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Pat Spillane’s verdict ahead of Sunday’s GAA matches

Galway and Kerry double on the cards – but what will the winning margins be?

8 April 2023; Sligo Manager Tony McEntee before the Connacht GAA Football Senior Championship Quarter-Final match between London and Sligo at McGovern Park in Ruislip, London. Photo by Matt Impey/Sportsfile© SPORTSFILE

Pat Spillane

Connacht SFC Final

Galway v Sligo, Hastings Insurance MacHale Park, Castlebar. 1.45. Live on RTE 2

Sligo are in bonus territory having secured promotion to Division 3 and a place in the Sam Maguire series. I have been watching Sligo closely for two years and they are much improved this season. They are on a run of nine consecutive wins – a record for Sligo at senior level.

Defensively they had the best record in Division 4. Their shooting efficiency, game management and fast transition play are all impressive.

But they are stepping up several rungs in class today. Being realistic this is a big ask for Sligo. In their last Connacht final appearance in 2015 against Mayo they lost by 26 points and Aidan O’Shea scored 3-4.

Tony McEntee will be looking for a performance, hoping they play to their potential and make the game competitive for as long as possible. They will learn a lot from playing a much higher rated team.

Clutching at straw maybe Galway will struggle with the tag of raging hot favourites.

But they tick so many boxes: conditioning, physicality, All-Ireland finalists, four current All Stars, Division 1 league finalists, best defensive record in Division 1.

They have strengthened their panel and Damien Comer is best to his wrecking best. Galway are used to featuring in Connacht finals and in MacHale Park. This is all new territory for Sligo.

Galway to triumph in what I hope will be a more competitive game than many expect.

Verdict: Galway

Munster SFC Final

Clare v Kerry, TUG Gaelic Grounds, Limerick, 4.0. Live on RTE 2

I am sure Jack O’Connor has mentioned to his players that the last time Kerry met Clare in a Munster final in the Gaelic Grounds was in 1992. Everybody in the Kingdom knows what happened that day. It was a black day for Kerry football.

I was co-commenting with Marty Morrissey and I still recall the chanting of the Clare supporters afterwards. Who is f… is Jacko? ( a reference to Jack O’Shea, who retired immediately after the game). I don’t think Kerry will lack motivation.

They discovered little in the way of new talent during the league and will fret over the possibility of David Clifford being held and the fact that since the retirement of David Moran centre field is a problem area. And they haven’t scored a goal in the last two matches.

But honestly though Clare and well organised and brilliantly coached I cannot see anything other than a Kerry victory.

They are coming to the boil at the right time. They have achieved the targets they set for the spring: staying in Division One by winning their three home games. They had a very good training camp in Portugal and enjoy a 20 point cruise in second gear against Tipperary.

Clare would have had a chance in Ennis but will struggle to impose their game plan at the Gaelic Grounds. Kerry by at least seven or eight though possible more.

Verdict: Kerry

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