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Dublin: 6°C Wednesday 20 January 2021
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Ballymun Kickhams return to Leinster arena to face Mullingar Shamrocks

After a 27-year absence, Ballymun Kickhams return to provincial senior club football action this weekend. There are also three other quarter-final ties in the eastern province

Dean Rock will be a key player for Ballymun Kickhams.
Dean Rock will be a key player for Ballymun Kickhams.
Image: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

THE NUMBER OF teams in the reckoning for this year’s Leinster club title will be whittled down to four tomorrow, provided there are no draws in the quarter-final clashes.

With big name teams like Garrycastle, Kilmacud Crokes and Rhode the provincial landscape looks interesting this season.

Tomorrow’s clashes take place in Mullingar, Aughrim, Newbridge and Longford. Here’s a look ahead to them.

Leinster Club SFC quarter-finals
Mullingar Shamrocks (Westmeath) v Ballymun Kickhams (Dublin)
Cusack Park, Mullingar, 2pm, (Ref: Fergal Barry, Kildare)
For both these clubs, their recent county wins were ones to celebrate. Mullingar Shamrocks broke Garrycastle’s dominance in Westmeath to win their first county final since 2000. For Ballymun Kickhams their silverware drought had last longer as they tasted Dublin glory for the first time since 1985 with a recent win over Kilmacud Crokes.

Kieran Gavin is the lynchpin of the Mullingar Shamrocks team while Donal O’Donoghue has vast inter-county experience as well. Yet Gavin’s DCU Sigerson Cup winning teammates Philly McMahon, James McCarthy and Dean Rock ensure Ballymun Kickhams pack a formidable punch. Coupled with the influence of Alan Hubbard and Jason Whelan, the Paul Curran-managed team can prevail.

Verdict: Ballymun Kickhams
Betting: Mullingar Shamrocks 9/4, Ballymun Kickhams 4/9, Draw 15/2

St Patrick’s (Wicklow) v Portlaoise (Laois)
Aughrim, 2.30pm, (Ref: David Gough, Meath)
After winning their sixth successive county title recently, Portlaoise are experienced campaigners in the Leinster championship.  Their team is packed with inter-county stars like the Laois trio of Cahir Healy, Kieran Lillis and Paul Cahillane and Tipperary’s Hugh Coghlan.

St Patrick’s enjoyed a dramatic win over Carlow’s Éire Óg last time out when Paul Earls notched the match-winning goal. They return to Aughrim now with Earls and Mayo native Austin O’Malley being central to their hopes of progression. Yet it is difficult to look past a Portlaoise team who will be keen to make their mark on the provincial stage.

Verdict: Portlaoise
Betting: St Patrick’s 4/1, Portlaoise 1/4, Draw 8/1

Sarsfields Enda Freaney and Alan Smith celebrating after their Kildare county final victory. Pic: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Sarsfields (Kildare) v St Patrick’s (Louth)
St Conleth’s Park, Newbridge, 2.30pm, (Ref: Fergal Kelly, Longford)
St Patrick’s sprung a major upset when claiming the scalp of Rhode, the Offaly club who have reached two of the last four provincial finals, in their opening round tie a fortnight ago. Paddy Keenan is a towering presence in the middle of the park for the Louth champions.

Kildare side Sarsfields are back in the Leinster championship for the first time since 2005 and have inter-county figures in Gary White and Alan Smith. They are aiming to build on their county final victory over Carbury and have home advantage for this game which is another asset for them.

Verdict: Sarsfields
Betting: Sarsfields 4/6, St Patrick’s 13/8, Draw 13/2

Emmett Óg Killoe (Longford) v Navan O’Mahony’s (Meath)
Glennon Brothers Pearse Park, Longford, 2.30pm, (Ref: Gary McCormack, Dublin)
After the joy of their first county title since 1995 when they defeated Longford Slashers after a final replay, Emmett Óg Killoe continued their development with a win over Wexford’s St Anne’s by three points in their opening round tie in Leinster. Michael Quinn and Seanie McCormack are their key inter-county men.

Their opponents Navan O’Mahony’s looked extremely impressive when dispatching Wolfe Tones in their county final. Stephen Bray and Alan Forde are recognized inter-county players while Jake Regan and Shane Gillespie offer further threats in attack.

Verdict: Navan O’Mahony’s
Betting: Emmet Óg Killoe 15/8, Navan O’Mahony’s 4/7, Draw 13/2

About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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