GAA Club Championship Preview – September 5th/6th

We have entered the month of September. Traditionally the month when the big prizes are handed out in the Inter-County game. This time around the GAA club championship is grabbing the headlines. No county titles to be handed out this weekend but they are some mouth-watering fixtures. Here are the top five games across Football and Hurling to feast your eyes upon.

Padraig Pearses vs Clann na nGael

South Roscommon Rivals Go Search of Final Berth

There is a familiar feel to this year’s Roscommon GAA club championship Football semi-finals. The powerhouses of the south of the county make up three of the four spots. Clann na nGael, Padraig Pearses and St. Brigid’s are joined by Boyle, who hails from the north of the county. One of the “big three” are guaranteed to contest this year’s Roscommon GAA club championship final. Clann na nGael and Padraig Pearses square off in the second part of Dr Hyde Park double-header on Sunday.

Padraig Pearses got the monkey off their backs last year. After seven previous defeats in county finals, the Woodmount side finally got over the line. The reigning champions flattered to deceive in the group stages. Last weekend, they sent out a warning signal to remind everybody they won’t be giving up their title easily. Ten points were the difference between themselves and Roscommon Gaels in a repeat of the 2019 decider. Pat Flanagan will be delighted with his side second-half display. Roscommon Gaels only managed a single score as Pearses raised an additional ten white flags to their first-half tally. Conor Daly, Ronan Daly and Hubert Darcy all stood up last Sunday.

Clann na nGael will feel they are where they belong after a disastrous 2019. The most successful club in Roscommon found themselves in relegation trouble. Twenty minutes in their opener vs St. Brigid’s, it looked like last year’s form was going to continue. Scoreless and trailing by ten points, the Johnstown men returned the game around to secure a draw. That fighting spirit on was on show again in the quarter-finals. With twenty minutes to go vs Western Gaels, Liam Kearns charges seemed destined not to see action in September. Losing by four points, Clann outscored their opponents seven points to one point. They had more left in their tank to prevail by half a dozen points. Cathal Shine and Ciaran Lennon have been remarkable this summer and they didn’t disappoint last Sunday.

Not only are these clubs’ neighbours but they are also the last two teams to lift the Fahey Cup. Clann na nGael in 2018 and Padraig Pearses twelve months ago. It is no wonder with that statistic, the TG4 cameras will be in Dr Hyde Park. Clear any plans for 3:50 pm on Sunday because this game will go down to the wire.

Clann na nGael players celebrate vs Padraig Pearses in the Roscommon SFC County Final in 2015.

Coalisland Fianna vs Trillick St. Macratan’s

Coalisland Aiming to Revenge Previous Defeats

Healy Park, Omagh plays host to the Tyrone GAA club championship Football semi-finals on Saturday evening. Errigal Ciaran and Dungannon meet at 7:30 pm in the second game. The 5: 30 pm game will spark the most interest among neutrals. There is no love lost between Coalisland and Trillick in recent years. Trillick dominates the rivalry winning the last two meetings, including a victory at the same stage in 2019.

Trillick found themselves in unfamiliar territory last weekend, participating in a penalty shout-out. Last year’s champions emerged victorious 4-3 in the shout-out vs Killyclogher. This was a novelty for the Tyrone GAA club championship. Lee Brennan late free ensured the game ended level after extra-time and laid the platform for the drama that followed. Galbally Pearses provided fewer headaches for the south Tyrone men in the opening round. Five points separated the sides three weeks ago. The defending title holders contain some of the best Footballers within the county. Mattie Donnelly and the Brennan brothers, Rory and Lee are three players that can lead any team to silverware.

There was no such tension for Coalisland in their last eight victory over Derrylaughan. However, they didn’t make matters easy for themselves. Coasting along 1-7 to 0-3 in front entering the final fifteen minutes, the game appeared done and dusted. A mini-collapse could have been more costly but they still triumphed by three points. Tiernan Quinn goal carried extra significance come the final whistle. Winning by a goal is becoming familiar with Coalisland. Their first-round clash with Clonoe O’Rahilly’s saw them succeed by the same margin. If Coalisland are to get one over Trillick, they need Michael McKernan and Plunkett Kane at their best.

Just like the situation in Roscommon, this is also the 2018 and 2019 champions going head-head. So, these are two teams who will have been expected to make the business end of the championship. Tyrone Football still gets the reputation of being branded with a negative style. Last Friday game between Trillick and Killyclogher was high scoring, enjoyable contest. Viewers on RTE 2 on Saturday evening will be hoping for more of the same.

Lee Brennan takes a shot for Trillick under pressure

Carbery Rangers vs Newcestown

Winner Takes All Clash in Ballinascarthy

The Cork GAA club championship Football group stages reach their conclusion this weekend. Only Castlehaven are guaranteed qualification to the knockout phase. Ilen Rangers are the sole team with nothing to play for. The meeting of Carbery Rangers vs Newcestown on Sunday at 2 pm is the isolated winner takes all fixture. Newcestown knows a draw will also get them over the line due to superior scoring difference.

