St Brigid's Karol Mannion. INPHO/James Crombie
Football Battles

Salthill and Brigid's face off in Connacht showdown

Ballaghaderreen and Curry meet in the other Connacht semi-final, Crossmaglen Rangers make their 2012 provincial bow in Ulster while the replay of the Waterford final also takes place.

THERE’S NO DOUBTING the glamour tie in Connacht club football this weekend.

Tomorrow in Pearse Stadium sees St Brigid’s of Roscommon, chasing their third successive provincial crown, face off against Galway champions Salthill-Knocknacarra.

Elsewhere in Connacht in Elvery’s McHale Park, Mayo’s Ballaghadereen meet Sligo side Curry in the other semi-final.

Meanwhile in Ulster the focus is on the clash between reigning champions Crossmaglen Rangers and St Eunan’s while the Waterford county final replay is also on this weekend. Here’s a look ahead to those four games.

Connacht Club SFC semi-finals
Salthill-Knocknacarra (Galway) v St Brigid’s (Roscommon)
Pearse Stadium, 2.30pm, (Ref: Michael Duffy, Sligo)
St Brigid’s consistency has been excellent in recent years with two successive Connacht titles firmly establishing their credentials. They did their business efficiently in picking up another Roscommon championship win and looked formidable in defeating Leitirm’s Melvin Gaels last time out.

They have experience on the sideline in the shape of Mayo duo Kevin McStay and Liam McHale while on the pitch Senan Kilbride, Karol Mannion and Peter Domican are influential figures.

Yet this will be a testing afternoon for them, having to travel to face the Galway champions. Salthill-Knocknacarra looked impressive when despatching Tuam Stars in their county decider and in 2005 they got the better of St Brigid’s in the Connacht final and have survivors in Finian Hanley, Sean Armstrong and Alan Kerins.

They will be keen to make their mark as they return to the provincial stage for the first time since 2005.

Verdict: Salthill-Knocknacarra
Betting: Salthill-Knocknacarra 13/8, St Brigid’s 4/6, Draw 13/2

Ballaghaderreen (Mayo) v Curry (Sligo)
Elverys McHale Park, Castlebar, 2.30pm, (Ref: Eamon O’Grady, Leitrim)
Neither of these sides will take this chance for granted as Ballaghaderreen’s last two Connacht campaigns were in 1972 and 2008 while Curry have only featured here in 2003 and 2006. Ballaghaderreen fell short against Sligo opposition as well four years ago when they lost out to Eastern Harps.

The loss of their talismanic attacker Andy Moran through injury did not hinder their efforts in the Mayo final as they felled three-in-a-row chasing Ballintubber. Barry Regan along with the Kilcullen brothers, James and David, are key men in their setup.

A replication of their county final display can take them past a Curry side who will be hoping Adrian Marren and David Maye can shine.

Verdict: Ballaghaderreen
Betting: Ballaghaderreen 2/5, Curry 5/2, Draw 7/1

Crossmaglen Rangers player Aaron Kernan. Pic: INPHO/Donall Farmer

Ulster Club SFC quarter-final: Crossmaglen Rangers (Armagh) v St Eunan’s (Donegal)
Athletic Grounds, 2.30pm, (Ref: Michael Higgins, Fermanagh)
St Eunan’s have little time to celebrate in the wake of last Sunday’s Donegal county final triumph. That success was borne out of adversity as Naomh Conaill dominated most of the game. But Lee McMonagle’s goal was a critical score before Mark McGowan notched the match-winner. The experience of Rory Kavanagh and Conal Dunne will be important here.

Yet it is hard to look past Crossmaglen Rangers. They have home advantage and the effects of last week’s game must tell against St Eunan’s to some extent. Crossmaglen have lost Danny O’Callaghan, Stephen Finnegan and Francis Hanratty from last March’s All-Ireland winning team but Aaron Kernan, Johnny Hanratty and Jamie Clarke can get them over the line here.

Verdict: Crossmaglen Rangers
Betting: Crossmaglen Rangers 1/8, St Eunan’s 13/2, Draw 12/1

Waterford SFC final replay: Stradbally v The Nire
Fraher Field, Dungarvan, 7pm, (Ref: TBC)
Once more this pair square off in a Waterford county decider after last week’s low-scoring affair ended in a draw, 2-2 to 0-8. The wretched weather conditions were certainly a factor in the play.

It was a familiar result as well as it proved the fourth time in the last decade that these two teams drew in a final. Robert Ahearne raised two green flags for Stradbally while Liam Lawlor showed up well for The Nire. If they can avoid the concession of goals this time, it might prove decisive.

Verdict: The Nire
Betting: Stradbally evens, The Nire 6/5, Draw 11/2

2012 Connacht Club SFC team-by-team guide

2012 Munster Club SFC team-by-team guide