Glen, St Thomas and Nemo Rangers all in action today. INPHO

5 key GAA club county final storylines to watch out for today

Mayo, Derry, Galway, Cork and Tipperary finals some of the key games in store.

Compiled by Declan Bogue and Fintan O’Toole


  • SFC final: Breaffy v Ballina Stephenites, MacHale Park, Castlebar, 4.15pm.

Just shy of two decades ago, a very different kind of GAA book came across our desk with ‘Ireland’s Professional Amateurs.’

Basically, the author Andy Mendlowitz was a sportswriter for a small-town newspaper in Virginia when he came to Ireland for a vacation in 2002. On his first day he became captivated by a hurling game.

Two years later he returned for a year with the idea of following some trends and bringing stories back. One was the rise of Ballina Stephenites.

At the time, David Brady had taken all the heartache he was capable of with multiple All-Ireland final losses. But then he came home from Australia and won it all with his home club.

There are parallels with Breaffy. It could be argued that they are the Mayo, of Mayo club football with a long list of final appearances and no championships.

As coincidence would have it, they meet Ballina thins Sunday. It’s Aidan O’Shea’s fifth final. He’s the latter day David Brady.

Is it written in the stars?


  • SFC  final: Glen v Magherafelt, Celtic Park, 3.30pm.

Whisper it now, but there’s a serious sense that right now, it’s an era of the superclub.

We have Kilmacud Crokes winning out in Dublin. Moycullen keeping the show on the road in Galway. Kilcoo winning their 11th title from 12 in Down and the usual suspects emerging in Kilkenny and Limerick.

In Ulster football, that sense is even more pronounced. Derrygonnelly Harps are back on top in Fermanagh, their seventh in nine years, while Cargin have achieved the eact same record in Antrim.

Glen only won their first Derry title in 2021 with victory over Slaughtneil, but they backed it up last year with another final win over their neighbours.

In the semi-final played in Owenbeg a fortnight ago, those who caught the scoreline – 1-5 to 0-6 – might have winced at the attractional and grinding nature of the game. Those actually at the game spoke of an evening spent living on their nerves.

This Sunday, it’s Magherafelt in the final against Glen. They won it in 2019 and lost the final in 2020 to Slaughtneil. Spoiler alert; they like to bring everyone behind the ball when they don’t have it.


  • SHC final: St Thomas v Turloughmore, Pearse Stadium, 2pm.

Staying on the theme, it’s entirely natural now that some clubs can get their first taste of success and almost transform over the course of two seasons into a aforementioned superclub.

Step forward Galway hurling champions, St Thomas’.

They won their first Galway title in 2012 and have compiled seven altogether. They have never been beaten in a final.

And this Sunday they are going for a six-in-a-row of titles.

This would equal the record of Turloughmore, who landed Galway titles every year from 1961 to 1966.

Guess who St Thomas’ meet in the final this Sunday? Go on!

Yep, Turloughmore.

Both sides met in the 2020 final, St Thomas’ narrowly getting through by 1-14 to 0-15.

There’s no end to the motivation for Turloughmore to preserve their sense of history in this one.


  • SFC final: Castlehaven v Nemo Rangers, Páirc Uí Chaoimh, 3pm.

It is a decade since Castlehaven last lifted the Andy Scannell Cup. Brian Hurley’s performance illuminated their success in that Cork senior football decider, his magnificent shooting yielded a dozen points. They took down Nemo Rangers that day as they retained their crown and yet the wait has gone on since then for Castlehaven to embrace that feeling of success once more.

They have suffered a catalogue of disappointments since then, losses arriving in all different shapes – 2015 final replay, 2018 semi-final second replay, 2020 final (delayed to the summer of 2021 due to Covid), then semi-finals in 2021 and 2022.

Today is a shot to redress the record then, a final pitting themselves against Nemo Rangers. Castlehaven arrive on the back of a classy display that took down St Finbarr’s a fortnight ago but ousting the kingpins in a final is far from straightforward. Nemo have won four of the last six finals and are the masters of plotting a route through these scenarios.


  • SHC final replay: Kiladangan v Thurles Sarsfields, Semple Stadium, 3pm.

There is a familiar factor at play on Tipperary county final day. For the third year on the spin, a replay is necessary to identify the champions, while the 2020 decider also went as far as extra-time before producing a victor.

Kiladangan and Thurles Sarsfields do not need to be reminded of replays.  Last year Kiladangan lost out by seven points at the hands of Kilruane MacDonaghs in the replay; in 2021 it was Thurles who  fell a point short against Loughmore-Castleiney.

County final losses always spark regrets but to lose another final replay in a short space of time would be particularly wounding. That will fuel the drive for both teams. Thurles Sarsfields hoping that Aidan McCormack, Stephen Cahill and Darragh Stakelum can point the way once more, Kiladangan aiming to tap into the resolve that saw Paul Flynn’s goal and a late Willie Connor point ignite their revival the last day.