Home Sport GAA A preview of all tonight’s SFC and IFC action

A preview of all tonight’s SFC and IFC action

Portlaoise midfielder Paddy Downey in action in the Laois IFC quarter-final replay against The Rock
Portlaoise midfielder Paddy Downey in action in the Laois IFC quarter-final replay against The Rock

After the excitement of last night’s JFC semi-finals, there are three more games down for decision tonight with huge significance attached to all of them.

There is one SFC quarter final, the SFC relegation final and one IFC semi final.

In the final that nobody wants to be in, Arles-Kilcruise will take on Mountmellick Gaels in the relegation decider in Stradbally at 7.30pm.

At the same time, in McCann Park Portarlington, Rosenallis are squaring up against Portlaoise’s second team in the IFC semi final.

While the first SFC quarter final of the weekend sees Graiguecullen clash with St Joseph’s in O’Moore Park at 7.45pm.

We’ll be live blogging all three games to keep you up with the action but first, we will take a look at each game in depth.

SFC QF – Graiguecullen v St Joseph’s

Graiguecullen begin this game as the most likely challengers to Portlaoise and if they win, that idea will be reinforced.

Pádraig Clancy’s men were efficient if not spectacular in their opening two wins over Killeshin and The Heath which saw them into the quarter finals.

St Joseph’s took the scenic route to get here. They beat Clonaslee Gaels in Round 1 but then lost to Ballylinan in Round 2.

But they got Michael Keogh, Danny Hickey and Adam Campion back from America for their Round 3 clash with Ballyfin Gaels and won well.

Both sides are really defensive which means that while the game will probably be tight, it won’t be the greatest game to watch.

However, St Joseph’s have had three weeks now with their returning players and if they can get back to the type of performances they put in during the league, maybe they can spring a surprise.

Odds: Graiguecullen 8/13, Draw 7/1, St Joseph’s 13/8
Verdict: St Joseph’s

SFC Relegation Final – Arles-Kilcruise v Mountmellick Gaels

It’s the final that nobody wants to be in.

This evening in Stradbally, Mountmellick Gaels and Arles-Kilcruise clash in the Laois SFC relegation decider, a game that will see the loser drop out of the senior championship and into the intermediate ranks for 2018.

For Arles-Kilcruise it could spell an end to their 17-year stay in the grade, one that peaked in 2003 with their memorable triumph in the final.

Mountmellick have been senior since winning the intermediate in 2006, and they followed that up with semi-final appearances in 2007 and 2008 and a handful of quarter-final outings since.

The big news coming out of the camps is that since their relegation semi-final defeats, they have both parted company with their managers.

Former goalkeeper Donie O’Mahony finished up in the Mountmellick role after his side were beaten by Clonaslee-St Manman’s Gaels while Ballyroan man John Irwin’s time in charge of Arles-Kilcruise finished after they lost to Stradbally.

Mountmellick have gone for a management team of Alan George, Brian Dempsey and Shane Conlon.

Kilcruise have got a few former players in charge tonight.

Relegation finals have tended to be close over the years and this one will surely be the same. However, perhaps Kilcruise’s experience will see them through.

Odds: Mountmellick Gaels 11/4, Draw 15/2, Arles-Kilcruise 1/3 

IFC Semi Final – Rosenallis v Portlaoise

This sees last year’s defeated semi-finalists against the reigning junior champions.

Rosenallis have simply defied all the odds this year.

They stunned a fancied Timahoe side in Round 1 and then followed that up by beating Courtwood in a high scoring affair.

They haven’t kicked a ball competitively though in over five weeks and that is a concern.

Portlaoise beat Barrowhouse in Round 1 but then lost to Emo in Round 2.

They then needed a replay to edge out The Rock by a solitary point to reach the semis.

Portlaoise are good but so too are Rosenallis. And with their focus solely on football now after being eliminated from the hurling last week, perhaps they can reach the final.

Verdict: Rosenallis

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.