Preview: This weekend's GAA action

by Tony Cuddihy , 09 March 2012

Another huge weekend of GAA action, with top class action in both football and hurling taking place over Saturday and Sunday.


LAOIS v CORK, Saturday, 7PM

Despite tough conditions last week in Ballybofey, Cork will have been disappointed with a low tally against Donegal and are looking to bounce back against Laois on Saturday.

Conor Counihan has resisted the temptation to make wholesale changes to his line-up despite the 1-7 to 0-6 defeat, with Alan O'Connor's return for Aidan Walsh the only change made.

Laois, meanwhile, will be staring down the barrel of a relegation battle if they don't make a vast improvement in this game.

While they did enjoy the significant boon of a victory over Donegal, last week's loss to Dublin at O'Moore Park showed how tough it will be for them to make strides in Leinster this year.

Laois's Padraig Clancy looks set to miss out the clash against Cork through injury.

The veteran star was forced off during the first half of the Dubs match with a hamstring injury and it is highly unlikely that he will recover in time to face the Rebels


Having put the defeat to Armagh down to experience by beating Down impressively last weekend, Kerry go into the clash with Donegal in high spirits.

There are two changes for Sunday's match.

Eoin Brosnan comes in at centre back in replace of Aidan O'Mahony while in attack the injured James O'Donoghue makes way for Darran O'Sullivan.

"We wanted to put in a performance, up our attitude and our work-rate, and I think we achieved that. It is good for morale," Jack O'Connor said after the match, who is expected to keep experimenting with the likes of Barry John Keane for this match.

Kieran Donaghy is also expected to start.

Donegal, meanwhile, are coming off the back of a big win over Cork last week, with Michael Murphy showing how important he is within seconds of the opening whistle.

"It is a matter now of getting all the boys that have come back and work on their fitness in the coming weeks and also pick up enough points to stay in Division One and work towards having the team right for Cavan on the 20 May," manager Jim McGuinness said.


Mayo will be hopeful of continuing their fine start to the league season when they take on struggling Down on Sunday.

James Horan's men are top of the table with a game in hand and, with the likes of Aidan O'Shea and Barry Moran in such fine form, there is huge optimism in the panel.

Kevin Keane is expected to have recovered from a calf muscle problem that forced him out of last Saturday’s game. Peadar Gardiner, who missed the win over Armagh due to a hamstring injury, is also likely to be back in contention for a place in the match-day squad next weekend.

However, Cillian O’Connor who has a “few small niggling injuries” and Kevin McLoughlin, who sustained a leg injury in training last week, will be assessed again after sitting out last weekend’s encounter.

For Down - rock bottom of the Division 1 table - Ambrose Rogers returns to the starting line-up following his second-half appearance last week.

Niall McParland comes into the defence, while Aidan Carr's also returns to bolster the Down attack.


Alan Brogan will make his first league start of the season against Armagh this Sunday. The footballer of the year will replace Dublin captain Bryan Cullen, suspended after a loss of discipline against Laois last Sunday.

While the impressive Eoghan O'Gara keeps his place, James McCarthy and Michael Dara MacAuley will also come back into the side.

Bernard Brogan is ready to make his first appearance of the year from the bench in Croke Park.

Armagh were beaten by Mayo last week but manager Paddy O'Rourke is boosted by the return of Ciaran McKeever.

John Kingham moves from full forward to join James Lavery in the middle of the pitch. In attack Colm Watters is drafted in.



Cork manager Jimmy Barry Murphy has made two changes to his side to face Dublin at Croke Park on Sunday.

Eoin Cadogan returns from injury in place of William Egan, while Darren Sweetnam makes way for Tom Kenny at midfield.

Veteran star Seán Og hAilpín has thanked Murphy for bringing him back into the Cork panel, after he was dropped by Denis Walsh last year.

"It was a big move in a lot of people's eyes because basically I was retired last year," O hAilpin admitted.

"I'm 35 years of age this year so from a sporting perspective people might see me as a depreciating asset, but I was delighted to get the call from Jimmy.

"We sat down and had an honest chat. There were no huge expectations, Jimmy said, 'Look the door is open for you, come in training with the panel and see how the body is shaping up'.

"The body is not so bad, probably not as good as it was five or ten years ago but I'm still able to chase the young cheetahs on the team today."

Dublin, meanwhile, will be without defender Peter Kelly for the clash. Kelly twisted his left knee in the closing stages of the defeat to Galway.

The news is a further blow to Dublin boss Anthony Daly, who is already without Liam Rushe, Conal Keaney, Stephen Hiney, Tomas Brady, Paul Schutte, Ross O'Carroll and David O'Callaghan.


Waterford face Kilkenny off the back of an opening round defeat to Cork, and knowing that the Cats are brimming with confidence after putting Tipperary to the sword.

Kilkenny captain Eoin Larkin, for one, is expecting a Deise backlash.

"Yeah, I think there will be a backlash because teams that didn't win their first game will be under pressure to win their second game," he told "They don't want to be falling down the table.

"Likewise, if we get beaten we'll be slipping down the table as well and so it has the makings of a great game.

"We were happy enough with the win [against Tipperary], you know. The bottom line is to get two points ahead of the Waterford game and we got that.

"It's probably easier getting back into the swing of things after winning an All-Ireland. Of course, September was brilliant but once January comes around and you are back from the holiday, you know it's back to the hard work again."

Waterford's Richie Foley has confirmed he will miss the whole league campaign, with the versatile Abbeyside clubman now targeting the Munster SHC clash with Clare as a return date.

The Kilkenny team, meanwhile, will be named on Friday night.


With Galway's Joe Canning still sidelined with a shoulder injury, the only change to the Tribesmen's team that beat Dublin sees Bernard Burke come in at the expense of Barry Daly.

Manager Anthony Cunningham will have no problems motivating his side to face the 2010 All-Ireland champions, who won the Waterford Crystal Cup last weekend to lay the ghosts of an opening day league defeat to Kilkenny to rest.

Galway got their league campaign off to a flyer with a 0-20 to 0-13 win over an admittedly understrength Dublin. Niall Burke was in inspirational form for the Tribesmen, accounting for half of their overall total.

Tipperary have made wholesale changes for Sunday's game.

John O'Keeffe, James Woodlock, Shane McGrath, John O'Neill and Shane Bourke all come into the team in place of Shane Maher, David Young, Gearoid Ryan, Adrian Ryan and John O'Brien.

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