HomeFootballFootball final previews: Munster and Connacht to crown champions

Football final previews: Munster and Connacht to crown champions


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Munster SFC final

Clare v Kerry

Cusack Park, 1.45

Clare’s already onerous task is exacerbated by Kerry having added incentive after an unconvincing win over Cork, paving the way for four changes, including a first championship appearance in six years in goal for Shane Murphy. Jason Foley’s recall is one of three defensive changes, with Brian Ó Beaglaoich also named.

Having the match in Ennis, hosting its first Munster final since 1919, will offer the home side some comfort but the reality is these meetings are often one-sided and sometimes grisly.

Since last year, when their defence was too easily sliced open, they’ve lost Ciaran Russell, Podge Collins and Cathal O’Connor to retirement, while Jamie Malone and Eoin Cleary took a year out to travel, and Keelan Sexton, Pearse Lillis and Cian O’Dea also moved abroad. In all, eight of today’s named team didn’t start last year’s final.

They have a useful midfield pairing in Darragh Bohannon and Brian McNamara and will try to prevent Kerry laying the match to rest as early as they did a year ago when eight points up after a quarter’s play.

Kerry: S. Murphy; P Murphy, J Foley, T O’Sullivan; B Ó Beaglaoich, T Morley, G White; D O’Connor, J O’Connor; D. Moynihan, P Clifford, C Burke; T Brosnan, D Clifford, S O’Shea.

Clare: S Ryan; M Doherty, C Brennan, R Lanigan; A Sweeney, C Rouine, I Ugwueru; D Bohannon, B McNamara; D Walsh, D Coughlan, G Murray; E McMahon, A Griffin, C Downes.

Verdict: Kerry.

Connacht SFC final

Galway v Mayo

Pearse Stadium, 4.0

Gradually, Galway’s jigsaw is being pieced together after a chronic injury list during the spring that at one point included 21 players. One of those, Damien Comer, is picked to start after a strong impact off the bench against Sligo, a match that also saw the return of Shane Walsh for his first game since the opening round of the league.

John Maher is also back in the fold, and with Matthew Tierney included in the squad, it paints a more positive outlook, even if they struggled to get over Sligo — helped in no small part by Comer’s introduction, scoring two points and setting up the winning injury-time goal for Rob Finnerty.

Mayo’s named selection shows no change to the team that beat Roscommon, but the squad is bolstered by the return of Cillian and Diarmuid O’Connor and Eoghan McLaughlin. The home team is hunting a first Connacht three-in-a-row in 40 years for the county and retribution for a hurtful loss to Mayo in the All-Ireland preliminary quarter-final meeting last June.

The All-Ireland draw leaves the winners facing a group containing Ulster’s runner-up, Derry and Westmeath, while the loser will be grouped with the Leinster champions, Roscommon and Cavan.

Galway: C Gleeson; J McGrath, S Fitzgerald, J Glynn; D McHugh, J Daly, L Silke; P Conroy, S Kelly; J Heaney, J Maher, C Darcy; R Finnerty, D Comer, S Walsh.

Mayo: C Reape; J Coyne, R Brickenden, S Callinan; P Durcan, D McBrien, D McHugh; S Coen, M Ruane; J flynn, F Boland, J Carney; A O’Shea, T Conroy, R O’Donoghue.

Verdict: Mayo.

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