Hurling and camogie

Galway and Kilkenny tipped to emerge from All-Ireland semi-finals

Niamh Kilkenny will be a key player for Galway as they seek to see off Tipperary in the All-Ireland senior semi-final at Croke Park tomorrow while the Cats face Cork in the other last four tie
BY SEAMAS McALEENAN

All-Ireland Senior Championship semi-finals: Galway v Tipperary (tomorrrow, Croke Park, 2pm); Cork v Kilkenny (tomorrow, Croke Park, 4pm)

FOR four consecutive years now, the same four teams have contested the senior All-Ireland semi-finals and only one of them – Tipperary – have not reached a final.

That immediately installs Galway as favourites to make it to their third successive final. Drawn in the same group as Kilkenny, the team that edged them in both last December's All-Ireland final and the Division One decider in June, Galway produced the goods at the end of July to beat the Cats in the last group game.

That result meant Galway have not played a game in the interim and the four-week gap might well be their biggest obstacle.

Tipperary had a tough enough quarter-final against Waterford, eventually winning by 0-17 to 0-11. However, they didn't really trouble the Déise goalie and they will definitely need goals against Galway.

The 2019 champions were just a score away from retaining the All-Ireland in December. A solid team unit with the McGrath sisters and Niamh Kilkenny up front, Galway should make the final.

28-time champions Cork have failed to reach the last two finals and, under Paudie Murray's watch, that is an unusual statistic. They contested the previous five deciders and won four titles.

Most of that team is still around with Aisling Thompson, Katrina Mackey and Chloe Sigerson the key players, but their main problem in preparation has been the four week gap since their last competitive outing, a fairly handy win over Waterford.

Last year and this, Kilkenny seem to have discovered how to produce the big performance on the big day. They came from behind to win the league and championship double at Galway's expense with Grace Walsh, Denise Gaule and Collette Dormer producing the leadership which should edge them home tomorrow.

Nancy Murray Cup final: Mayo v Tyrone (tomorrow, Carrick-on-Shannon, 5pm)

A FORTNIGHT ago these teams met down in Toreen and Mayo pulled away to win by 3-9 to 1-6.

Tyrone, however, will hope to do a lot better in this final as they were short a couple of players for the long trip down to the west.

They showed much more composure and team-work last weekend when they took control of the semi-final against Wicklow with dual players Grainne Rafferty and Reagan Fay playing leading roles even though they had been out with the county footballers in a relegation battle against Cavan earlier in the day.

Fay is still a minor, but scored 1-5 while Rafferty turned in a good performance at midfield.

The Red Hands appeared in last year's final but were beaten by a strong Cavan side. This year their performances in both league and championship have been a mixed bag but there is still huge potential in the side.

From that group game, Mayo will be favourites to collect a first national title, but I still fancy Tyrone to take the play to them and, if they are still in the game coming into the last ten minutes, they have the scoring power in Róisín McErlean and Reagan Fay to take them over the line.

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