Carbery Rangers will enter this game with their tails up. After a losing start vs Castlehaven, the Rosscarbery based club recorded a vital over Ilen Rangers last time out. A strong push after the second water break secured the all-important two points. Seamus Hayes and John O’Rourke were the heroes of the hour, combining for nine points. Hayes hasn’t let the south-west Cork side down in this campaign. Without his four points vs Castlehaven, the damage would have been a lot worse.

This will be the first GAA club championship encounter between these sides in nine years. Since then Carbery Rangers have always been knocking on the door with a breakthrough coming in 2016. Newcestown has struggled to make quarter-finals and featured in several relegation play-offs. The tables could turn on its head for 2020 come 3:30 pm on Sunday.

It has been roles reversed for Newcestown. They started with a comprehensive win over Ilen Rangers before Castlehaven brought them back down to earth. Trailing by three points coming into the final stretch, Newcestown faded away to lose by half a dozen. The dual-code club will be hoping to avoid suffering from fatigue again. Last year’s semi-finalists will be looking towards Cian Healy and captain Cárthach Keane for inspiration. Healy has seven points to his name while Keane chipped in with two goals vs Ilen Rangers.

Ballybrown vs Na Piarsaigh

Can High Scoring Ballybrown Cause an Upset?

After a four week break due to Football commitments, Hurling takes centre stage in Limerick once again. The Limerick GAA club championship Hurling quarter-finals are down for decision this weekend. Kilmallock and Patrickswell are already safety through to the last four. At 7 pm on Saturday in the Gaelic Grounds, Ballybrown and Na Piarsaigh will commence battle to join them.

Ballybrown are the highest scorers in the championship, manufacturing 9-43 from their two group games. Blackrock were seen off by ten points while Garryspillane were annihilated by twenty-six points. The 2016 runners-up are carrying serious momentum into the knockout stages. Eleven different players have popped up with scores but Andrew Cliffe is shooting the lights out with 3-18. That’s a tally most teams be happy with after two games never mind an individual player. If Josh Adams, Aidan O’Connor and Shane Kenny can also keep the umpires busy, there ever chance of an upset.

Na Piarsaigh enters the game as the heavy 1/16 favourites but it’s been far from perfect in this current campaign. They were dealt a blow before a ball was even pucked with Shane Dowling unexpected retirement. Worse was to follow with a two-point defeat to Kilmallock at the end of July. A point up at the interval, Graeme Mulcahy goal sprung the game in Kilmallock favour. The city club got back on track eight days later brushing off Ahane with the minimum of fuss. Mike Casey, Peter Casey and David Dempsey are just some of the young talent in their line-up. It’s a more experienced figure who ejected the most life into the 2016 All-Ireland champions. Back from a spell in London, Adrian Breen has been rolling back the years with his performances.

Ballybrown are going in search of their first semi-final since 2016. Strangely that’s the last time Na Piarsaigh failed to make the penultimate stage. It’s not just about making the final four for Na Piarsaigh. They will want to atone for last year’s county final defeat. Victory over Ballybrown is a must for them. The formbook indicts their backs need to be fully focused with the task ahead of them.

Na Piarsaigh players embrace after their Munster Club SHC Semi-Final win over Blackrock (Cork) in 2017

Ballyboden St. Enda’s vs Na Fianna

Ballyboden To End Na Fianna Upward Curve

The story of this year’s Dublin GAA club championship from a Hurling viewpoint has been Na Fianna journey. Predominately known for being a strong Football club, the small ball has taken off. Sunday in Parnell Park at 4:30 pm will present their biggest test vs Ballyboden in the semi-finals. Ballyboden are a club steeped in Hurling tradition and demand silverware every year.

Recent underage glory is starting to pay off for Na Fianna. In their last group game, the Glasnevin based club laid down a real marker beating Cuala. The game may have only been to decide top spot but it implied they are ready for the big boys. If they were still question marks surrounding Na Fianna being the real deal, they answered them emphatically vs Faughs. Goals from Donal Burke (two), Michael Murphy and Martin Quilty saw them run out 4-20 to 2-10 winners. Shane Barrett, Conor McHugh and Sean Currie have all been key on this fairy-tale adventure. If they can reach similar performance levels on Sunday, Na Fianna could be looking at another day out.

Ballyboden couldn’t have got off to a worse start, going down by fourteen points to Kilmacud Crokes. Two comprehensive victories over Scoil Ui Chonaill and Craobh Chiarain saw the south Dublin club still make the knockout phase. A potential banana skin in the form of St. Vincent’s awaited in the quarter-finals. Four points up at half-time, Boden upped the gears in the second thirty minutes to pull away comfortable winners. The 2018 county champions will be happy with their response since the Kilmacud game. Players like Paul Ryan, Conal Keaney and Niall McMorrow are all finding form at the right time. The occasion of a county semi-final will not faze these players.

Ballyboden will have their eyes on a double with the Footballers going strong. Conal Keaney and Simon Lambert are the only players that feature heavily for the Footballers. There is a great opportunity for these players to make history. Come 6 pm Sunday, both these players will hope they are one step closer to a unique achievement.

Ballyboden St. Enda’s Conal Keaney challenges a Cuala player during a recent encounter



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