By Kevin Regan
It’s come down to the penultimate stage of the Intermediate and Senior Football Championships in Carlow with the semi finals taking place Saturday and Sunday.
The First of two Double headers at Netwatch Cullen Park is on Saturday with Naomh Eoin facing Clonmore in the Intermediate Football Semi Final at 6, which acts as the curtain raiser to Palatine’s clash with Mount Leinster Rangers in the Senior Semi Final at 7.30.
You can hear both those games live on KCLR with thanks to Dooley Motors Carlow your recently appointed all new Kia Dealer.
Naomh Eoin V Clonmore
IFC Semi Final Saturday at 6pm Netwatch Cullen Park
Naomh Eoin go into this game as favourites having progressed straight through from the group stages.
Waiting for them is a Clonmore side who comfortably saw off a decent Grange side in last weeks quarter final.
I felt at the start of the year that Clonmore might struggle but like most of my predictions so far this year I was wrong!
Clonmore are here on merit. They gave St Andrews their closest test in the group stages with the Town side prevailing by two points in the end.
Naomh Eoin did suffer a loss to Ballinabranna in their side of the group which really went down to the wire, but were impressive in dispatching Grange in their final group game.
The Myshall side have some fine footballers in their ranks and will look to Philip Smithers, Donal Smithers and John Michael Nolan to lead them on the day.
Clonmore also have quality in their side with the likes of Gavin Byrne, Con Murphy and Niall Humphries.
For sheer doggedness alone I think that Naomh Eoin will find a way to prevail in the end.
Mount Leinster Rangers V Palatine
SFC Semi Final Saturday at 7.30pm Netwatch Cullen Park
Mount Leinster Rangers provided us with the shock of the season last week when they defeated Eire Og and they were full value for it too.
The two man inside line of Eddie Byrne and Diarmuid Byrne worked a treat, but you would expect Mick Lillis to have some sort of a plan in place to stifle that tactic this time round.
Palatine weren’t expected to retain their crown this year but right now they are still the team to beat.
The big question here is whether or not MLR can produce another performance like last Sunday and oust the reigning champions.
Palatine answered all the questions asked of them in their group games which saw them defeat MLR by Five points.
I’m not sure whether or not there will be Five points in it this time but I do expect Palatine to prevail by a couple of points.
Kilbride V St Andrews
IFC Semi Final Sunday at 6pm Netwatch Cullen Park
This game Is the one that I am most looking forward to this weekend.
St Andrew’s have been the form team in the competition this year so far and are playing an attractive brand of football, moving the ball from defence to attack at pace.
Kilbride are last years beaten finalists but stuttered through the group stages, losing their first game to Naomh Eoin and drawing with Grange before seeing off Ballinabranna in a crunch encounter.
However they produced an impressive attacking display against the Fighting Cocks the last day putting up a score of 2-20 with Pauric Nolan particularly prominent.
St Andrews recently played a challenge game against Crettyard which ended level and that same Crettyard side are now in a Laois Senior Semi Final.
The one thing that both Kilbride and St Andrews have in common is that they have serious scoring forwards.
For this reason I reckon whoever can tighten up that bit more in defence will win the game.
Kilbride have the strength to overpower St Andrews, however the Town side have the speed to do likewise.
It’s a tough one to call and I think this one might go to a replay.
Rathvilly V Old Leighlin
Carlow SFC Semi Final Sunday at 7.30pm Netwatch Cullen Park
These old rivals seem to have met each other every year since the establishment of the GAA!
Old Leighlin have a big void to fill at centre back with veteran John Hayden out with a Hamstring injury.
The village have a lot of old dogs for the hard road but running on hard road for an extended period of time has a telling affect on the body, especially after a decade of being up at the top.
I think Rathvilly are a very good side and I expect them to win this one but Old Leighlin wont go down without a fight.
It will be interesting to see where Rathvilly will incorporate Brendan Murphy into the team as he has played in a host of different positions over the years.
In the group meeting between the sides Rathvilly prevailed by four points and I expect them to come through this test again on Sunday.
You can also hear both of Sunday’s Games on our Carlow Frequency from 6pm with thanks to Dooley Motors Carlow your recently appointed all new Kia dealer.