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Calling the shots

 

By Declan Bogue

ALL-IRELAND SENIOR  FOOTBALL ROUND FOUR  QUALIFIERS

ARMAGH v ROSCOMMON

(Saturday, Portlaoise, 3.00pm)

ARMAGH have been holding up Kieran McGeeney’s astonishing level of consistency in the backdoor of the Championship, and reach a stage where they are facing the bigger boys.

But their progress has to be taken into context. McGeeney’s high number of qualifier games is partly down to the fact his sides are normally in the backdoor early on. With no wins from four Ulster campaigns, it is questionable how much worth they can take from it all.

Given their tendency to struggle against teams that are organised defensively, this could be the last day out for them.

VERDICT: Roscommon

TYRONE v CORK

(Saturday, Portlaoise, 5.00pm)

It would seem that without winning games particularly impressively, Tyrone are making an effort to time their run into the quarter-final group stages, something we cannot put beyond their thinking given trainer Peter Donnelly’s eye for detail.

If wins over Meath and Cavan were struggles, they have also allowed the team to gain a hard edge while edging ever closer to the business end of the season.

With Mark Bradley now back on the bench and Lee Brennan also on the mend and expected to be back for the Super-8s, along with Tiarnan McCann being fully recovered and playing brilliant football, they can be confident.

Cork came with plenty of fire and pace to the Munster final against Kerry, but after the initial burst of scoring and the two goals, they laid down like a doormat for their more illustrious neighbours.

VERDICT: Tyrone

FERMANAGH v KILDARE

(Saturday, Navan, 7.00pm)

This present generation of Kildare footballers had never experienced anything quite like what happened last Saturday in Newbridge, but close observers noted how manager Cian O’Neill was very keen to get them back down to earth after the win.

The message was almost instantly put in their heads that it will all count for nothing if they cannot beat Fermanagh.

However, in all their Division One games this season and against Carlow, they drowned against organised defences.

VERDICT: Fermanagh

MONAGHAN v LAOIS

(Sunday, Navan, 2.00pm)

Monaghan to recover their mojo, facing their third Division Four side of the qualifiers.

The question has to be asked, has any team had a handier passage to the quarter-finals?

VERDICT: Monaghan

ALL-IRELAND HURLING QUARTER-FINALS

WESTMEATH v WEXFORD

(Saturday, Mullingar, 7.00pm)

Progress is certainly being made in Westmeath and the work of manager Michael Ryan is invaluable as he imparts just what is required at the upper end of hurling.

However, Wexford will not be caught out here.

VERDICT: Wexford

CARLOW v LIMERICK

(Saturday, Carlow, 7.00pm)

As satisfying as Carlow’s win in the Joe McDonagh Cup final was, they are coming up against a Limerick side well sharpened by the new structures in the Munster Championship.

If they are in the mood, this could turn ugly.

VERDICT: Limerick

LEINSTER HURLING FINAL REPLAY

KILKENNY v GALWAY

(Sunday, Semple Stadium, 3.00pm)

A Leinster final ,featuring a team from Connacht and played in Munster.

This in some ways is a neat encapsulation of why some people cannot understand the GAA.

The introduction of Galway into the Leinster Championship has been a roaring success. Besides providing them with regular games and benefiting from their large support, it has raised their standards to where they are now, battling Kilkenny in a game of man for man, traditional hurling won by the amount of aerial catches you can take.

Last week’s game was error-strewn and a polar opposite to the sumptuous fare on offer in the Munster final, but it certainly had its appeal in other ways. To see this replay in Thurles will only add to the storied history of hurling.

VERDICT: Galway

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