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Westmeath, Cavan shapes up as close affair

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

12:30 p.m., Junior A

St. Barnabas vs. Kerry

This could be an exciting clash as both teams are still very much in contention. St. Barnabas, last year’s Junior B champs have acquitted themselves well in this division. They have a good blend of Irish and Irish-American players. However, the absence of their goal-scoring machine, Darren Meaney and their crafty Sean Carpin will lessen the potency of their attack. Expect the Garveys, O’Halloran, Nolan, Daly and company to test the Kingdom.

According to a Kerry sports release from John Riordan, his troops are decimated with injuries. However, his players have a tendency in the past to recover rapidly and Sunday will be no different. Nonetheless, his long-serving keeper, John Fogarty, is definitely out as is his busy corner forward Andy O’Connor. However, adequate replacements will be found to complement the Rineys, Kieran Cull, Emmet Kelly, John Kissane and company. Prediction: Kerry by a point.

2 p.m. Senior Hurling

Limerick vs. Kilkenny

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Limerick had found themselves resident in the lower regions of the standings in the early part of the season. However, judging from their performance recently against Westmeath, they certainly seem to have no inclination to be a cellar dweller. Now with outside help ruled out expect Finbarr Flood, Dave Simms, Tadgh O’Callaghan and newcomers Pat Moroney And Colm Moriarity to make life difficult for the Cats.

Killkenny don’t expect to play second fiddle to anybody this season as they have produced some scintillating hurling. At the back they have a rock-solid keeper in Mike Collins, a cadre of tenacious defenders and in Damian Mason a forward with speed and class to burn. The supporting cast of Norton, McKay and company is none to shabby either. Prediction: A draw.

3:30 p.m. Senior Football

Westmeath vs. Cavan

Westmeath after a very promising start to the season stumbled for a while before finding their feet again. They sent a strong Tyrone team packing recently and they look like the real deal. They have a solid base of players, which becomes all the more critical while the Croke Park embargo lasts. Westmeath may be the most vulnerable in the middle of the park and exclusive reliance on P.J. Ward upfront could be problematic, though many teams wouldn’t mind having their bench as starters.

Cavan, under Jimmy Gilsenan, has assembled a no-frills outfit with a great work ethic. Judicious use of the 60-day sanctioned players have made them a force to be reckoned with. They will give nothing easy at the back as O’Hagen, Brady and Sheridan don’t stand on ceremony, while up front Sloan, Fagan, and Reilly will keep their opponents busy. Of course they always have Joe Cassidy to throw into the mix. Prediction: Westmeath to shade it.

5 p.m. Senior Football

Tyrone vs. Stamford

Both of these teams find themselves at the wrong end of the table and struggling. Tyrone began the season well but then went into a freefall. They lined out a very strong team against Westmeath but they didn’t get the result. Expect some shock treatment from Danny Barr, John Moore and the Duke to get this Tyrone squad fired up. However their efforts will be greatly hampered by the Lords of Croke Park.

Stamford are also having a nightmarish season with just one win over winless Rangers. Like Tyrone they were going great guns against Donegal and had them on the ropes. Then they faltered badly. Stamford need help up front as Fergal O’Neill is greatly overworked. Hennessy and Purcell can provide the inspiration if the rest of the crew can row in behind them. A lot of pride is at stake here, so expect a full-blooded encounter. Prediction: whoever wants it the most.

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