Calling the shots
ALL-IRELAND FOOTBALL SEMI-FINAL
TYRONE v MONAGHAN
(Tomorrow, Croke Park, 3.30pm)
Well now, here it is.
How do you take Monaghan’s irresistible momentum, built up through a number of facile qualifier wins and sharpened by a tough win over Kildare, letting Kerry off the hook at the closing moments in Clones and with everything corrected in time to achieve a fabulous win over Galway in Salthill.
And then put it up against Tyrone, the team that looked to be heading nowhere after defeat to Monaghan in Ulster and who were mere seconds away from Championship exit on a scalding Navan afternoon when Cathal McShane rescued them in normal time and Harry Loughran in extra time with a goal, to the team that trampled all over Ulster champions Donegal in Ballybofey last weekend?
You could spend 3,000 words making a strong case for either team and how they are going to win this. The truth is that it will come down to human error when the pressure is really on.
And in that respect, Tyrone have shown in recent weeks against Dublin and Donegal that they have the ability to turn up the heat.
Monaghan, however, wilted badly against Fermanagh and Kerry. You cannot tell me that will not play on their minds here in the closing stages.
ALL-IRELAND FOOTBALL SEMI-FINAL
DUBLIN v GALWAY
(Today, Croke Park, 5.00pm)
It has been said that the manner in which Galway were beaten against Monaghan would count against them in terms of confidence and adherence to the gameplan.
But how difficult it was to motivate a team that were already through to an All-Ireland semi-final cannot be discounted.
Galway will be organised and highly-motivated but it has been said that they lack the kind of game to truly put Dublin on the back foot, a scenario we have not seen much at all this season.
Betting against Dublin right now would be folly. With Bernard Brogan back in the matchday squad they look far better equipped all of a sudden.
However, at times in Omagh against Tyrone they looked vulnerable against a side willing to stand toe to toe. Galway might find it difficult to change tack for this.
ALL-IRELAND MINOR FOOTBALL SEMI-FINAL
MONAGHAN v KERRY
(Tomorrow, Croke Park, 1.30pm)
AFTER he left Wexford at the end of last season, we might have thought that we had seen the back of the colourful Seamus ‘Banty’ McEnaney, who did so much to drag up Monaghan from obscurity in the middle of the last decade and laid the foundations for the present success enjoyed by the senior team.
But here he is again with a crack minor outfit who got the better of Kildare in the All-Ireland quarter-final. That came after wins over Derry, Antrim, Donegal, Down, Cavan and Derry again in the Ulster final.
Because of the format of the Ulster competition they have played seven games to date.
With Martin McElkennon in the backroom team, they have known how to peak for games.
Opponents Kerry have become the benchmark for football at underage level with the development squads requiring more commitment from players than most in Ulster would realise.
Kerry are managed by Peter Keane, many people’s tip for the next senior manager. Given their, and his, track record, you couldn’t go against them.