longford's best deservedly won the day. Cue the celebrations and an appearance on The Late Late Show.
Mickey Graham's side will be even more the underdog against the Kerry champions, who have 13 county titles, eight Munsters and two All-Irelands to their name. Crokes are almost unabackable at around 1/14.
Yet, you suspect such odds may not carry much stock on the Longford/Cavan border, with team captain Shane Mulligan telling RTÉ Sport: "Within the Longford championship, you'd be punching above your weight as we'd be a very small club there. To win Championship was a big thing, being an underdog, to win three on the bounce has been huge and then to win Leinster.
"There's no underestimating the talent that's in that Dr Crokes team. They've been on this road before and a lot of them have been in with the Kerry set-up so you've seen them there.
"We'll try make sure we get our own lads to deliver their own performance on the day, because we're not going to go and say, 'Let's park the bus and try see how we get on.' We're going to try and deliver our own performance and be as competitive as we can and see where it takes us."
Familiar names and much attacking intent
Corofin were most impressive in dismantling Nemo Rangers in last year's All-Ireland final. Apart from encountering a speed bump against Mountbellew-Moylough in the drawn county final, Kevin O'Brien's side have by an large impressed in the campaign so far.
They have their sights on a fourth All-Ireland crown and in All Star forward Ian Burke, they a fleet-footed marksman who can make a telling difference.
Burke goaled with his first touch when introduced in the Connacht final against Ballintubber. That sparked a period of domination for the Galway side that would ultimately see them over the line.
The Farragher brothers, Gary Sice and Kieran Fitzgerald are other key names in the Corofin line-up.
With Kevin Cassidy, the McGee brothers and Odhran MacNiallais on the opposing side, the first of the semis promises to be a cracker.
The now 38-year-old Fitzgerald is likely to be marking Gaoth Dobhair's own veteran, former Donegal wing-back turned full-forward Cassidy.
"Our combined age is into the 70s or 80s," laughs Fitzgerald, when speaking to RTÉ Sport.
"He's (Cassidy) flying. I would have come across him on the inter-county scene as well. He's a two-time All-Star and he is a real big player for Gaoth Dobhair among many others they have. He has really turned it on this year and he's a real leader for them as well.
"You see in games how he's driving them on. He was very effective against Scotstown (in the Ulster final) and in the other games as well. He's a big strong footballer and whoever is marking him will have their hands full.
"They've some very skilful players. Odhran MacNiallais is one of the classiest footballers in Ireland. They really go for it and that's what we're expecting Saturday evening.
"They counter-attack really quickly and they're not afraid to attack. I expect a good game and both teams to go at it."
Everybody is expecting them to be at Croker in a month's time, yet the Kerry champs will not be underestimating Mullinalaghta.
For Crokes' Fionn Fitzgerald, it's as much about seeing how well they hit the ground in Thurles, close to three months on from claiming a seventh provincial title in nine years.
"It's always a strange one as you you have momentum going, you're flying, lot of games, week in, week out, from say September to December and then you have this three month break," he outlined to RTÉ Sport.
"You’re kind of trying to gauge where you're at a couple of months ago and where you're at now.
"You don't really have a gauge really because you've no competitive games so you're just looking forward to the game really but there's an element really of not knowing fully where you're at really."