From football fantasy to hurling final, Antrim dual club the story of scintillating weekend 1 week ago

From football fantasy to hurling final, Antrim dual club the story of scintillating weekend

The heavens have opened.

The pitches are soggy and the goalmouths are bogs. Training is a slog.

But you must count your lucky stars. Teams still standing are thin on the ground at this stage and believe it or not, every fallen group would love to be on their feet still.

It's been one of the wettest weeks of the year but hearts are warmed and minds are fuelled by the thoughts of Sunday's showdown. Every game is knockout at this stage, every knockout is huge.

You wouldn't think it, but these short days and dreary evenings are the pinnacle for club players. It's grim, but there's something magical about it.

Community pride. Untold stories. No matter where you are, you know the struggles, the highs and the lows. A fairytale will inspire you for next year.

Here are the potential fairytales around this weekend's corner.

Saturday

Tipperary SFC final

Clonmel Commercials v JK Brackens, Semple Stadium, 2.30.

The Commercials, with Quinlivan, Kennedy, Longergan, Fahey et al. are favourites to make it four titles in nine years. JK Brackens have claimed many a scalp on their way here though and will have plenty of confidence.

The Templemore club won the Seamus Ó Riain Senior B hurling competition last week and would be primarily seen as a hurling club, but they're well able for the big ball too.

Many in Tipperary aren't happy that the game was moved out of the traditional Sunday final slot due to the county's hurling representatives Borris-Ileigh having a game in the Munster championship then.

Ulster club IHC final

Eoghan Ruadh (Tyrone) v Naomh Eanna (Antrim), Owenbeg, 4.00.

Naomh Eanna made it to the All-Ireland club intermediate football final last year where they lost out to Kerry kingpins Kilcummin. This time around, they're giving the hurling a good welt. An admirable dual club indeed.

Eoghan Ruadh retained their Tyrone title and they'll fancy their chances.

Ulster club JHC final

Eoghan Rua (Derry) v Newry Shamrocks (Down), The Dub, 2.00

Eoghan Rua made it to the All-Ireland final in this grade a couple of years ago, when they ran Glenmore of Kilkenny close. Fancied here too.

Sunday 

Connacht SFC semi-finals

Tír Chonaill Gaels (London) v Padraig Pearses (Roscommon), McGovern Park, Ruislip, 2.00

The London side, and indeed the state of football in general in London is rapidly improving, but Pearses with Hubert Darcy and Conor Payne on form should have too much.

Corofin (Galway) v Ballintubber (Mayo), Tuam Stadium, 2.00 - TG4 deferred

Promises plenty. Tubber are tough to break down but Corofin always find a way.

Leinster SFC quarter-finals

Newtown Blues (Louth) v Ballyboden St Endas (Dublin), Gaelic Grounds, Drogheda, 1.30

Dublin clubs have got caught on the hop in this competition in recent times, so Boden are well warned.

St Patricks (Wicklow) v Portlaoise (Laois), Aughrim, 1.30

There will be nothing between these teams, though Portlaoise are generally good to raise their game in Leinster.

Garrycastle (Westmeath) v Ratoath (Meath), TEG Cusack Park, 1.30

Ratoath are in uncharted territory but they have plenty of class about them in Eamonn Wallace and Bryan McMahon. Garrycastle have lots of experience.

Eire Og (Carlow) v Sarsfields (Kildare), Netwatch Cullen Park, 2.00

The Kildare champs are young and fast and that might tip the balance in their favour.

Munster club SFC quarter-finals

Miltown-Malbay (Clare) v Rathgormack (Waterford), Miltown-Malbay, 1.30

The Clare champs have more experience at this grade but Rathgormack look good.

Nemo Rangers (Cork) v Newcastlewest (Limerick), Mallow, 1.30

Nemo are fancied.

Kerry SFC final

East Kerry v Dr Crokes, Austin Stack Park, 3.00

The showdown of the weekend. TG4 would have wanted this game, though the Kerry county board wouldn't allow it be televised as they seek a 10'000 plus attendance. Everyone in the county will want to see this.

Dr Crokes have been doggedly finding their way through and one man, in the explosive Tony Brosnan has been keeping them alive. He's running up frightening tallies again this year - his consistency is phenomenal.

It could turn into a shootout between himself and the two Cliffords. There have been calls for Paudie Clifford and Brosnan to receive Kerry call-ups. Well Peter Keane will have his eyes glued on this and another big performance from either will win the championship and will leave them impossible to ignore.

Munster club SHC semi-finals

Borris-Ileigh (Tipperary) v Glen Rovers (Cork), Semple Stadium, 1.30

Borris will be buoyed by their big win last weekend while the Glen might be down having lost the Cork final.

Ballygunner (Waterford) v Patrickswell (Limerick), Walsh Park, 1.45 - TG4 live

The big one. Live on TG4. Ballygunner are some club team, but Patrickswell have serious talent in Gillane, Lynch and Byrnes.

Ulster club SHC final

Dunloy (Antrim) v Slaughtneil (Derry), Pairc Esler, 3.00

Promises to be a monumental occasion. Slaughtneil are the most consistent team in the province for a number of years but Dunloy are young and very hungry.

Galway SHC final

Liam Mellows v St Thomas, Pearse Stadium, 2.30.

Mellows are looking to regain their title. Thomas' are back again, having made it to the All-Ireland final last year. Two of the most consistent teams in Galway over the last number of years. It should be a good one.

Connacht club JHC final

Micheal Breathnach (Galway) v Naomh Eoin (Sligo), Connacht GAA Centre, 2.00

The Galway Gaeltacht men are fancied.