Sarsfields Barry Coffey squeezes his way past Raheens duo of Killian Thompson (grounded) and David Malone in the Joe Mallon (Renault) Motors SFC, Round 2 clash. Photo: Sean Brilly
The final round of the Senior Football Championship group stages are this weekend and there are some tasty fixtures on the calendar. These are my previews and predictions ahead of the final round of group stage fixtures.
SFC Group D at 13:45 on Saturday August 20
Clogherinkoe V Confey, at Hawkfield Pitch 1
Confey have been poor throughout this campaign and from where I’m sitting have done little to prove that might change this weekend.
Clogherinkoe will still not know how they only drew with St Laurence’s last time out but it was a good performance until that point. And it is hard to see Confey producing a similar late surge. But like all of these predictions, I am more than happy to be proved wrong but Clogherinkoe get the nod from me here.
St. Laurence's V Kilcock, at St Conleth's Park
St Laurence’s produced a late burst of scores to get out of Newbridge with a point at Clogherinkoe’s expense. The tight Clogherinkoe defence has been a staple of this group and the Cloghers kept the Larries quieter than I believe Kilcock will be able to.
Kilcock conversely to this weekend’s free-scoring opponents have struggled to register impressive scorelines. The Larries will likely afford them more space than others in this group have but the reason they can is because of that firepower down the other end. I feel that will get them over the line here.
SFC Group B at 17:30 Saturday August 20
Raheens V Celbridge at Hawkfield Pitch 1
Both of these teams are fresh off a humbling defeat to say the least. Celbridge were the talk of the Championship after upsetting Sarsfields early on but following a good old fashioned whoopin’ from an excellent Clane they will have their feet firmly planted on the ground.
Raheens felt the wrath of a Sarsfields rebound while still wearing their own scars of a painfully narrow defeat to current table-toppers Clane.
Despite the obvious quality on paper for Celbridge, their quality of performance is never a certainty and Raheens most certainly have scoring potential with the likes of Rob Thompson in their ranks to worry teams. However, I am merely flagging the potential for an upset but I can't say I am predicting one. I think Celbridge will have enough.
Sarsfields V Clane, at St Conleth's Park
This is most certainly one of those aforementioned tasty fixtures. Clane on blistering form and Sarsfields still on their revenge tour to re-establish themselves as one of this Championship's big contenders.
I can’t say I am confident in this one one way or another, there are far too many variables and that’s the beauty of this game. I’m picking Sarsfields and I think they will get there but this pick is one stop short of a coin flip.
Will Clane produce that form again?
Will Sarsfields revert back to their opening day form or continue at their current pace?
We don't know and we can’t wait to find out.
SFC Group A at 15:30 on Sunday August 21
Eadestown V Athy, at Hawkfield Pitch 1
I was impressed with Eadestown last time out, their hard work and endeavour got them a point against Maynooth. Despite the last gasp equaliser I thought taken as a full 60-minute game they were the better side.
Athy never got going against Naas, it was a series of unfortunate events for them against the champions. The first of which came with an all too early and all too easy Darragh Kirwan goal. Before the first half was out Kildare star Kevin Feely had hobbled off and main scoring threat Niall Kelly was on the sideline with a black card. I think Naas are the better team but not by as much as we saw last time out.
Eadestown battled hard against Naas when they played, but ultimately didn't have the level of quality that Naas did. I think there might be a similar situation this time around. I think it will be much closer than the Naas game and it would be because the score difference could be vital in Eadestown’s progression in that third place and a preliminary quarter final spot.
Prediction: Athy (Eadestown to qualify in third)
Maynooth V Naas, at St Conleth's Park, Raymond Kelly.
Maynooth shared the points with Eadestown and should they come up short against Naas they will be relying on score difference elsewhere (and an Eadestown loss) to try and sneak into a preliminary quarter final. Maynooth are very reliant on Neil Flynn and will need him to perform again if they are to keep within touching distance of Naas.
Naas coasted to victory against Athy, it was one of those scary performances if you are another side eyeing this year’s Championship. Naas appeared to dispatch Athy while not leaving third gear, there were factors at play which I highlighted but they should not detract from a sterling Naas performance.
SFC Group C at 17:30 on Sunday August 21
Round Towers V Moorefield, at Hawkfield Pitch 1
Moorefield are unbeaten. Moorefield haven't won a game yet. There are plenty of ways to look at their season so far but there is no doubt they have shown much more quality than Round Towers across their respective two fixtures. Towers have previous in terms of upsetting the Moores but I don’t fancy that to happen here.
Johnstownbridge V Carbury, at St Conleth's Park
This game could be an absolutely brilliant watch and I'm betting it will be. And I tell you what that is absolutely all I will be betting on when it comes to this game. If Sarsfields and Clane was one stop short of a coin flip, I might call Scooby and the gang to solve this one because I haven't a clue who takes these two points.
What Johnstownbridge will show up? Exhilarating on their day but those days just don’t come around often enough. I’ve never seen anything so flaky that wasn't jammed into a 99.
Carbury have a big chance to get one over on their local rivals here and this game should provide all the necessary spice to accompany such a game. If a local derby wasn’t enough the Championship implications should kick the tension here up ten notches.
Despite the playful jibe, I am big fan of Johnstownbridge and their play style, I think they will edge this one. We don't choose draws in these predictions because they are a widely accepted cop-out but just bear that in mind whatever way this one ends up.
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