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Joe Kernan: The four provincial champions in 2010 will be...

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Kieran McGeeney

Kieran McGeeney

Kieran McGeeney

It is never a good idea to put your head above the parapet particularly when it comes to making predictions in a GAA context.

Yet fence-sitting has never quite been my game. I would prefer to stick my neck out and make a call rather than be accused of shirking an issue.

That’s why I am prepared to gaze into my crystal ball and name the teams which I believe will emerge triumphant in the four senior provincial football championships.

ULSTER: Tyrone

While Red Hands boss Mickey Harte was bitterly disappointed to see his side lose to Cork in the All Ireland semi-final last year, he had the consolation of winning the Ulster crown.

Tyrone may have gained their share of provincial successes in the last decade but Mickey made the point that the title still carries considerable currency simply because the Red Hands have known many lean years in the past.

I believe that they now have the capacity to retain the Ulster title if they can avoid injuries and if the new faces that are about to be dropped in deliver on their talent. Tyrone have adequate resources on the bench and when Sean Cavanagh, Brian Dooher, Philip Jordan, Owen Mulligan, Ryan Mellon and Colm Cavanagh return to the fray, they will have that most vital of all assets — experience.

LEINSTER: Kildare

I know Kieran McGeeney was devastated when the Lily Whites lost to Dublin in last year’s Leinster final but I believe that this defeat could in fact prove the catalyst for a title surge this year.

Kildare have some exceptional players and if their defensive mechanism is tighter then I believe they will arrest Dublin’s dominance. Mind you, Meath will be worth keeping an eye on.

MUNSTER: Cork

Cork are reigning Munster champions and the chances are that they will retain their title.

Will Kerry be sulking if this happens? Not a chance. The Kingdom know that all that really matters in the GAA calendar is what happens on the third Sunday in September in Croke Park. Yes, Cork will win the battle but don’t bet against Kerry winning the war

CONNACHT: Galway

No, I’m not seeing life through rose-tinted glasses — anything but. I would be disingenuous if I did not make it clear that there is sufficient talent in Galway with the ability to win the provincial crown. Whether it can actually be delivered is another matter. Mayo are the reigning champions, Sligo will believe they are in with a big shout and Mickey Moran and John Morrison will justifiably feel they can take Leitrim the extra mile this time round. Yet at full strength, I feel Galway will have the experience, craft and finishing power to go all the way — at least, in a provincial context.

Belfast Telegraph