Saturday, July 25

5 p.m.: IF Astoria Gaels vs. St. Barnabas

This intermediate football outing pits two teams that had some great battles in 2004, ’05 and ’06, before the Saints went on too the senior ranks.

Astoria has been on the field since May this year while Barnabas had a late start to proceedings. Astoria have Shaun Munnelly, Alan Foley, and Sam Yore as the backbone, with Leitrim keeper Pa Ryan playing out the field nowadays. He is joined up front by Shane Sweeney, the hurling scoring machine.

St. Barnabas have a core unit in Thomas McGovern, Ronan Garvey, Andrew Donahue, Declan Garvey and Ciaran Moyles that have given them great service this past five years. Add some summer players and a threatening squad develops.

A draw on the cards.

6:30 p.m.: SF Cavan vs. Sligo

Cavan are still looking for their first win this year while Sligo is 1-3. This means both are looking for points to try and grab the fifth or sixth slot in the playoff picture.

Sligo has been behind early in games, but they do have some very good footballers. Brian Quinlan is having a good year in goal. Sean Pender is a solid full back, with the midfield pairing of Tony Woods and Niall Higgins a confident pairing.

Cavan gave Leitrim a fright in their last outing, and the addition of Kieran O’Leary from Dr. Crokes gives them a second scoring threat in the full forward line beside Johnny Ryan. Garth Kelly continues to have a good year, with the play at the back of Brian Naughton, Brendan Reilly and Alan Carolan very positive.

Second close contest of the evening.

7:45 p.m.: SF Leitrim vs. Four Provinces

Another week at the office for Leitrim. They are the crowd drawer and pleaser each Saturday night.

Scott Conroy from Portlaoise continues his torrid pace from full forward or half forward. His play alongside Dan Doona is reason alone to come to the park. With the solid midfield pairing of Pat Madden and Adrian O’Connor looking for them constantly it bodes well for chances up front.

One player who is MR. Consistency is Eoin Michael O’Neill. The Renard clubman is at home in any of the back six slots but has been used primarily at number seven. A strong player going forward, he is a relentless defender who has won all his one on one battles.

Four Provinces were well equipped last Sunday when they defeated Donegal easily. Newcomers Caolan Daly, Chris Calhoun, Shane Mulgrew and Thomas Hughes all had leading roles.

The battle between Hughes and Madden will be interesting. Michael Grimes, David Doyle, Michael Higgins and Liam O’Donnell are hold-overs from their championship win two years ago.

The Bank is at 135 tickets after we hit with Leitrim and Tyrone last Sunday. Yes, we were feeling lucky. A 20 ticket wager on Leitrim to keep winning, but we are also going with a five ticket triple exacta, Leitrim, Tipperary and Down, total 15 ticket bet.

The odds are 5/1 based on recent results, 15 to lose, 75 to gain on the long shot. If this comes in we are looking for a corporate box at Croker in September.

Sunday, July 26

2:30 p.m.: SH Tipperary vs. Galway

A slot on the line in the final or semifinal. The senior hurling is wide open as all three teams have a chance at a semi final slot on August 9, or a final slot waiting for the other two to fight it out.

Basically Offaly still control their own destiny after last week. If they beat Galway on the 2nd then Tipp and Galway play in the semi. This contest will still have big repercussions, what with Tipp winning last Sunday and the outing between these sides the first time ending in a draw. 

Ger Corcoran from Kilruane McDonagh’s in Tipperary is a brilliant goalkeeper for Galway. No fear and dramatic to boot. Thomas Gillian from the Cullion HC in Westmeath is a very capable free taker, while Finian Coone was excellent up front last time out.

Tipp will counter with David Crimmins, who will do double duty, plays with Cork right after. Paudie Ryan who is their free taker-in-chief, Liam Costello, who is a flying corner forward. Their own goalie is no slouch, Thomas O’Meara deals in the exciting each week.

Tipp to do just enough this week and follow on their defeat of Offaly with another win.

4 p.m.: SF Cork vs. Down

Both sides are coming of losses last week so they will both want to rebound ASAP.

Cork left it a little late against Leitrim but were on the ascension. If they can get scoring from another avenue besides J.P. Boyle that will be crucial. The big man is carrying the mantle from frees and play.

Sean Lordon is fitting into center back very well and is gaining in confidence each week. Denis McCarthy is close to his level of last season when he was the number one marking defender in New York. Evan Byrne calms the ship and keeps them on their toes.

Down disappointed last week when they got ahead, but then allowed Tyrone to make a comeback. Richard Dalton from Offaly can only improve. When he came out the field it seemed to help him. James Mitchell is very confident at six, while the midfield of Garth O’Neill and Brendan McGrourty also need time to get used to each other. It will come. Michael O’Rourke is a nippy forward but bigger things are expected from Pakie Downey.

Cork may not have anyone to match up with him this week and that may be the difference.

Down in a close contest, 1-12 to 0-13.