By Peter Nolan
Junior Football A
Down vs. Donegal
These two sides have one opponent in common, but not much can be gleaned from that as Kerry defeated both. Down are winless overall, despite fielding a fairly talented side. Martin McGivern is a solid presence in the center of the defense, Ed Flynn is a quick wingback, and Mark Dobbins is a dangerman upfront.
Donegal stand level at 1-1 and have some familiar names in Niall McClafferty, Gerry Kelly (if he’s back from injury), Garreth Kelly and Anton Diver. This should be close, but Donegal has a little bit more to play for and may shade it.
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Clare vs. Tipperary
Tipperary and Clare meet in this Senior Hurling match up as two teams heading in the opposite direction. Tipperary sit on top of the division and 2002 has seen another poor start for the Banner County. Seamus Pender is a New York county man and he will lead a determined Clare team that just doesn’t have the horses.
Senior Football A
Cavan vs. Stamford
These two teams are right in the middle of a densely packed Senior A division, each at 1-1. Each team took two points off Rangers, with Stamford embarrassing their opponent 3-12 to 0-3.
Oddly enough, the two sides also lost to the same opponent, Leitrim. Cavan put up the better showing, falling by 0-3 in a well-played match. Cavan’s defense is led by Eugene O’Hagan, Barney Brady, and Francie Sheriden. Gary McDermott and Paul Galligan are solid in the middle and John Fagan has notched three goals, so he will bear watching.
Stamford are a hardworking outfit, solid at the back with Phil Wickham, Kevin Newell and Richie Purcell. Keith Hennessey is a strong midfielder and Pauric Cr’ven has been their top forward. A close game is likely, but Cavan should just take it.
Senior Football B
Offaly vs. Monaghan
Two teams many expected to battle it out for the “B” title meet in Sunday’s closer in a game that should tell us a lot about both. Monaghan are 2-0 but had to work a lot harder versus Mayo than in their impressive opener versus a depleted Rockland team. Offaly, likewise, opened in fine style, hammering Cork, but the Faithful faltered against Roscommon, and were fortunate to escape with a draw.
As with any team that plays Monaghan, Offaly will have to account for Michael Slowey. If he lines out at full forward, it could be a great battle with Sean Nolan; if he’s in the corner, Offaly has a good marker in Mark Dolan.
Monaghan’s defense is well marshaled by Martin Slowey and Bernard Traynor. They have an energetic midfield in Hughie O’Sullivan and Ruari O’Neill, and Declan McEntee and Mark Dobbin are good running mates for Mickey Slowey up front.
Nolan, Dolan and Enda Condren lead a solid Offaly back six, James Mitchell is a strong presence in the middle of the park, but Offaly forwards were out of synch against Roscommon and that four-goal outburst versus Cork was way back on opening day. If Offaly can’t find a shooting touch, Monaghan will take the spoils.