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Wednesday 25 April 2018

Kilcormac set to reach final

AIB LEINSTER CLUB SHC SEMI-FINAL

KILCORMAC-KILLOUGHEY v OULART-THE BALLAGH (Tullamore, Tomorrow 2.30, live TG4)

THE TG4 cameras have chosen O'Connor Park as the place to be tomorrow, and you can understand why. This fixture ticks so many boxes: a rematch between one side chasing revenge/redemption and another craving a return to Croke Park, having come up short last St Patrick's Day. As for the likely outcome? Shrouded in mystery!

First up Oulart, whose regal rule over Wexford has yet to translate into Leinster coronation. Reaching finals has never been the problem; winning them has. They've lost three on the bounce (to O'Loughlin Gaels, Coolderry and Kilcormac-K) having entered the ring as the bookies' choice each time.

Tomorrow, then, should represent something of a novelty: they're a 13/8 long shot to topple the holders instead of the prohibitive 1/3 favourites they were before last year's decider.

What has changed so radically in the interim? Well, that is principally down to Kilcormac's more exalted status on foot of reaching this year's All-Ireland. K-K's form graph also suggests they've grown as a team, reflected in the seven points to spare over Birr in the county final and an impressive eight-point dismissal of Camross, last day out.

As for Oulart, when the hard questions were asked by Clara, Des Mythen, Rory Jacob and especially Garrett Sinnott (with 0-6 from play) had all the point-scoring answers. Yet even that backs-to-the-wall victory posed a few unanswered questions about the Wexford men.

Leaking two sucker-punch goals inside four second half minutes is the obvious answer. They got away with it against Clara but the Offaly champions look a less forgiving beast.

ODDS: Kilcormac-K 8/13, Draw 8/1, Oulart 13/8 VERDICT: Kilcormac-Killoughey

AIB LEINSTER CLUB SFC Q-FINAL

LONGFORD SLASHERS v PORTLAOISE

(Glennon Bros Pearse Pk, Tomorrow 2.30)

IT has been a traumatic week for the Portlaoise club following the bereavement that led to last Sunday's postponement, but now their footballers must regroup for this potential banana skin visit to Longford.

It wasn't so much the outcome but the margin (3-13 to 0-10 against Rathnew) that compels us to treat Slashers as a serious threat here.

But having claimed their seventh Laois title on the spin, Portlaoise will be driven by higher ambitions - just one Leinster title from the last six years is scant return for a team of their pedigree. The evergreen Bruno McCormack and Paul Cahillane can point Port' towards a semi-final date with Moorefield.

ODDS: Slashers 9/4, Draw 15/2, Portlaoise 4/9 VERDICT: Portlaoise

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