TG4 All-Ireland champions Dublin to make 2018 bow in Leinster final, while All-Ireland minor final slots up for grabs

TG4 Leinster and All-Ireland champions Dublin make their first championship appearance of the 2018 campaign this weekend.

The Sky Blues aim for seven-in-a-row in Leinster when they take on Westmeath in the TG4 provincial decider at Netwatch Cullen Park on Sunday (4.0).

That’s the big senior game of the weekend but the TG4 Leinster junior and intermediate finals are also down for decision in an attractive triple-header.

Carlow will hope to retain their junior crown against Louth, who are now under the management of Darren Bishop following the untimely passing of Mícheál McKeown, while the intermediate decider will be contested by Wicklow and Laois.

On Saturday, the 2018 All-Ireland minor A and B finalists will be revealed.

Holders Cork take on Dublin and Cavan meet Galway in the A semi-finals, while it’s Kildare against Waterford and Antrim up against Roscommon in the last four of the B competition.


Saturday June 30:


All-Ireland Minor A semi-finals


Cavan v Galway; Moate, Westmeath, 2pm.


Cavan haven’t contested an All-Ireland minor A final since 1980 but are potentially just an hour away from ending that long wait for another decider.

But they’re against Galway, runners-up last year and aiming to reach the final for the fifth time in six years.

Cavan will call upon a number of players who landed the Lidl All-Ireland Post-Primary Schools A title earlier this year, including Muireann Cusack, who scored two goals in that final against Loreto Clonmel.

But Galway have a strong team of their own and at full-forward, Andrea Trill is a player of rich attacking quality.

Cork v Dublin; MacDonagh Park, Nenagh, 3.15pm.


Cork are the holders and aiming for a fourth successive All-Ireland minor A title this year.

And there’s a healthy number of survivors from the team that landed three-in-a-row last year.

Cork’s side includes Fiona Keating, who was the TG4 Munster Young Player of the Year in 2017, while Emma Cleary is daughter of team manager and former Cork All-Ireland winner John.

But Dublin won’t be short on confidence after landing an eighth successive Leinster title.

Dublin had a really good spread of scorers against Meath and Laura Carthy bagged 1-2 on the day, and forms one-third of an inside line that also includes excellent forwards Caoimhe O’Connor and Kate Sullivan.


All-Ireland Minor B semi-finals


Kildare v Waterford; MacDonagh Park, Nenagh, 1.30pm.


The Kildare-Waterford All-Ireland minor B semi-final is the curtain-raiser at MacDonagh Park in Nenagh on Saturday.

For both of these counties, it’s the chance to reach a very first All-Ireland minor B decider, although Waterford did contest a number of A finals in the 1990s, and in 2001.

These counties met in the All-Ireland U16 B final last year, when the Déise came out on top.


Antrim v Roscommon; Monaghan Harps, 2pm.


Roscommon, the runners-up last year, are aiming to go one step further and get their hands on the All-Ireland minor B title.

The Rossies won this competition in 2009, and also contested an A decider back in 1991.

Standing in their way are Antrim, who have never contested an All-Ireland minor decider.


Sunday July 1:


TG4 Leinster JFC final


Carlow v Louth; Netwatch Cullen Park, Carlow, 12pm.


Carlow, the holders, put their TG4 Leinster junior championship crown on the line against Louth at Netwatch Cullen Park, in the first of a triple-header.

Their opponents, Louth, will be playing their first competitive game since the untimely passing of Mícheál McKeown, who guided the Wee County to a Lidl National League Division 4 final appearance against Wicklow.

Louth and Carlow both defeated Kilkenny to reach the Leinster final and while Louth will start as favourites, they have a number of injury worries to contend with.

Darren Bishop has stepped in as Louth boss and will hope to overturn champions Carlow, who were beaten TG4 All-Ireland semi-finalists last year.


TG4 Leinster IFC final


Laois v Wicklow, Netwatch Cullen Park, Carlow, 2pm.


Wicklow manager Mick O’Rourke will hope to cap a memorable week by guiding Wicklow to the TG4 Leinster intermediate title.

O’Rourke and his wife Chrissie welcomed a baby boy into the world during the week and provincial silverware would provide the icing on the cake.

Wicklow are unbeaten in 2018, having captured the Lidl NFL Division 4 title before marching impressively into a Leinster final.

But they’ll face stiff opposition from Laois, who were relegated from the senior grade in 2017.

The O’Moore County will hope that landing a Leinster title will provide a springboard to a possible senior return.


TG4 Leinster SFC final


Dublin v Westmeath; Netwatch Cullen Park, Carlow, 4pm.


All eyes will be on reigning TG4 Leinster and All-Ireland champions Dublin as they play their first championship game of 2018.

The Sky Blues, under the guidance of Mick Bohan, also captured a very first Lidl NFL Division 1 title in impressive fashion against Mayo at Parnell Park in May.

They’re now gunning for a seventh successive Leinster senior crown and on all known form, they’ll prove difficult to stop.

Dublin beat Westmeath by 3-18 to 0-8 in the 2017 Leinster final but just five points separated the counties when they clashed in the group stages of the League campaign earlier this year.

The winners of the Leinster title will go into Group 4 for the round-robin phase of the All-Ireland qualifiers, alongside Mayo and Cavan.

A Dublin win would throw up the tasty prospect of a repeat of the 2017 All-Ireland and 2018 Lidl NFL finals against Mayo but Westmeath will aim to produce a competitive display and put a spanner in the works.

The Leinster final runners-up will pitch up against Connacht champions Galway and Munster outfit Waterford in group 3 of the qualifiers.

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