AS expected, last weekend‘s games sprung this year‘s championship into life and now it sets us up for a couple of cracking contests this week.
When working out the permutations of who could possibly meet each other and who might top the groups, I don’t think that any of us would have predicted last weekend’s results. A few teams stepped up to the plate and gave themselves a wonderful opportunity of progressing even further in this year’s championship.
Although last weekend was exciting and a lot of people are raving about it, I still think the system needs tweaking for next season because last weekend was the first time that we felt any sort of championship bite. So, for me, that’s not feasible moving forward.
Now that the group stages are over, the real action can begin and what a way to start things off. I have no doubt that the players of Donegal and Tyrone and Mayo and Galway would have loved to face anyone else. But, for the neutrals and for our game as a whole, I think that these two games will be unreal this weekend.
For the first time this season, the safety blanket is gone, There are no more second chances, so, for all teams everything is on the line and this is normally when we see our game at its very best.
If we start with the Mayo and Galway game. At the very start of the season, both of these teams would have been in the conversation about eventual winners. The fact that one of them will fall from the race this weekend just adds to the game.
These two teams know each other inside out so I don’t think that it’s going to come down to tactics or setups this weekend. It will just come down to who turns up better on the day because these two teams are so evenly matched it’s very hard to call.
If you are going on recent results and performances, then you would say that Galway are probably playing a little bit better but with Mayo you can just never write them off because that’s when they are at their most dangerous.
It may come back to bite me, like in the past, but I just can’t see Mayo winning this weekend, especially when the game is in Pearse Stadium. I said at the very start of the year that I felt Galway were building something special and I just think that their panel is too strong to go out at the stage of the competition. Galway by three.
The other big game of the weekend involves my own county Donegal and fierce rivals Tyrone as they face off in Ballybofey on Saturday evening.
These two teams crossed paths so often over the last number of years and I don’t think any sets of players would have been particularly happy after the draw was made. To say that these guys know each other inside out would be an understatement, so again much like Mayo and Galway this game could really go either way.
With the teams knowing each other inside out and having played against each other on so many occasions I don’t think that any of the management teams will come up with a tactical master plan that will see them over the line.
I think it will come down to a war of attrition, and who was it most on the day. For me, if I was involved in the Donegal management, I would be focusing on how to tie down the Canavan brothers. For me, at the minute, these two guys are the ones carrying the torch for Tyrone so if Donegal can keep those lads out of the game, then they have a great chance.
From a Donegal point of view, we have been building nicely over the last number of weeks. We pulled off a massive win against Monaghan but I still don’t think that we have seen their big game yet. There is definitely one of those in us, so from the Donegal point of you would hope that that comes out this Saturday evening.
Like I said earlier, this game could really go either way but with home advantage and given the upward trajectory that we have been on the last few weeks I’m hoping for a Donegal win so I’ll go for Donegal by two.
In the other two games, I think that home advantage will play a massive part for Kildare and I can see them getting past Monaghan but I feel that Roscommon may have too much power and pace for this Cork team so I’ll go for Kildare and Roscommon.