The All-Ireland senior football championship qualifiers kick off this weekend while there are provincial finalists to be decided in Ulster and Leinster. Here are our previews:
Saturday, June 8th
All-Ireland SFC qualifiers round 1
Offaly v London, O'Connor Park, 1.30pm
The early throw-in is in Tullamore on Saturday and sees London looking to make inroads on their opening showing against Galway by putting John Maughan’s Offaly side out of the championship.
The Faithful men pushed Meath all the way in Round 1 of the Leinster championship last month and should have enough to get the job done against the Exiles.
It’ll be the third qualifier clash between these two, with the Leinster men having won the last two comprehensively.
Leitrim v Wicklow, Pairc Sean MacDiarmada, 3pm
Wicklow head for Carrick-on-Shannon as underdogs this weekend despite their strong showing against Kildare in Round 1 of the Leinster championship last month.
Leitrim had the perfect league campaign under Terry Hyland, barring a Division 4 title at the end of it, and know they’ll be in for a battle when the Garden men come to visit.
Hyland has handed Ballinamore Sean O’Heslin’s clubman Oisin McCaffrey a first ever start for his county at midfield, while Aidan Flynn (Leitrim Gaels) comes into defence from their Roscommon defeat.
Wexford v Derry, Innovate Wexford Park, 4.45pm
Derry make the long trip south for this one looking to build on a decent performance against Tyrone in the preliminary round of the Ulster championship.
Speaking ahead of this one, Oak Leaf County boss Damien McErlain stated that “the qualifiers are about momentum” and, if his side can get into any rhythm at all at Innovate Wexford Park, they should have no issues.
Wexford fell apart late after leading Louth in their provincial championship opener and face what should be a much stiffer test this weekend.
Louth v Antrim, Gaelic Grounds, 7pm
These two last collided in the qualifiers in 2013 when Louth scored a 1-17 to 1-11 victory in Drogheda.
The hosts in Drogheda are favourites (2/5) to get the job done against Antrim and deservingly so, having defeated Wexford in their Leinster championship opener last month.
Antrim netted two goals in their provincial loss to Tyrone and will fancy their chances of causing an upset in the Wee County.
Ulster SFC semi-final
Tyrone v Donegal, Kingspan Breffni, 5pm - RTE/BBC live
The big clash on Saturday is in Cavan town as Mickey Harte’s Tyrone side look to dethrone Donegal of the Anglo-Celt Cup and move into an Ulster final in the process.
The Red Hands are set to enter as 8/13 favourites with aces such as Cathal McShane, Mattie Donnelly and Peter Harte displaying impressive form during the past couple of assignments.
Donegal have welcomed Paddy McBrearty back since their Division 2 success and Harte’s defence will be all too familiar with the threat he, Jamie Brennan and Michael Murphy carry inside.
The winners of this one will be red-hot favourites for the northern province’s decider on June 23rd, with either Cavan or Armagh looking to tear up the script.
Sunday, June 9th
Leinster SFC semi-finals
Meath v Laois, Croke Park, 2pm
Laois head for Croke Park looking to make it back-to-back Leinster finals and come up against a Meath outfit which had minimal fuss in dispatching Carlow the last day.
John Sugrue’s charges are 9/4 underdogs to topple the Royals at headquarters and there’ll be plenty to fancy those odds given the O’Moore men’s championship record against this opposition in recent meetings.
Meath have only beaten Laois in one of their last five championship clashes – in the 2010 Leinster SFC quarter-finals (after a replay), while the 2012 qualifiers was the last meeting and saw Laois clinch a 1-15 to 1-12 victory.
Both teams have unquestionably made strides since their respective managements have come in, making this one all the more difficult to call but it’s Meath that get the nod to edge it.
Dublin v Kildare, Croke Park, 4pm
The Dubs return to Croker on Sunday and, to no surprise, are 1/80 favourites to send Cian O’Neill’s Kildare into the qualifiers.
The capital men have reached (and won) the Leinster final in 13 of the last 14 seasons, only missing out in 2010 when Meath hit five goals to defeat them in the semis.
Louth were crushed in the All-Ireland champions’ last outing and while the Lilywhites should keep the margin much tighter this weekend, they simply don’t look like defeating this opposition for the first time in the championship in 19 years.
O’Neill’s men only edged past Wicklow in Round 1 before defeating Longford comprehensively (after a replay).
Ulster SFC semi-final replay
Cavan v Armagh, Clones, 4pm
These two return to Clones after last weekend’s gruelling contest couldn’t separate them despite extra time being played at St Tiernach’s Park.
Cian Mackey’s scoring contribution off the bench proved crucial for Cavan the last day, especially after conceding Jarlath Og Burns’ goal early in the second-half.
Those three points could see Mackey earn a start on Sunday, but defender Ciaran Brady is suspended while Armagh’s Brendan Donaghy remains banned after an appeal against the red card he picked up for an off-the-ball incident with Killian Clarke was upheld on Thursday night.
Last Sunday’s clash was airtight and the same can be expected again this weekend, with Cavan getting the nod to just shade it the second time round.
All-Ireland SFC qualifiers round 1
Monaghan v Fermanagh, Clones, 1.45pm
Sunday’s derby opener at Clones sees hosts Monaghan as 2/9 favourites to bring the curtain down on Fermanagh’s season.
The Ernesiders sent Malachy O’Rourke’s charges crashing out of the Ulster championship this time last year and will hold no fears making the short trip to take on their neighbours once more.
Farney fans will feel that their well below par first-half showing was what cost them in the end against Cavan last month and how they’d love to see their team hit the ground running on home turf this Sunday.
Should Monaghan manage that they could be looking at a comfortable win, while anything else might just see it going down to the wire again between these two.
Down v Tipperary, Pairc Esler, 2pm
This is set to be the first qualifier clash between these two sides since Down recorded a 1-13 to 0-11 win over the Premier men in Mullingar in 2012.
Tipperary have contested an All-Ireland SFC semi-final since then but this season has not gone according to script for manager Liam Kearns and his players.
After suffering relegation from Division 2, they were rocked by an opening loss to Limerick in the Munster championship and face a tall order in trying to upset the Mourne men in Newry on Sunday.
Carlow v Longford, Netwatch Dr Cullen Park, 3pm
It’s more Leinster opposition for these two on Sunday as they look to keep their season alive at Netwatch Dr Cullen Park.
Carlow got crushed by Meath last time out while Longford lost out to Kildare in a replay, suggesting that the Midlanders are the safer bet for this one.
Carlow have home advantage in their favour but are without suspended midfield duo Brendan Murphy and Sean Murphy and Padraig Davis’s men may prove a bit too strong at the finish for them.
Westmeath v Waterford, TEG Cusack Park, 3pm
This one’s set to be the first ever championship meeting between these two and it sees Jack Cooney’s Westmeath entering as strong 1/10 favourites.
The Lake County are looking for their first qualifier win since beating Louth seven years ago and this seems the ideal opportunity, especially with home advantage in their favour.
Waterford ran Clare close in their championship opener last month and now head for Mullingar looking to try and defy the odds once more.
Follow the hoganstand.com live match tracker this weekend for latest score and minute-by-minute updates from the football and hurling championships.Tweet