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What a weekend we have in store in the Electric Ireland All-Ireland Minor Football Championships.
Across Saturday and Sunday, we have an absolute feast of knockout championship action to look forward to as the Electric Ireland Minor Football Championships whittles down to just four.
Come Sunday evening we will also know what teams are marching on into this year’s Electric Ireland All-Ireland Minor Hurling final.
There’s a host of battles going down across the two days and you can watch each one of them live.
Here is our preview ahead of a bumper weekend of GAA action.
Electric Ireland All-Ireland Hurling Semi-Finals
Limerick v Kilkenny (Saturday 4 pm)
Kilkenny and Limerick go head-to-head in what should be an entertaining and intense battle in Croke Park on Saturday for a place in the Electric Ireland All-Ireland final.
Limerick have enjoyed a lengthy break since their six-point victory over Clare in the Munster final last month. The livewire Cathal O’Neill bagged nine points that day in LIT Gaelic Grounds, bringing his tally for the championship so far to 1-43.
However, Limerick have endured a number of setbacks in their preparations for the semi-final with the news that Diarmuid Hegarty has suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury while captain Michael Keane has also been ruled out of the clash. Manager Diarmuid Mullins says the game has come too soon for the Adare man.
“Diarmuid’s a really good player and a good leader around the group. It’s very disappointing, foremost for him but it obviously reduces our options in some ways. It gives other people opportunities as well.
“For Michael, it’s disappointing, because as captain he has led the team really well. Saturday is probably a little too soon for him and we have to be careful in terms of, he’s a young player with that type of injury.”
Meanwhile, Kilkenny will be hoping to pick themselves up following their quarter-final round-robin loss to Galway two weeks ago. Despite the defeat, the Cats will be pleased with their performance after they produced a stellar comeback to level the game from a 12-point deficit.
Billy Drennan and Pierce Blanchfield have been in immense form for Kilkenny so far and with a clean bill of health report, the Limerick defence will have their hands full on Saturday evening.
Wexford v Galway (Sunday 1.30 pm)
Another thrilling Electric Ireland minor semi-final is expected on Sunday when Leinster champions Wexford meet reigning All-Ireland champions Galway in Croke Park.
Wexford produced a stunning performance in the Leinster final against Kilkenny last month to win their first provincial minor title since 1985.
Their sharpshooter AJ Redmond was in phenomenal form during the game, registering 1-11 with nine points from frees. Outside of the final win, the Model County have enjoyed an industrious campaign so far with only one loss from six games. The side will be hoping that the large Wexford following that cheered them on in Croke Park four weeks ago will return in their droves for the 1.30 pm throw-in on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Galway have been very impressive in their two outings this summer. The Tribesmen survived that late scare by Kilkenny to triumph in their opening game of the quarter-final round-robin series.
Following that, Galway played out a cracking contest with Clare in O’Moore Park last weekend. Similarly to their opener, the team’s character was severely tested when Clare desperately searched for the winning score late on but Galway held out for a two-point win. Seán McDonagh was voted the Electric Ireland Player of the Week on both occasions registering 1-7 against Clare and 1-10 against Kilkenny but they have match winners all over the field in Alex Connaire and Gavin Lee.
Electric Ireland All-Ireland Football Quarter-Finals
Mayo v Dublin (Saturday 3 pm)
The Dubs come into this game off the back of a heartbreaking extra-time defeat in the Leinster final two weeks ago, ultimately falling to a strong Kildare side by 2-21 to 1-19.
Jim Lehane’s men, however, will take encouragement from their free-scoring run to the provincial final which saw them put up totals of 18+ points in their six championship games. The place-kicking ability of Fionn Murray, who has grabbed 16 points in his last two appearances, will also be a huge bonus for the Boys in Blue come Saturday’s quarter-final.
Like Dublin, Mayo were involved in an incredibly close provincial final, however, they ran out one-point winners over their old rivals Galway in Tuam. Mayo rode their luck at times, needing a late penalty and a missed Galway point to get them over the line, but like Dublin, they are very strong going forward, a trait they showed in their semi-final demolition of Sligo.
