GAA

Five Club Games To Head To This Weekend

Five Club Games To Head To This Weekend

Dublin and Tipperary may have been experiencing some wild beery nights over the last few weeks but already we're moving on. We're diving head first into the world of club football.

It's a long season - one that goes all the way to Croke Park on St Patrick's Day - and while its already well underway in the vast majority of counties across the country the onset of autumn means we're now getting down to real business of it all.

Naturally there's a plethora of games occurring in all corner of the country this weekend but a few in particular catch the eye. Here are just some of the mouthwatering ties taking place.

 

Corofin/Mountbellew-Moylough (Galway SFC - Quarter-final)

On paper this may have all the signs of a one-sided bore-fest: Corofin, touted as possibly the greatest club side in history, are protecting a hegemony in Galway that has seen them retain the Frank Fox cup every year since 2013, while Mountbellew-Moylough are still looking for a first title since 1986.

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But of all the sides that have attempted to derail the Corofin locomotive over the past 24 months, when the the rural club have put back-to-back All-Ireland titles together, Mountbellew-Moylough have come closest after pushing the star-studded outfit to a replay in last year's county final - as they did in 2009. They ultimately fell short - as they did in 2015 and 2017, and there are clear signs of animosity being harboured between the two, last year's county final replay having produced four red cards. Should the two channel that energy appropriately spectators in Tuam Stadium on Sunday are guaranteed a barnstorming battle.

If the hot favourites for the county title are to be upset this year, you feel it must come as early as possible and there is no team better placed than the East Galway club to claim the scalp.

 

Cuala/Kilmacud Crokes (Dublin SHC - Quarter-final)

The long prelude to this is by all accounts compelling. Cuala overcome Kilmacud Crokes in the 2016 county final en route to winning their first All-Ireland club title. 12 months later they beat their Stillorgan rivals again in the county final to seal a third county final in a row, before claiming yet another All-Ireland title just a few months later.

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But last year Crokes finally toppled their South Dublin rivals, knocking the standard-bearers out of the county championship at the semi-final stage with a two-point win. Unfortunately for Kilmacud, they were unable to catapult themselves forward, losing to Ballyboden St Enda's in a county final replay.

So both clubs arrive in Parnell Park on Sunday with a whole pile to prove. Crokes are still looking for their first title since 2014; Cuala seek a return to ultra-domination. At the beginning of the year, a quarter-final loss would surely have fallen well below the expectations of both outfits. Nevertheless, one giant must go.

 

Roslea Shamrocks/Derrygonnelly (Fermanagh SFC - Final)

Just like Dublin, Derrygonnelly are seeking to tighten their grip on Erneside supremacy by completing a formidable five-in-a-row. But their opposition are no strangers to county final successes having won four of the previous five county titles prior to Derrygonnelly's current reign.

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Interestingly, the West Fermanagh club have only defeated Shamrocks, located in the far east of the county, in one county final during their current reign - the 2015 decider, - and, in Fermanagh, Shamrocks will always pose a significant threat on the biggest day of the club season at Brewster Park.

It's West versus East, the Jones family versus the Quigleys, the seven-time champions versus the 12-time champions. Clearly both clubs have county triumphs intertwined in the fabric of their club history but they have hitherto failed to find glory on the Ulster stage - nor have any Fermanagh club for that matter. Sunday represents an opportunity from which to leap forward and attempt to end that unfortunate trend.

TG4 will broadcast the game live on Sunday.

 

Patrickswell/Doon (Limerick SHC - Semi-final)

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Patrickswell have Diarmuid Byrnes, one of the most menacing half-backs in the game. Doon have Richie English, one of the stickiest markers to be found with an All-Star to his name. Doon have Darragh O'Donovan, a midfield powerhouse who can bend a game to his will. Patrickswell have Cian Lynch, the reigning Hurler of the Year.

But Patrickswell also have Aaron Gillane, arguably the most potent corner-forward presently around. Not to be outdone, Doon have Pat Ryan, the unheralded full-forward who scorched this weekend's opponents in last year's semi-final with a tally of 1-2 from play. One moment of electrifying skill in particular from the Limerick player resulted in a phenomenal first half goal that ultimately helped his side to a one-point win.

Na Piarsaigh are the current champions and a momentous three-in-a-row is still on the cards, but while the gap may seem like a wide one to leap last year's meeting between these two, at this same stage, suggests this can be nothing but a thriller.

TG4 will broadcast deferred coverage of the game on Sunday.

 

Nemo Rangers/St Finbarr's (Cork SFC - Quarter-final)

Last year was a historic one for St Finbarr's. The Togher club bridged a three-decade gap, that included eight county final losses, when winning their first Cork title since 1985. Now, you can only assume, ambitions have been raised and in front of them and another semi-final appearance are the very outfit that deprived them of county glory in 2017, Nemo Rangers.

After no separating the pair two years ago they came back to Páirc Ui Chaoimh to produce a seven-goal thriller, Rangers eventually edging out a two-point win. The Cork champions then went on a run that saw them go all the way to Croke Park on St Patrick's Day only to fall victim to a extraordinary Corofin side. St Finbarr's may not have made it that far, losing to Dr Crokes in the Munster semi-final, but it was their first time in 33 years winning a county title. And they've surely learned from it.

Nevertheless Nemo will always demand respect, topping the roll of honour not only in Cork but also in Ireland. They've captured the Andy Merrigan cup on no less than seven occasions. St Finbarr's have collected the All-Ireland club title on three occasions but, rather pertinently, they remain the reigning county champions - for now.

SEE ALSO: Quiz: Can You Identify These 9 Irish Grounds From The Road Outside?

Aonghus Ó Maicín

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