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Calling the shots

Declan Bogue

By Declan Bogue

ALL IRELAND ROUND FOUR QUALIFIERS

CAVAN v TYRONE (Tonight, Clones, 5.00pm)

A number of years ago, 2012 to be exact, the scheduling of round four games were altered.

Prior to that, they took place seven and sometimes six days after a team was beaten in the Ulster Championship and the record books were not healthy - the team beaten in their provincial decider were usually beaten in their next game.

However, given the 13 days Cavan have had since Donegal beat them in the Ulster final, there is a sense that they will have buried their disappointment and will relish taking on another Ulster side in Clones.

Tyrone's record of getting to the All-Ireland quarter-final series is daunting, but that is no guarantee they will make it this time round.

They are never more dangerous than when they have others writing them off. To that end, Tyrone manager Mickey Harte might have been privately delighted to see his old attacker Owen Mulligan saying that they were on the verge of going out last week before blitzing Kildare.

However, this should be borne in mind - so far in the Championship, Tyrone have beaten two sides who played their league football in Division Four, one in Division Three, and Kildare who won three games out of seven in Division Two.

They were well beaten by Donegal who were in Division Two this year, and they will not be entirely trusting their gameplan after abandoning it after the Ulster semi-final.

If they weren't really vulnerable against Kildare, they are here. Still, you couldn't bet against them.

VERDICT: Tyrone

CORK v LAOIS (Tonight, Thurles, 5.00pm)

It was one of those statistics that creep up and shock - Cork have not been in the last eight of an All-Ireland race since 2014. Given their underage talent at the turn of the decade, that shows how poor a job things were while the eye was taken off the ball with capital projects and defections to the county hurlers.

Laois have progressed impressively under John Sugrue. He is an impressive coach, and when you think of how they won promotion from Division Four last year and backed that up with another promotion, then they are on the right path.

Shock of the weekend here.

VERDICT: Laois

GALWAY v MAYO (Tonight, Limerick, 7.00pm)

A moment of truth for both teams, and how fitting that they should decide each other's fate.

While Galway have been superior in their head to head clashes over the last few years, Mayo under James Horan had a proud record against their oldest rivals. With so many players creeping into their mid-30s, it could be the final fling some get at ever winning an All-Ireland.

Horan has shown signs of utter ruthlessness, such as taking Andy Moran off early last week against Armagh. It's going to take all of that courage to get something here. But they should.

VERDICT: Mayo

CLARE v MEATH (Tomorrow, Portlaoise, 2.00pm)

On the one hand, Meath have the superiority over Clare given they have managed to beat them in each of the last three league meetings over the last three years.

What will worry Royals boss Andy McEntee, however, is how teams fare when they have been given an almighty beating by Dublin in a Leinster final. Few recover enough to get to the quarter-finals, while Clare are brimming with confidence.

VERDICT: Clare

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