SATURDAY 14 MAY
Munster SFC semi-final
Tipperary v Limerick, FBD Semple Stadium, 7pm
SUNDAY 15 MAY
Leinster SFC semi-finals
Kildare v Westmeath, Croke Park, 2.15pm
Dublin v Meath, Croke Park, 4.30pm
Ulster SFC semi-final
Derry v Monaghan, Athletic Grounds, 4pm
Live blogs on RTÉ Sport Online and RTÉ News Now app.
Live coverage of Derry v Monaghan on BBC2 NI from 3.45pm. Kildare v Westmeath and Dublin v Meath can be viewed worldwide on GAAGO.
Highlights of all the weekend's action on The Sunday Game, RTÉ2 and the RTÉ Player, from 9.30pm.
Live commentaries and updates on Saturday Sport and Sunday Sport on RTÉ Radio 1 and in Irish on Raidió na Gaeltachta.
Saturday: Any lingering mist and fog patches will quickly clear to leave a dry day in most areas with varying cloud and sunny spells. Top temperatures of 16 to 19 degrees with light southwest or variable breezes.
Sunday: A dry day for most with sunny spells, though a few light showers are possible, mainly in the east. Maximum temperatures of 17 to 20 degrees generally but a little cooler on coasts as sea breezes develop. For more go to met.ie.
Qualifiers and Tailteann Cup picture
And so we reach mid May, a third of the way through this earlier-than-normal championship. Galway and Roscommon have already booked their places in the Connacht final, with the pairings for the other three provincial deciders to be decided over this weekend. For Tipperary and Westmeath, it's also an opportunity for them to avoid the inaugural Tailteann Cup if they can overcome Limerick and Kildare respectively.
It will organised geographically in northern and southern sections, up until the semi-final stage.
Competing teams have been assigned to northern and southern sections in advance of the draw, with the GAA confirming that any potential preliminary round will only feature teams from the southern section, those that have not reached a provincial semi-final.
Northern section: Antrim, Fermanagh, Down, Sligo, Longford, Longford, Leitrim, Cavan
Southern section: Waterford, Laois, Offaly, Wicklow, Carlow, Wexford, Tipperary if eligible, Westmeath if eligible, New York (enter at quarter-final stage)
Thy Kingdom await
Teams in the Munster province who came out on the opposite side of the draw to Kerry no doubt exhaled a huge sigh of relief. Clare, Limerick and Tipperary had their eyes on a Munster final. The Banner are no longer involved, losing out to the Treaty in that dramatic penalty shootout a fortnight ago. Tipp, as expected, took care of Waterford.
Billy Lee loves it when a plan comes together— The Sunday Game (@TheSundayGame) April 30, 2022
'The extra-time finished and I picked out five lads and we went into a huddle and someone said 'let lads put up their hands [to take one]' and as it turns out the five I picked were the five who put up their hands' #rtegaa pic.twitter.com/F0dNdKOq5K
Getting to a provincial decider would be a sign of more progress for Billy Lee's Limerick after gaining promotion to Division 2. The manager praised his troops for taking on "a seasoned team" like Clare, when speaking to RTÉ Sport afterwards. Robbie Bourke, Hugh Bourke and Josh Ryan lead from the front, while Iain Corbett continues to marshall things at the heart of the defence.
Tipperary, after a sluggish start to their Division 4 campaign, eventually found their groove, joining Cavan in getting promotion. The two sides played out an entertaining divisional decider at the start of April. The Breffni won by a point, though Tipp looked the more assured outfit.
Fast forward to last Sunday and Mickey Graham's side were more than competitive in putting it up to Donegal. If the form lines run true, you would favour the Premier to advance here, though with no degree of confidence.
David Power introduced six debutants in the win over the Déise, with Mikey O'Shea standing out on the half-forward line.
A date with Kerry is the prize for the victor. For Tipperary, that also means avoiding the Tailteann Cup. In any event the stakes are high, with both managers keen to continue the progress made so far.
- Tipperary last reached (and won) the Munster final in 2020; Limerick were last there in 2010.
Closing the gap on the Dubs and all that
Calls for the Leinster semis to be played away from Croke Park fell on deaf ears. To be honest, were they ever not going to be staged at GAA HQ?
The Dubs are eyeing a 12th title in 13 seasons. After their demolition of a poor Wexford side, there was talk that the rehabilitation had begun after their surprising relegation from Division 1.
