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30th Nov 2014

Weekend GAA preview: Who will come out on top in Munster and Ulster finals?

Kieran Donaghy goes in search of Munster club glory this weekend

Kevin McGillicuddy

Slaughtneil face Omagh St Enda’s while Austin Stacks meet The Nire in a big finals weekend.

The AIB Club Senior Football Championships in Munster and Ulster reach their conclusion this weekend with two cracking games down for decision on Sunday.

It’s Tyrone v Derry in the Ulster decider at the Athletics Grounds in Armagh while Kerry champions Austin Stacks meet The Nire of Waterford in the Munster clash at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

We preview the two games below:

AIB Munster Senior Football Club Championship Final
Austin Stacks v The Nire
Páirc Uí Chaoimh, 2pm

The Nire team celebrate the final whistle 16/11/2014

It’s Kerry versus Waterford in a Munster final. Surely there can be only be one winner.

And reflecting the general consensus, Austin Stacks are massive favourites for the game on Sunday in the old dust-bowl down by the Lee.

However, that simple analysis won’t do either side any favours and even though The Nire have never won Munster, they have pushed teams close over the years – just ask Dr Crokes who only beat the Waterford side by three points in 2006.

Both teams come into the final after extra-time in their respective semi finals – The Nire beating Cratloe while ‘Stacks’ beat Ballincollig.

The Nire win was probably more impressive than their Tralee counterparts simply because their fitness outlasted that of a Cratloe side which is probably one of the most finely tuned in the country due to their dual commitments.

Looking at the personnel on board for both sides, the pre-game focus will have to be on one man, Kieran Donaghy.

Anytime he’s in action the opposition will have to come up with a plan to tackle the All Star who is lethal in the air and on the ground

At club level he is devastating against less experienced or less physically imposing defenders as evidenced by his early goal for ‘Stacks in their Kerry county club final replay win over Mid Kerry:

Donaghy is the key to both sides success on Sunday. If ‘Stacks’ get enough ball to him he’ll help the club to a first Munster crown since 1976.

If The Nire handle him they can expose the Stack’s defense with players such as Jamie Barron, Shane Ryan and Conor Gleeson all able to mix it with the best.

Stacks get the hesitant vote but don’t be surprised if The Nire claim a famous win for Waterford GAA

AIB Ulster Senior Football Club Championship Final
Slaughtneil v Omagh St Enda’s
Athletics Grounds, Armagh

Kevin Rafferty with Conan Grugan and Joseph McMahon 16/11/2014

Could you get a more heated rivalry in Ulster than Derry and Tyrone?

Slaugthtneil come in to a very first Ulster club final off the back of an impressive 1-9 to 0-7 win over Clontibret in their semi final.

The Derry champions are driven by the Bradley brothers Ronan and Chrissy up top with an solid backbone of Patsy Bradley at midfield.

Their side is based very much on defence and hard work as they stopped Conor McManus and his Clontibret teammates from ever truly getting anything out of their rearguard with their three first half points all coming from placed balls.

The game’s crucial score after 32 minutes came with Christopher Bradley in acres of space slotting home to open up a lead that they never looked like letting slip.

Their opponents Omagh St Enda’s come into the game after a magical year that saw them claim a first county title in 26 years and then reach a provincial final thanks to a 1-8 to 0-8 win over St Eunan’s earlier this month.

The Letterkenny side threw everything they had at the Tyrone outfit but still came up short and usually in club championship it’s the team that has the harder semi that ultimately prevails for the trophy.

The hard-as-nails McMahon brothers Justin and Joe as well as forward Conor are the backbone of the Omagh side and they will need to show their experience and class if they are to be successful on Sunday.

Ronan O’Neill has proved himself a hero on several occasions for Omagh this season and they may need his magic boots to sparkle once again if they are to lift the Seamus McFerran Cup for the very first time.

We give our vote to Slaughtneil just by virtue of their stronger defence and the ability to grind out games.

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