By Mike Fitzpatrick
Junior Football Final
Astoria vs. Sligo
Astoria Gaels face a tough assignment here versus a Sligo side anxious to register an important victory. The Queens side reached their first ever final thanks to a fine four-point victory over Tyrone a couple of weeks back. Sligo made it to the last two due to their triumphant performance when faced with the threat of Stamford last week.
Sligo will certainly look to free taker extraordinary, Barney Healy, to give them the edge in this tie. It was Healy’s accuracy in front of goal and in dead-ball situations that really gave victory to Sligo last week. With Mike Gilligan in Sligo’s defense, Astoria forwards such as Mike Keane and Nestor Allen will have to be at their most dangerous.
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A tough one to predict, but I’ll go for Astoria to shock New York GAA circles by grabbing a historic win.
Limerick vs. Westmeath
Westmeath’s last outing at Gaelic Park resulted in the kind of display they would rather forget. A strong first-half performance meant little as rivals Tipperary stepped up the pace in the second half and ran riot, ending in a complete whitewashing for the lads from Westmeath. They came back from this tie to gain a fine win versus Offaly, with David Cuddy playing a pivotal role.
Limerick will be strong favorites for this tie, and indeed, the championship, despite the presence of certain sides such as Limerick and Waterford. Dave Sims has been having a fabulous year for Limerick, and the Westmeath lads must make sure he is well marked throughout the tie, otherwise he’ll destroy them. Veteran forward Brian Daly is also up there among great New York forwards, and Westmeath will hope that he’s at his best for this difficult game.
I figure Limerick, though having reached the playoffs already, will go all out for victory in this one, and Sims’ s goals-scoring antics will have a huge say in the final result.
Div. II Semifinal
Offaly vs. Sligo
Sligo play something of a doubleheader at the Park this Sunday, with their juniors partaking in the Junior B final earlier in the day. Indeed, the last time this happened was only two weeks ago, when both sides claimed victory. Here Sligo will go all out to emulate their junior team and move toward the final game.
Possessing such forward talents as New York All Star Enda Henry, and the likes of Noel Fitzgerald in their team, Bosco Walsh’s Sligo side will no doubt be favorites for this game. Both teams will perhaps be relieved to have avoided both Longford and Kerry, who contested the other semifinal, so it’s third versus fourth. Longford and Kerry, in fact, had defeated both sides on display here during the season. The honors this time I feel will go to Sligo. Offaly have had some
Senior Football Div. 1
Monaghan vs. Leitrim
Yet another mouthwatering tie from the annals of Div. I Senior Football. Monaghan have had a disappointing season so far, and their hopes of reaching the playoffs disintegrated a number of weeks ago. Seamus Dooley’s team have, however, made their way into the hearts of all at Gaelic Park with their gutsy performances.
Despite energetic performances versus sides such as the likes of kingpins Donegal and championship hopefuls Stamford, Monaghan have found themselves at the wrong end of one- and two-point defeats this season. Missing Kieran Tavey for the last few games, the Northern side will hope to have him back for this deciding game.
Leitrim, may, as in past years, bring in a number of big names from across the shore for this one. Their championship year got off to a dismal start when they were well beaten by Cavan, but they soon got back into winning ways with a number of important victories since then. They have the players to bring them glory, and if forwards such as Alan McFadden are allowed the run of the ball, they will surely make the playoffs. It’s a vital game for Frank Brady’s men, and they simply must win to stay on course for further success this season.
The self styled "Team of the 90s" are still in, but have three worthy rivals for playoff hopes in Westmeath, Stamford and Tyrone. Leitrim to grab a tough victory.