With Con O'Callaghan back and Brian Fenton running the show on Slaneyside, Dublin, to be fair to them, looked slick. It's perhaps too early to say whether they're 'back'.
'Dublin are on their way back,' says Colm Cooper, after their impressive if facile dismantling of Wexford on Saturday evening, where Con O'Callaghan shone on his return #rtegaa pic.twitter.com/uybzhWNxqW— The Sunday Game (@TheSundayGame) May 1, 2022
During the league we thought that, following wins over Tyrone and Donegal, they would push on and secure survival. Monaghan put pay to that.
Meath will give Dessie Farrell's men more of a test than Wexford. Kildare, if they get to the Leinster final, are capable of asking more questions than the Royals. If they are still standing come the All-Ireland semi, the ultimate test for the Dubs will more than likely come from Kerry, most people's favourites to claim Sam. Of course there is also a potential tricky quarter-final, too.
Meath ran Farrell's side close at the corresponding stage last year. A similar effort would help to rekindle the days when the sides produced fare of the blockbuster variety. More pressure then on Andy McEntee's side to step it up, but the manager insists there is more in the tank following the win over Wicklow.
Dublin and Meath have met 65 times in the championship with Dublin winning 38 to Meath's 19. There were eight draws.
- The Royals have beaten their neighbours only once (2010) in their last ten championship games.
- Dublin are seeking their 35th successive win in the Leinster championship.
Kildare, in the words of Colm O'Rourke when previewing the weekend action on Morning Ireland, are "a big, mobile, high-scoring team". They chalked up 2-22 when seeing off the potential banana skin in Louth on 1 May. Early midfield and attacking dominance was instrumental in the Lilywhites' strong start. Louth's recovery was in vain, with Mickey Harte's men hit with another scoring surge in the final quarter.
Glenn Ryan and co would have been targeting a place in the final once the draw was made. Kildare were unlucky to drop out of Division 1. Ryan's somewhat awkward interview with RTÉ on the day of their relegation underlined much frustration.
Westmeath were full value for their victory over Longford in the quarter-final; revenge for their loss against the same opposition in Division 3, a reverse which dented any hopes of promotion.
John Heslin continues to be their main talisman, though the half-back line of Jamie Gonoud, Ronan Wallace and Nigel Harte, also contributed in keeping their opposite numbers quiet. The Kildare attack should provide another test of their credentials.
Thriller in store
There were mixed opinions as to how Donegal booked their place in the Ulster decider. So will the on-looking Derry and Monaghan now fancy that they could be the ones lifting the Anglo Celt on 29 May?
The northern province remains the most compelling. No surprise that many, whether we agree with them or not, see its continuation as paramount.
The Tyrone distress signals were flashing early on against Derry on 1 May. It's been a while since the reigning All-Ireland have been swatted aside with such ease when beginning their defence. Rory Gallagher's side were good, though.
The ambush was well flagged, but when the trap was sprung, the prey succumbed more readily than anyone could ever have imagined, as Derry handed out an 11-point hiding at Healy Park.
Yes, the Oakleafers may have tailed off a bit in their quest to make Division 1, but the promise they had shown earlier and in 2021 made them out as a team on the rise. A sporting harmony at play... at last.
"Just to play as a team, be absolutely united and do everything together," was how Gallagher summed up the plan for victory to RTÉ Sport.
"Just putting the team first, with or without the ball. I'm very impressed with the way they have committed to each other in the last 18 months.
"Didn't particularly enjoy the first eight or nine months but together with the county board we just kept building on it."
On his own animated behaviour on the sideline, Gallagher said this was only to communicate to his players how committed he was.
"I want to show our players what it means to us. We want to come here and fight and scrap for every ball. that's the bottom line."
Another scrap will be required against Monaghan; a constant presence in the footballing top-10 countdown for near to a decade now. They will have strong designs on regaining Ulster. It wouldn't be cocky for any Farney fan to say that a last-four spot in the All-Ireland race is not beyond them this year.
They cruised through to this juncture with a composed performance against Down, laced with an almost perfect return from attempts at the posts, 23 from 25. Jack McCarron, now leading the way.
- They meet in the championship for the first time since 2009 when Derry won both the Ulster quarter-final tie and All-Ireland qualifier.
- The Oakleafers are attempting to reach the Ulster final for the first time since 2011 when they lost to Donegal. Prior to that, they hadn't been in the final since 2000, last time they won it was 1998.