SFC previews: Returnees to get Red Hands over the line

May 18, 2018

Down and Tyrone fans throng the streets of Clones before the 2018 Ulster SFC final at St Tiernach's Park.
©INPHO/Morgan Treacy.

The Munster senior football championship commences on Saturday evening while up north things really heat up when Anglo-Celt Cup holders Tyrone open their defence against Monaghan on Sunday. Here are our previews for the weekend:


Saturday, May 19th

Ulster SFC quarter-final

Fermanagh v Armagh, Brewster Park, 7pm - BBC iPlayer

These two cross swords for the third time in two months and thus far there has been little to separate them.

Armagh's last visit to Enniskillen in mid-March saw them fight back from a four-point deficit (in a game where 0-14 was shared in the end) to earn a precious point and beat Fermanagh to promotion, before the Ernesiders followed them into Division 2 with a late victory over Longford.

That set-up a Croke Park meeting in April which saw Andrew Murnin's contribution immense for the Orchard men, while their opponents lost their own ace attacker Sean Quigley to a black card just two minutes in.

Rory Gallagher has named both Sean and Seamie Quigley in his full-forward line for Saturday and the Roslea brothers would likely prove the visitors' undoing if they catch fire in this Ulster quarter-final clash.

Kieran McGeeney's options for his front line aren't bad either, having flanked Murnin with Ethan Rafferty and Rory Grugan in last month's Division 3 decider, so we could well be looking at a shoot-out at Brewster Park.

Verdict: Armagh

Munster SFC quarter-finals

Limerick v Clare, Gaelic Grounds, 7pm

Last year's meeting at the very same juncture saw Clare scraping past Limerick and surely the Banner men will have learned some lessons from that occasion.

Limerick ended up with just one win in Division 4 this season while their neighbours thrived at times two divisions above to the point where they eventually finished third behind promotion winners Roscommon and Cavan.

Eoin Cleary, David Tubridy and Keelan Sexton remain the main attacking threats for Colm Collins, who is now in his fifth season in charge, and while his team are currently 33/1 to win out the southern province, it won't discourage them from hitting the ground running at the Gaelic Grounds on Saturday

Verdict: Clare

Tipperary v Waterford, Semple Stadium, 7pm

Tom McGlinchey's Waterford side nearly sprung the upset of 2017 when they ran Cork to within a point at this very same stage.

However, from what he has to say lately, the Deise boss does not see his team toppling Tipperary on Sunday, stating during the week: "Let's be realistic here, Tipp are probably going to beat us and beat us well."

Considering the Premier men's progress over the past two seasons, it's hard to envisage the visitors pulling off a shock result at Semple Stadium on Saturday.

Michael Quinlivan and Conor Sweeney were again on-song throughout the National League while Liam McGrath adds another deadly element to the Tipp attack.

Liam Kearns' charges should be comfortable here throughout.

Verdict: Tipperary


Sunday, May 20th

Ulster SFC quarter-final

Tyrone v Monaghan, Healy Park, 4pm

This was the stand-out fixture up north after the draws were made back in October and hopefully the game will live up to the hype in Omagh, where fans will have to attend if they want to see the match live.

Tyrone have shown their hand early for the opening round of their title defence and it's a strong one, which sees key pair Tiernan McCann and Colm Cavanagh returning from injury lay-offs while Lee Brennan - the top scorer in Division 1 this season with 2-30 - is also fit after overcoming a hamstring injury.

The Trillick ace will take some watching from Monaghan's defence on Sunday, as will Conor McAliskey and Mark Bradley, and the Farney men's performances throughout the National League certainly suggest they're capable of doing so.

When these two met in Castleblayney back in February it was the early second-half introduction of Conor McManus that swung the tide for Malachy O'Rourke's men at St Mary's Park, where it finished 0-15 to 0-14 to the visitors.

They cross swords again in two days' time and it may well be just as tight with the stakes much higher this time round.

Verdict: Tyrone

Stay up-to-date with this weekend's football and hurling championship action on our Match Tracker where we will be bringing live updates and scores from around the grounds.

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