Shane and Michael review round 4 of the Joe McDonagh Cup action and look ahead to a fascinating final round.
The fourth round of the Joe McDonagh cup teed things up for a thrilling finale this weekend with three teams still in the running to book their final place against Offaly on in Croke Park on May 27.
It was hot and heavy at times in Glenisk O’Connor Park but a 0-13 haul form Eoghan Cahill – ten of which came from placed balls – helped to steer the Faithful home in good style against Kerry, 1-24 to 0-16.
That means Johnny’s Kelly men are assured of their final place having won their four games so far in the second-tier competition – they are now unbeaten in their last 11 games between League and championship.
Considering they lost star forward Oisín Kelly to another cruciate knee ligament injury a few months back, this is a fair achievement and they are already guaranteed their place in this year’s All-Ireland SHC preliminary quarter-final.
The Joe McDonagh cup winners will play the third-placed team in Leinster on June 17 while the beaten finalists will play the third-placed Munster team but there will be a lot of water under the bridge before then.
Offaly have earned the right to rest some of their marquee men heading into the final weekend of action but that could have devastating effects on two of the teams chasing a final place.
Willie Maher’s Laois must beat Kerry to have a chance of making the final while they will also need a possibly-depleted Offaly to take care of Carlow in a dead rubber for the Faithful.
Similarly, Stephen Molumphy’s Kerry (beaten in the last three McDonagh Cup finals) need to beat Laois and hope for a favour from neighbours, and old enemies, Offaly but Carlow have the simplest equation ahead of them.
Should they defeat Offaly, Tom Mullally’s charges will make the final and book another date with the Faithful, and that looks the most likely scenario.
There is also plenty of interest at the other end with Down needing to beat Kildare to avoid relegation back to the Christy Ring Cup. Should Ronan Sheehan’s men prevail, demotion would be a killer for David Herity’s Kildare after making great strides in recent seasons.
Watch this space with plenty of drama ahead this Saturday from 5.30 onwards.
Joe McDonagh Cup round 5 (all games throw-in at 5.30)
Kildare v Down, Hawkfield
Carlow v Offaly, Netwatch Cullen Park
Kerry v Laois, Austin Stack Park
Does Seán Finn’s injury prohibit the chance of putting Kyle Hayes back into the forward line?
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