GAA Football

Ballintubber should give Corofin a better test than the bookies think

Reigning All-Ireland champions Corofin meet Ballintubber on Sunday.

Connacht Club SFC final: Ballintubber (Mayo) v Corofin (Galway) (tomorrow, 2pm, MacHale Park, live on TG4)

IF there's an omen out there for Ballintubber, it's that only once in the last nine years has the Connacht club title ended up spending its winter in the same county as the Nestor Cup.

2013 provincial champions Castlebar were the only team to have managed it since Corofin last did it in 2008.

But there were certainly no signs of fatigue in the performance Kevin O'Brien's side put on in the semi-final, when they walloped poor Clann na Gael.

They were even without Allstars Ian Burke (football) and his namesake Daithi (hurling), but with relative unknown Jason Leonard hitting 2-6 and Michéal Lundy grabbing 1-3 from play, there were 28 white flags between them by the end of it.

That contrasts with Ballintubber's progression, which came courtesy of squeezing past Tourlestrane of Sligo by 0-6 to 0-5, thanks largely to five Cillian O'Connor frees.

It will aid them to have edged a dogfight, for that's what they're sure to make this too if they've any sense.

Their experience of having played in the 2014 final will be of help to them this weekend, and allied to the fact that so many reigning All-Ireland champions of recent years have come unstuck in provincial finals, Ballintubber are nowhere near the 5/1 outsiders the bookmakers see them as.

Leinster Club SFC semi-final: Mullinalaghta (Longford) v Eire Og (Carlow) (tomorrow, Pearse Park, 1.30pm)

UNDER new Cavan manager Mickey Graham, three-in-a-row Longford champions Mullinalaghta will be aiming to make history by becoming the first club from the county ever to reach a Leinster Club SFC final.

They will come in as favourites too, given that they were seven-point winners over the same Éire Óg side at the first round stage last year.

Having overcome an experience Rhode side in the quarter-final, and with less than 150 members, it would be a huge day if they were to overcome Éire Óg.

The Carlow side's current crop may not have the stature of their five-time Leinster winning team of the ‘90s, but in returning to the top of the pile in their county they weren't long in reasserting themselves provincially with a seven-point win over Newtown Blues of Louth.

Their directness was the order of the day, with the two goals coming in the space of two minutes from Murtough Ware and Brendan Kavanagh. But this should be Mullinalaghta's afternoon.

Leinster Club SFC semi-final: Kilmacud Crokes (Dublin) v Portlaoise (Laois) (tomorrow, Parnell Park, 2pm)

PORTLAOISE have won 11 of the last 12 Laois titles, but despite hammering on the door, they just have not found a way to reclaim the Leinster title they've craved since their first test in 2009.

Their list of heartbreak is Mayo-esque at this stage, headed by the one-point defeat by Ballyboden in the final three years ago. They lost by a point to eventual champions Moorefield last year, and they've thrice been edged out by Dublin champions (St Brigid's in extra-time in 2011, Ballymun in 2012 and St Vincent's in 2013).

Only once have they failed to throw up a proper contest, and having gained revenge on Moorefield in the quarter-final, you'd expect their gander will be up for a meeting with Kilmacud Crokes.

The Dublin champions, however, have looked a class above in recent weeks. They were too good for St Jude's in the Dublin final, and then thumped Dunboyne by 16 points a fortnight ago.

Paul Mannion has proved almost unplayable, hitting 2-6 again the last day. There aren't many star names around him but they've looked as though they'll be very difficult to stop.

Munster Club SFC final: Miltown-Malbay (Clare) v Dr Crokes (Kerry) (tomorrow, Gaelic Grounds, 1.30pm, deferred coverage on TG4)

LIGHTNING was not going to be allowed to strike twice on a refreshed Dr Crokes. Having fallen flat against the previous year's Cork champions, the Kerry men bared their teeth against poor St Finbarr's.

Scoring 5-20 in itself was incredible, but the fact that their entire tally came from play was a measure of just what they'll do to an inferior body.

Miltown-Malbay are expected to be just that, no matter how they might try. It will be the Clare side's first time in a Munster final, getting there as a result of a deserved 2-11 to 0-9 win over The Nire two weeks ago.

With the experienced Kieran O'Leary still leading the line and the likes of Tony Brosnan, Gavin O'Shea (son of Pat) and Michéal Burns patrolling around them, they can be devastating in attack even if Colm Cooper isn't starting.

Containing them up there will be Miltown-Malbay's biggest concern. Their class and inter-county experience is largely positioned in their attack, but a shootout isn't the best idea. Prolonged resistance would nearly feel like a result.

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