Tyrone and Donegal still eye Super finish in hectic race to title
The theory that the Round 3 games in the All-Ireland Championship Super 8s might throw up an unwanted menu of dead-rubber ties has been dramatically dispelled, particularly in relation to Group 1.
While Tyrone and Dublin have as expected already journeyed into the semi-finals via Group 2, it's a question now of perming any two from Kerry, Donegal and Meath to see just who makes it into the penultimate stage of the race to 'Sam' from Group 1.
When Tyrone and Dublin meet at Healy Park, Omagh on Sunday week, it will be to decide who finishes top of Group 2. The Group 2 winners will meet the Group 1 runners-up in one of the semi-finals with the Group 1 winners taking on the Group 2 runners-up.
Thus Tyrone or Dublin could be opposing Kerry, Donegal or Mayo in the last four - at this juncture, it's a case of pay your money and take your choice.
Dublin's effortless 2-26 to 0-14 win over Roscommon at the weekend provided further evidence that they tend to inhabit a different planet, while Mayo's 2-17 to 0-13 victory over Meath yesterday again underlined their time-worn penchant for doing things the hard way.
While Dublin had Roscommon tamed by half-time with Dean Rock going on to score 1-11 and manager Jim Gavin emptying his bench in carefree fashion, Mayo only managed to free themselves from Meath's tentacles in the closing stages of their game when goals from Kevin McLoughlin and Cillian O'Connor (penalty) put rather more daylight between the sides at the end (2-17 to 0-14).
As is their wont, Mayo are staying the course because of their traditional stubbornness and now find themselves hosting what is viewed as a particularly alluring tie when they host Donegal on Sunday week.
Michael Murphy and Ryan McHugh in particular stood tall for Donegal in their thrilling draw with Kerry yesterday but manager Declan Bonner could be missing key players for the Mayo game.
Kerry, for their part, should make it a third successive defeat for Meath and secure their place in the last four.
Meanwhile, Down will meet Kerry in the All-Ireland U20 'B' Hurling Championship final at Semple Stadium, Thurles on Saturday week.
Down secured their place in the decider by beating Derry by 2-17 to 0-22 in Saturday's semi-final at Owenbeg where goals from Conor McCrickard and Ronan Costello proved decisive.
Team manager Ronan Sheehan said afterwards that Down now have an opportunity to show Ulster hurling "in a good light" particularly as there is currently a strong focus on the under-age sector.
Tyrone created an upset when they beat Ulster champions Donegal by 3-12 to 3-9 in their All-Ireland Ladies' Football Championship group stage game with Chloe McCaffrey, Maeve Mallon and Niamh Hughes hitting the winners' goals while Geraldine McLaughlin bagged 2-5 for Donegal.
In the All-Ireland camogie series, Cork beat an under-strength Antrim side by 3-18 to 0-10, Derry drew with Down (4-6 to 0-18) and Armagh lost to Clare by 2-16 to 1-11.