No hiding places as SFC hits business end

CAN Sarsfields exact revenge on Naas following their opening round shock defeat? Who will survive between Celbridge and St Laurence’s and can last year’s beaten finalists, Carbury, advance to the last four when they take on surprise packets, Confey, this weekend? writes Tommy Callaghan.

CAN Sarsfields exact revenge on Naas following their opening round shock defeat? Who will survive between Celbridge and St Laurence’s and can last year’s beaten finalists, Carbury, advance to the last four when they take on surprise packets, Confey, this weekend? writes Tommy Callaghan.

Lots of questions, lots of pondering and lots of opinions but by Sunday evening we will know three of the semi finalists with the remaining one between Moorefield and the winners of Wednesday evening’s replay between county champions Athy and Clane still to come.

First things first though and that meeting between Sarsfields and Naas.

The Newbridge boys, under boss John Crofton, will be out for revenge following Mark Millham’s Naas side shock win by a single point in the opening game of the championship.

Sarsfields have picked themselves up with wins over St Kevin’s and Leixlip, and while both of these games were won comfortably by the Newbridge boys, nevertheless there are still some searching questions to be asked as both their opponents could be described as light weight.

Naas, on the other hand recorded a somewhat fortuitus win over Leixlip with a late, late goal after losing a two point lead with minutes remaining and if one was to go strictly on those Leixlip games (Sarsfields demolished Leixlip) then the Sash should be more than capable of turning over Naas this time around.

If Naas are to win they will need top games from the likes of Eamonn Callaghan, Eoin Doyle and the influential Conor Mellett but the Sash, look to have more armoury when you see the likes of Gary White, Sean Campbell, Ray Cahill, Padraig Brennan, Declan McKenna, to name just a few.

A very interesting game and while Sarsfields get the vote, Naas will be aware they have already got the better of their opponents.

Prediction: Sarsfields.

Match betting: Sarsfields 1/3: Naas 5/2; draw 8/1.

Celbridge and St Laurence’s is another fascinating game, also in Hawkfield on Sunday, and this has real potential to be a cracker.

Both of these sides are fancied to make a major impact and while Celbridge made it through to the quarters with wins over Suncroft and Ballymore Eustace, it has to be said neither were overly impressive.

The Larries, on the other hand, lost their opener to Carbury but picked themselves up defeating Round Towers (dour game) but really looked good last weekend when hitting 3-15 against Ballymore Eustace.

Celbridge lost to Sarsfields in the final of the Leinster Leader Cup, a game that was close up to the last ten minutes or so and they will be favourites to advanced with the likes of Hugh McGrillen, Ollie Lyons, Conor Brophy and Shane Harte in form.

The Larries, though are strong throughout out, have a very impressive front six with Shaun Fahey, Pádraig Fogarty, the Lawler boys, adding in the O’Neills and a few more very experience players and they could just shock the Hazelhatch side on this occasion.

Match prediction: St Laurence’s.

Match betting: Celbridge 4/6 St Laurence’s 5/4; draw 7/1.

The final game of this weekend’s SFC sees Carbury take on Confey on Sunday in Clane with a 12.30pm throw-in. This one was not due until the following weekend but, presumably due to Confey’s involvement in the SHC, the game is brought forward to Sunday.

Confey have been one of the surprises of this year’s SFC and while one could argue they got the rub of the green on more than one occasion in the group draws, nevertheless Ronan Quinn has a structure to his side and as they showed last weekend when defeating Maynooth.

They are a tough side to crack with some excellent players in the likes of Michael ‘Mitch’ McCann, Conor Feeney, the Divilly boys and of course county man Hugh Lynch and cannot be taken for granted.

Carbury, on the other hand, are definitely a side coming somewhat under the radar. Beaten finalists last term, the word from the West Kildare outfit is that they are in flying from and, more importantly, confident they could go one better this time around.

They have some top class players, none more so than the O’Flaherty boys who on their day are capable of causing the best of teams many problems. But Carbury are far from a two man brigade what with the likes of the experienced Terry Rossiter, David Cash, Willie Groome and Andrew Darmody, they are all out to make up for last season’s final disappointment and it is difficult to Coney stopping them in their tracks.

Match prediction: Carbury.

Match betting, Carbury 1/5 Confey 7/2; draw 8/1.

Betting odds: Cill Dara Betting.