BIG-MATCH PREDICTIONS | 

Pat Spillane’s All-Ireland Club SFC semi-final verdicts

Conor Glass of Glen should lead the Derry champions to victory against Moycullen. Photo: Ben McShane/Sportsfile© SPORTSFILE

Pat SpillaneSunday World

Kilmacud Crokes v Kerins O’Rahillys,

AIB All-Ireland SFC Club semi-finals

Croke Park, 1.30, Live TG4

Let’s state the obvious: Kilmacud are raging-hot favourites and should win. But Kerry teams that feature in Croke Park draw inspiration from the county’s rich tradition and will believe in themselves.

Kerry midfielder David Moran anchors the team from midfield. Tommy Walsh is an effective target man, while Jack Savage would be a first-choice player on the majority of inter-county teams.

Cormac Coffey is a pacey defender, who will probably have the job of marking Shane Walsh.

One has to admire the Tralee club’s never-say-die attitude – they have eked out a one-point win in their last four championship games.

But let’s not get carried away. The 2022 Kerry club championship was the poorest I’ve ever witnessed.

O’Rahillys are an ordinary side who lack pace in defence – and their overall strength and conditioning is not at the same level as the other semi-finalists.

I was puzzled as to why they agreed to play in Croke Park, because their best hope of springing a big shock was to get Crokes into a tight ground with a poor surface.

Kilmacud Crokes are a better team than last year, when they should have beaten Kilcoo in the All-Ireland final. Shane Walsh has been a huge addition. They’re very well balanced and, unlike their opponents, have a strong squad.

Croke Park is their second home and their astute manager Robbie Brennan will find a way to put the shackles on Moran.

Even though they haven’t been tested since the Dublin final, Crokes ought to win this comfortably.

Verdict: Kilmacud Crokes

Moycullen v Glen, Croke Park, 3.30

Match of the day by a long shot. Croke Park will suit the Galway champions, as they are a pacey, running side. The Kelly brothers, Peter Cooke and Dessie Conneely are all serious operators.

But they struggled to break down Tourlestrane’s blanket defence in the Connacht final. They don’t have a target man or the kicking game needed to neutralise the kind of defensive wall Glen will erect.

I like the look of the Derry champions. They came through the most competitive of the provincial championships – securing impressive wins over two former provincial winners in Errigal Ciaran and Kilcoo; the latter were also the defending All-Ireland champions.

They are going to dominate midfield through the efforts of Conor Glass and Emmett Bradley – and are a physically strong, hard-working side who specialise in achieving turnovers. Once they stop Moycullen’s running game, I believe they will advance.

Verdict: Glen.


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