The 2012 O’Byrne Cup reaches the semi final stage this weekend, with Kildare taking on old rivals Dublin, and Meath facing the students of DCU. Each of the final four have impressed to varying degrees this season and all will be keen to take the title.
At this early stage of the year form often goes out the window but it seems fair to say that the cream has risen to the top in this competition.
The holders Kildare have taken the O’Byrne Cup very seriously in recent times and will be slight favourites to overcome All Ireland champions Dublin this Sunday.
The Lilywhites have improved as the series went on and had a very easy 0-17 to 0-4 win over Offaly in the quarter final. Kieran McGeeney will have been pleased by the contribution of his forwards, as the side have often disappointed in that area in previous campaigns.
Ronan Sweeney was outstanding at midfield last weekend and the holders will be hoping for a similar performance when he comes up against the sky blues. James Kavanagh contributed four points against Offaly and will be looking to do likewise in the semi final. Dublin has been going about their business in decent fashion since returning from the winter break.
The side had an easy win over UCD at Parnell Park in the quarter final and with Bryan Cullen and Diarmuid Connolly to the fore; Pat Gilroy’s men put four goals past the student’s last time out.
Meath have plenty to prove after a horrific 2011 season but have made the best possible start to the New Year. A 0-11 to 0-5 win over Louth was achieved without too much difficulty and Seamus McEnaney will be hoping his side can overcome the students of DCU and book their place in the decider.
Graham Reilly has been the star for the Royals in the early stages of the competition and he will need to be on form again this Sunday if his side are to progress. Graham Geraghty was introduced as a late substitute against Louth and his experience may yet prove vital as the young side have plenty of tough assignments ahead of them.
DCU were perhaps a little fortunate to beat Longford in the last round, but goals win games and the students managed to find the net twice. Sean McCormack is the real danger man for the college side and he will have to be stopped if Meath are to defeat the Dublin based outfit.
In what are two difficult contests to predict, the votes go to Kildare and Meath to reach the final. Anyone fancying a wager on the semi finals would be advised to consider the handicap betting, as there is unlikely to be much between the sides in either match.