In the last four, Paul Walsh bagged himself an astonishing four goals and the Castlebar Mitchels man will no doubt be one to keep an eye on in Pearse Park.
Expect a high-scoring close game between these two, given the two counties’ attacking potency.
Kildare v Galway (Saturday 7 pm)
Kildare came out on the winning side of the Leinster final two weeks ago against Dublin and will be full of confidence heading into the clash with the Tribesmen.
Against Dublin, they squandered some excellent chances in the first half, but their clinical nature in extra-time, which saw them score 2-7, will be a huge boost.
Eoin Bagnall and Adam Browne both grabbed an incredible 1-7 each and will no doubt cause the Galway defence some issues, as will their dogged defence which kept a free-scoring Dublin at bay for 15 vital minutes in the Leinster decider. Galway will have to pick themselves up following a late one-point defeat to Mayo in their provincial final.
James McLaughlin’s late missed free proved costly, but the Moycullen man has been in sparkling form throughout the Connacht Championship for Galway and his work in the midfield area will be key at Pearse Park.
Kildare’s defence could see them scrape this one, but Galway will be keen to bounce back following their provincial defeat.
Kerry v Tyrone (Sunday 2 pm)
The Kingdom’s search for an unprecedented sixth Electric Ireland All-Ireland Minor Championship in a row continues this weekend when they come up against a teak-tough Tyrone outfit on Sunday.
Tyrone, on the other hand, will be looking to bounce back from a narrow two-point defeat to Monaghan in their recent Ulster final meeting.
Kerry’s forward line, to no surprise, is littered with talent. In Jack O’Connor, they have a centre-forward who can link defence with attack and is deadly accurate from placed kicks. While Dylan Geaney of the famed Geaney family has proven to be deadly in front of goals having bagged 1-2 in their Munster final win over Cork. Colin Crowley and Gearóid Hassett also provide Kerry with serious firepower upfront.
Tyrone have some classy forwards of their own, however, with Luke Donnelly, Mark Devlin, Niall Devlin (captain) and Michael McGleenan all showing impressive form in their campaign to date.
A true heavyweight clash is set to take place. Kerry may be the champions but we all know how Tyrone sides love to take on the Kingdom.
Monaghan v Cork (Sunday 6 pm)
Ther Farney men were crowned Electric Ireland Ulster Minor Football champions for the second successive year following a two-point win over Tyrone in the Athletic Grounds.
On the day there was nothing to choose between the sides with Michael Hamill’s goal midway through the second half setting Monaghan up to take home the spoils. If Cork are to stop Monaghan from progressing to a second All-Ireland semi-final in a row then they will need to watch out for corner-forward, Hamill, and his two partners upfront. Darragh Dempsey top-scored in their Ulster final win with 0-5 while full-forward, Liam McDonald, bagged a hat-trick in their Ulster semi-final victory over Donegal.
Cork are coming into this game off the back of a loss against rivals Kerry in the Munster final, however, there was only a goal between the sides on that day in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
The young Rebels have had over a month to get that game out of their system and they will look to bounce back strongly this weekend against the Farney County. Centre-forward and captain, Conor Corbett is their go-to man and the Clyda Rovers player will be looking to make a big impact on this game. Cork also possess a potent full-forward line with Nemo Rangers man Patrick Campbell at full-forward flanked by Ryan O’Donovan and Jack Cahalane.
The battle at midfield, however, between Karl Gallagher and Kelan Scannell should be worth the entrance fee alone.
Brought to you by Electric Ireland
Minor players are embarking on their adult lives. They have hopes, dreams, pressures, distractions and ambitions, but for this one moment in time, the Electric Ireland Minor Championships is the major thing in their lives.
Follow the conversation at #GAAThisIsMajor or be a part of the action; watch a selection of the GAA Minor Hurling & Football matches live or vote for your Minor Player of the week, with all nominated players in with a chance of making the Electric Ireland Minor Team of the Year 2019.
Find all information on https://www.electricireland.ie/gaa-minor-championships.