Cavan host Monaghan in the first of this weekend’s three provincial football clashes. Here are our previews:
Saturday, May 18th
Ulster SFC quarter-final
Cavan v Monaghan, Kingspan Breffni, 7pm - Sky Sports
All roads lead to Kingspan Breffni on Saturday evening as Cavan and Monaghan square off in the Ulster senior football championship for the fourth time in seven seasons.
It’s the Farney men whom have held the upper hand on the three previous summer occasions, while the most recent meeting this past March in the National League saw them booking a 0-14 to 1-8 in Clones and all but consigning Mickey Graham’s team to relegation.
This weekend’s a whole new ball game though and should Cavan manage the 2/1 upset it will have felt like one that was a long time coming for Blues supporters over their loving neighbours.
Monaghan are without Darren Hughes for the first few rounds of the championship, but they have welcomed back both Kieran Hughes and Niall Kearns in recent weeks to fill that void left at midfield.
As for the Breffni men, talisman Gearoid McKiernan and Killian Clarke are expected to start around the centre while the contributions of Dara McVeety and Conor Madden in attack will be key if they are to hit the ground running this summer.
Sunday, May 19th
Connacht SFC semi-final
Sligo v Galway, Markievicz Park, 3.30pm
The winners here will be the first side through to a provincial final in 2019 and the bookmakers have defending champions Galway as 1/25 favourites.
Tribe boss Kevin Walsh revealed his hand on Thursday and it’s one that shows Bernard Power, Kieran Molloy, Gareth Bradshaw, and Fiontán Ó Curraoin all coming in from the unconvincing win over London in Ruislip on opening weekend.
As for Sligo, the experienced Adrian Marren leads their attack from full-forward with Castleconnor's Sean Carrabine selected by Paul Taylor to start on ‘the 40’.
The Yeats men are gunning for their first win over Galway since 2014, while the two counties’ meeting on this same stage last year saw the latter score a 21-point victory on route to the JJ Nestor Cup.
Ulster SFC quarter-final
Down v Armagh, Pairc Esler, 4pm - BBC deferred
Armagh boss Kieran McGeeney has opted to go with four debutants for this one as he gets set to blend youth with experience in Newry.
Ryan Kennedy, Jarlath Og Burns, Aidan Nugent and Rian O’Neill will all make their championship bows against Down on Sunday as the Orchard men bid for their first Ulster championship win since 2014.
Down held the upper hand when these two rivals crossed swords on the same stage at the same venue two years ago, and you get the feeling supremo Paddy Tally would happily take the same one-point margin of victory here and march towards an Ulster semi-final date with Cavan or Monaghan on June 2nd.
McGeeney’s charges are the favourites at 4/5, but odds often go out the window when it comes to derbies and this one could well end up going right down to the wire.
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