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Calling the shots

By Declan Bogue

ALL IRELAND QUARTER FINALS GROUP 2

TYRONE v ROSCOMMON

(Saturday, Croke Park, 5pm)

ONE thing about Portlaoise, last Saturday; Roscommon and Armagh served up a classic, with the Connacht side just finding that little bit more class and ways in which to score.

The game itself was possibly the best for a spectator point of view in years. And after all that sugary goodness, came the ultimate palate cleanser.

Tyrone faced a Cork side that had been battered to the tune of 17 points by Kerry in the Munster final and were feeling very delicate about themselves. After some initial resistance, the Red Hands set about them with their counter-attack game and annihilated them, falling one point short of the gap Kerry put up.

Watching on would have been a sobering experience for Roscommon. They have talent throughout the team and in Cathal Cregg an inventive playmaker.

However, Armagh showed up plenty of weak spots in the defence, especially when they went long early to Andrew Murnin and Mark Shields. There is no guarantee that Tyrone could manage this, but given that they are persisting with the Richie Donnelly at full forward experiment, to ever greater rewards, it might be a play worth trying in Croke Park.

Tyrone have too much craft to pass up on the first two points on offer in the Super 8s.

VERDICT: Tyrone

ALL IRELAND QUARTER FINALS GROUP 2

DONEGAL v DUBLIN

(Saturday, Croke Park, 7pm)

So after all the debate and rows, Donegal find themselves heading for Dressing Room 2 (Dublin always reserve Dressing Room 1 for themselves in Croke Park — one of their hundred critical non-essentials they enjoy in their rented accommodation) and into the Lion’s Den to face the Big Beasts.

Already, this All-Ireland has the look of one that needs an asterisk beside it, such is the clear advantage afforded to Dublin. 

VERDICT: Dublin

ALL IRELAND QUARTER FINALS GROUP 1

MONAGHAN v KILDARE

(Sunday, Croke Park, 2pm)

After their Ulster semi-final defeat, Monaghan were allowed to build momentum by facing a series of Patsies in the back door.

Here, they face the side with possibly the most forward momentum in the country after their wins over the GAA, Mayo and Fermanagh respectively.

Malachy O’Rourke will have had this stage of the competition in mind earlier this year, and they will be primed to peak at this stage.

VERDICT: Monaghan

ALL IRELAND QUARTER FINALS GROUP 2

KERRY v GALWAY

(Sunday, Croke Park, 4pm)

Talking of teams that have faced little in the way of competition, this game marks the start of Kerry’s Championship season proper.

There are certain questions to be asked of Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s men. As good as they looked in the Munster Championship, this is the first competitive game they will have faced.

How they manage life when faced with a massed defence and an organised counter-attack game will hold the most interest, especially for the young turks throughout the line-up.

This is where Kerry may fall down; a lack of real experience.

VERDICT: Galway

ALL IRELAND UNDER 20 SEMI FINAL

DERRY v MAYO

(Saturday, Carrick-on-Shannon, 4pm)

Perhaps this season has come a year early for Derry.

Ulster minor champions last year, they were only meant to be building towards a big year in 2019, but under the management of Mickey Donnelly, they toppled provincial favourites Donegal in Healy Park, overcame an enormous Down lead to snatch away the semi-final, and did just about enough to get by Armagh in the Ulster final.

Make no mistake about it, they are over-achieving right now, and with 90% of this team underage for next season, have a better future ahead of themselves.

Mayo had very little challenge in Connacht, brushing past Leitrim and Roscommon with facile wins, Ross Egan emerging as their chief marksmen.

Perhaps the tougher path will suit Derry.

VERDICT: Derry

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