AIB Leinster Club SFC Semi-Finals
Rathnew (Wicklow) v Moorefield (Kildare) – Joule Park, Aughrim (2pm)
Rathnew grabbed the headlines last Sunday week with a sensational victory over St Vincent’s, bringing an end to the dominance of Dublin clubs in this championship.
The Wicklow kingpins will believe they are now capable of emulating the heroes of 2001 when they take on Kildare champions Moorefield at Joule Park, Aughrim.
Sixteen years ago, Rathnew defeated Na Fianna, after a replay, to capture their only provincial club SFC title.
Moorefield, too, are one of only two Kildare clubs on the Roll of Honour, with their triumph over Rhode in 2006 standing out as perhaps the most memorable occasion in their proud history.
They have already one significant away victory under their belts, edging past Portlaoise by 1-9 to 0-11 at O’Moore Park.
Niall Hurley Lynch was the match-winner with a late winning point, while Eanna O’Connor top scored with 1-5.
Rathnew’s campaign began with a 2-6 to 0-9 win over Newtown Blues of Louth, and then they were full value for their 1-13 to 1-9 defeat of St Vincent’s. Recovering from a slow start, Rathnew led by a point at the break and James Stafford scored the clinching goal late on. For former county and International Rules star Leighton Glynn, and a couple of his team-mates, there is now the opportunity to bridge a 16 year gap by playing in a second provincial final.
St Loman’s, Mullingar (Westmeath) v Simonstown Gaels (Meath) – TEG Cusack Park, Mullingar (2pm)
Three-in-a-row Westmeath winners St Loman’s take on back-to-back Meath champions Simonstown Gaels at TEG Cusack Park on Sunday. The opportunity to transfer dominance within their own county into provincial glory will be top of their agendas, spurred on by high-profile managers Luke Dempsey and Colm O’Rourke.
St Loman’s bowed out at the hands of St Columba’s, Mullinalaghta, 12 months ago but came from behind to oust the Longford champions in the quarter-finals.
Once again, John Heslin was their main scorer, hitting 1-7 of their 1-12 tally as they edged through by a point. At one stage in the second half, the Mullingar-based side trailed by six points, but with Heslin, Ken Casey and Shane Dempsey featuring in their attack, they launched a stunning recovery.
Simonstown Gaels lost out to Rhode of Offaly last season, but the experience of competing in the Leinster Club SFC for the first time ever should prove beneficial.
They enjoyed a convincing quarter-final victory over Starlights of Wexford by 1-12 to 0-8 and will now hope to become the first Meath club to reach the provincial final since Skryne in 2004.
Sean Tobin raised their green flag last time out and four points from Padraig McKeever emphasised their dominance in the second half.
This could be another exciting Westmeath v Meath duel and is expected to attract a big crowd to TEG Cusack Park.