Last weekend we were treated to three excellent encounters in the hurling, with Dublin v Kilkenny on Saturday evening and the two gripping Munster Championship games on Sunday afternoon. Kilkenny, Clare and Tipperary earned the bragging rights from those contests.
In football, we got games that were a lot closer than many people, including myself, had envisaged. The biggest upset of the weekend was Limerick’s fantastic victory over Tipperary. Limerick were +9 in the handicap betting and remarkably ended up winning by seven points.
This weekend we have more fascinating contests in both codes to look forward to.
On Saturday evening football takes centre stage as Ulster neighbours Cavan and Monaghan lock horns in Breffni Park. This game will be shown live on Sky Sports Arena.
While on Sunday it’s back to the Munster Hurling Championship as All-Ireland Champions Limerick host Cork. This intriguing match-up will be televised live on RTÉ2.
Ulster Football Championship – Cavan v Monaghan (Throw-in @ 7pm, live on Sky Sports Arena, on 18/05):
Both of these teams go into this game not in the best of form, after Cavan were relegated from Division 1 and Monaghan just about stayed up with just two victories. We all know however that league form goes out the window when it comes to the championship, especially when the rivalry is as fierce as Cavan versus Monaghan.
Monaghan have had the Indian sign over their neighbours in recent times, but these have always been close games. The difference between the sides in the past few season has been Conor McManus. Cavan just don’t have this type of marquee forward who has come up with big scores when it mattered in recent encounters.
— eir Sport (@eirSport) June 11, 2017
The difference in quality between the two forward lines could once again be Cavan’s downfall. Monaghan have other dangerous forwards in speedsters Conor McCarthy and Stephen O’Hanlon who will both take watching. Newcomer O’Hanlon in particular has a real eye for goal and in what could be a war of attrition, a goal could be a massive score in this clash.
One area where Cavan will be hoping to be dominant is in midfield. You can expect to see Killian Clarke and Gearoid McKiernan operating around there at certain times in the game, and considering Darren Hughes is sidelined for the Farney men with a broken ankle, Cavan will try to exploit his absence.
Last year’s All-Star nominee Niall Kearns had undergone heart surgery in the off-season, and although he has played a few games with his club Sean McDermott’s in recent weeks, it remains to be seen if he will be fit to last a full 70 minute Ulster Championship match.
Playing in Breffni Park is another advantage for Mickey Graham’s charges. However, this Monaghan team have shown they know how to get over the line against Cavan.
It may not be pretty but it will certainly be intriguing, and I fancy Monghan to get over the line in a close game.
Verdict: Monaghan @ 8/15
Munster Hurling Championship – Limerick v Cork (Throw-in @ 4pm, live on RTÉ2, on 19/05):
On Sunday afternoon All-Ireland Champions Limerick enter the championship frame after watching their other four Munster counterparts battle it out last weekend.
There is no doubt that expectations are high about this young vibrant Limerick side, after they followed up last year’s Liam McCarthy with an impressive National League title at the end of April.
Cork on the other hand will be very disappointed with the level of their performance last Sunday at home to Tipperary. Defensively they have to improve massively if they are to contain Aaron Gillane and co this Sunday.
Up front their over reliance on Patrick Horgan’s brilliance was extremely evident. Séamus Harnedy did weigh in with a fine goal in the second half, but for the most part Horgan was putting it up to Tipp on his own. Some of the Glen Rovers’ man’s scores were quite sublime. Cork always have a chance when he is playing because he is one of the best forwards in the country.
John Meyler himself pointed out after Sunday’s game that they missed Bill Coopers presence at midfield and how he usually gets on the scoreboard for the Rebels. They will be hoping that Cooper will be passed fit so they can counteract Cian Lynch’s influence in this area for Limerick.
It is worth remembering though that barring a miraculous Nicky Quaid save in last year’s All-Ireland Semi-Final, Limerick would have been denied their first All-Ireland title in 45 years, so that will show you the fine margins between the top teams in the country.
— John FitzGerald (@Jdbfitzgerald) July 29, 2018
When you take into account Limerick’s form over the past 12 months and factor it in with Cork’s disjointed display last Sunday, it’s hard to see anything but a Treaty victory. However, you can expect a reaction from the Rebels in another hotly contested Munster Championship game.
Verdict: Limerick @ 1/2
(Saturday 18th of May – Sunday 19th of May)
Ulster Football Championship:
Down v Armagh Verdict: Armagh @ 4/5 (Sun)
Connacht Football Championship:
Sligo v Galway Verdict: Galway -10 (Handicap Betting) @ 5/6 (Sun)
Munster Hurling Championship:
Tipperary v Waterford Verdict: Tipperary -2 (Handicap Betting) @ 8/11 (Sun)
Leinster Hurling Championship:
Joe McDonagh Cup: