FROM ODHRÁN CRUMLEY
The Qualifiers swing around for another year, for many this will be their last championship game, their last taste of competitive inter-county football until next spring.
WATERFORD VS DERRY, FRAHER FIELD, SATURDAY 3PM
An intriguing clash between two sides who have taken conflicting views from their championship openers. Waterford come into the game buoyed by their strong showing pushing Munster finalists, Cork all the way before losing by the narrowest of margins.
Derry on the other hand received their second eleven point hammering at the hands of rivals Tyrone for the in as many years in front of their home support. After relegation from Division Two the Oakleafers will be keen to get a result and make something of their season.
Damian Barton’s men face a gruelling 270 mile trip to Dungarvan, this will not be a routine trip south as they face a Deise side eager to build on a strong opener they believe they were unlucky to lose.
Tom McGlinchey’s men will look to expose the Foylesiders with Donie Breathnach consistent in free taking duties, an area where the visitors will need to be careful of after conceding a heavy amount of frees against Tyrone.
Derry have conceded an average of twenty points over the course of the league and championship, Waterford have an average concession of fifteen. A goal could go a long way towards the deciding of this game.
LOUTH VS LONGFORD, GAELIC GROUNDS, SATURDAY 5PM
Expect a high scoring clash as Louth and Longford collide after conceding heavily in their Leinster championship exits. The ‘wee’ county conceded twenty seven points as they lost out to Meath, while Longford shipped 4-15 at the hands of Laois.
The bulk of those scores came late on as both sides were competitive for the vast majority of the contest. Longford have had success in the Qualifiers in recent years accounting for Derry, Down and Monaghan on the road. Robbie Smyth will be key to the midlanders charge after rattling up a personal tally of 0-11 against Laois.
Louth have been bolstered that by the return of Andy McDonnell and home advantage for the clash. The bookmakers are finding it very difficult to separate the sides I believe that home advantage will aid the Louth cause.
WICKLOW VS LAOIS, AUGHRIM, SATURDAY 5PM
The second all Leinster clash in this section of the qualifiers pairs Wicklow and Laois. The home side exited the Leinster championship early on at the hands of Louth. While Laois overcame Longford before losing heavily at the hands of Kildare.
Both sides last met in the 2016 Leinster Championship Wicklow pushing Laois all the way before a late Kingston goal gave his side the lead.
Laois’ inside trio of Kingston, Walsh and O’Carroll will cause problems for the Wicklow defence. While at the other end Kenny, Cunningham and Furlong will look to keep Wicklow in touch.
Peter Creedon’s men should be too strong and get their championship back on track.
SLIGO VS ANTRIM, MARKIEVICH PARK, 5PM
Both Sligo and Antrim saw their respective provincial championship’s by sides harbouring hopes of challenging for honours come September.
A youthful Sligo side pushed Mayo all the way last month while Antrim frustrated Donegal in a positive first half before losing star player Matthew Fitzpatrick to injury making for a disappointing second half.
Both sides met in Division Three of this year’s league Antrim coming out on top on that occasion by the narrowest of margins. Both sides have conceded an average of seventeen points at this point in their season while opting to go for a more defensive approach in their championship openers.
It will be interesting to see what system both sides deploy but one things for sure that Fitzpatrick and Breheny will be crucial to their sides cause,