Sunday, 15 November

Connacht SFC final

Galway v Mayo, Pearse Stadium, 1.30pm

Leinster SFC semi-finals

Meath v Kildare, Croke Park, 1pm
Dublin v Laois, Croke Park, 3.30pm

Ulster SFC semi-final

Cavan v Down, Athletic Grounds, 1.30pm

TV

Live coverage of Sunday's Connacht SFC final between Galway and Mayo on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player, commencing at 1pm. 

There will also be live coverage of both Leinster SFC semi-finals on RTÉ News, with Meath v Kildare throwing in at 1pm while Dublin v Laois commences at 3.30pm.

Highlights of all the matches on The Sunday Game on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player from 9.30pm.

RADIO

Commentary and live updates from all the action on Sunday Sport on RTÉ Radio 1. 

ONLINE

Live blogs on all games on RTÉ.ie and the RTÉ News app and video highlights on social media.

WEATHER

Widespread showers and some longer spells of rain and risks of hail and isolated thunderstorms. There will be good sunny spells though. Highest temperatures of 9 to 12 degrees in light to moderate southerly winds

More at met.ie.

Team News - view here.

Back to tradition out west

It's hard to credit given their much vaunted consistency over the past decade but this is the first time Mayo have reached the Connacht final in five years. 

We've had four straight years of Galway-Roscommon deciders, both winning two apiece. 

In that four-year spell, Mayo have still reached two All-Ireland finals and another All-Ireland semi-final. It was only in the Newbridge or Nowhere saga of 2018 that they failed to navigate their way through the backdoor. 

Between 2016 and 2018, Mayo got into an unfortunate habit of losing to Galway but James Horan is back now. The Ballintubber man has won all four championship encounters against Galway across his two spells in charge. 

Galway's 'journey' to this point is somewhat reminiscent of their hurlers' journey to the All-Ireland semi-final back in the days of yore. 

A coronavirus outbreak in the Sligo ranks meant Galway, unlikely to be tripped up by Division 4 opposition in any event, got a walkover into a provincial final. 

It's highly dubious whether this is advantageous. Sure, there are no banana skins to avoid and the hurlers were famed for their capacity to spring an 'ambush' back in the 80s but, still, it's not exactly ideal preparation.

The lead-up has been dominated with talk of the recent League game, with Mayo running up a quite absurd score in the opening half and administering a beating which had, for Galway fans, uncomfortable echoes of Salthill 2013. 

James Horan

Galway had been the form team in the country in the spring and were heavily depleted heading into that game in Tuam but it still caused some disquiet. The westerners were considerably better against the Dubs, with Paul Conroy delivering a terrific display in the middle third and the six-point margin was a harsh reflection.

Padraic Joyce is without his totemic full-forward Damien Comer but they are boosted by the return of the exuberant Shane Walsh. The 2018 All-Star corner forward Ian Burke has also recovered from the leg injury picked up against Dublin and is fit to play. Both start in an exciting full-forward line alongside Moycullen star Dessie Conneelly. 

Mayo, widely written off as a spent force after last year, have been infused with a new optimism, thanks to the emergence of a raft of new players and the strong form of some older ones. 

Tommy Conroy, Oisin Mullin and Ryan O'Donoghue all impressed against Roscommon with the older crop, particularly the O'Connor brothers, looking re-energised. Horan has tossed exciting attacker Mark Moran into the fray for Sunday.  

With the winners of Cork-Tipperary awaiting in the All-Ireland semi-final, Connacht's big two will see this as a major opportunity. 

Ulster's bear-pit

We noted earlier the trials and tribulations that Galway have had to endure - namely, getting no championship game in before the Connacht final. 

As Malachy Clerkin was quick to remind us on the RTÉ GAA Podcast this week, those above in Ulster will not be breaking out the Stradivarius. 

The knockout championship is at its most cut-throat up north. To illustrate, Cavan have beaten Monaghan and Antrim, they're still only in the semi-final and I've heard at least one of their supporters (not typical I'm sure) idly ruminating on 'the easy side of the draw'.

Mickey Graham and the Cavan players after their win against Monaghan

Seeking to reach a second Ulster final in succession, Mickey Graham's side face Down in the Athletic Grounds. The latter won handily away to Fermanagh in the quarter-final, an outcome which probably has to be viewed in the context of Fermanagh's Covd-19 related travails. 

For Paddy Tally's side, Barry O'Hagan impressed notching four points while Caolan Mooney's lightening pace caused problems. 

Cavan's dramatic extra-time win over Monaghan sparked (socially distanced) joy in the county. Their quarter-final win over Antrim was regarded as laboured and uninspiring by comparison.

Recent championship form suggests Cavan are favourites but the two swapped places in the league this winter (albeit Down were rather fortunate) and Tomas Ó Sé foresees a mild surprise. 

Leinster trundles on

The Leinster SFC - which for many years now has served as the greatest single argument for abandoning the provincial championships - reaches the last-four stage to the sound of great shrugs from the neutrals. 

There is some mild interest in Meath-Kildare.

The two teams have been relatively evenly matched over the past decade, but this isn't much to boast about. 

Kildare won the last match-up, the 2017 Leinster semi-final, on a handsome scoreline of 2-16 to 0-13 in the heat of Tullamore. 

Daniel Flynn, who starts at corner forward, celebrating against Meath in 2017

Both have, at least, looked respectable since the restart. Meath lost by a creditable four-point margin in Parnell Park before gaining their only point of an otherwise difficult Division 1 campaign against Monaghan. They proceeded to hammer the tar out of a Wicklow outfit who had won their three previous matches. The U20 from Nobber, Jordan Morris, filled his boots, scoring 3-04. 

Kildare are on a three-game winning streak, making a late surge for promotion with impressive wins over Cavan and Westmeath. Their margin of victory over Offaly was underwhelming but perhaps John Maughan and his team are due some credit for that. Darragh Kirwan emerged as the brightest spark in the forwards, notching five points plus a mark.

Jack O'Connor has made one change from the Offaly game, with Matty Byrne replacing Fergal Conway at half-forward. 

This is hard to call. 

The other semi-final is not hard to call. 

Laois have had a curious year, flirting heavily with both relegation to Division 3 and with Leinster quarter-final exit to Longford, before pulling it out of the fire on each occasion. 

Goalkeeper Niall Corbet made a couple of great saves when they were on the rack in Longford, while Gary Walsh in full-forward has been a trojan figure all year, accumulating big scores in the crucial games in Brewster Park and Glennon Brothers Pearse Park. 

Ross Munnelly, who turns 38 next month, is still plugging away, coming on to kick a mark in the second mark. 

The overwhelming likelihood is Laois's victory prolongs their involvement in the championship by just the extra week. 

The Dubs, with relative newbie Sean Bugler clipping over 0-02, ran out 11-point winners against Westmeath, which was probably at the lower end of the anticipated margin. 

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