Kevin Cassidy

KEVIN CASSIDY: Which Shane will it be?

IT’S showtime this weekend as the four remaining teams do battle to earn their place in this year’s football decider.

When you look at the pairings on paper it makes for two fantastic games where both teams are so evenly matched.

In one semi-final you have two teams who most people would have tipped at the beginning of the year to be at this stage of the competition and then in the other semi-final you have two teams who most would have tipped to have massive potential to do something special so it makes for two intriguing contests.


The four teams remaining in the competition have won the respective provinces so they are the in-form teams at the stage of the competition.

The Derry-Galway game is so evenly matched so it will be really difficult to call the winner with both teams coming from similar positions in terms of their development over the last number of years.

Galway are starting to find their rhythm under Padraic Joyce after a rocky enough start to his managerial tenure.

When Padraic first came in he struggled to find the correct style of play for his team but after a few tweaks and time to work with his squad they now seem to have found the brand of football that suits them best.

I have seen them closely a number of times this season and they have a nice balance in that they’re well set up defensively but when in possession they are extremely dangerous in attack.

Modern day football requires a team to have this flexibility. It’s no longer feasible just to have a solid defensive structure, you must also have an expansive attacking threat to your play in order to get anywhere near the top table at the minute.

Galway have managed to do just that and when you look at the individual talent within their squad it’s easy to see how they have managed to get to this stage of the competition.

Damien Comer and Shane Walsh are two of the most electrifying talents out there at the minute and every time one of these players gets the ball it excites me as they are capable of doing magical things.

No matter how good or well structured a team is, you need one or two of those types of players that are capable of turning a game on its head when you need them most.

Galway they certainly have two of those players.

This game is so evenly matched because when you look at Derry and where they have come from and the types of players within that squad they are so similar to the Galway set up.

I watched Derry closely since Rory has taken over and bit-by-bit you could see the change in mentality happening. I spoke here on numerous occasions about the way Rory Gallagher approaches football and in all honesty it could have gone either way for him and Derry.

Derry’s struggles at county level have been there for all to see over the last number of years with managers coming and going and players opting in and out of the panel and perhaps focusing more on club commitments.

Naturally, when I heard Rory was going there I was intrigued to see how things would pan out.

Rory‘s approach is full-blown 100 mph with everyone totally committed to the cause and he doesn’t’t suffer fools lightly. It was interesting to see how this was going to pan out in terms of the Derry players buying into what he wanted to do and also more importantly whether the clubs and county board would back his ideas.

Rory can be a fiery character but it’s for the right reasons. If something was for the better of the team and Rory felt that he wasn’t getting the backing from the powers-that-be then he would have absolutely no problem in telling them exactly what he thought.

Everyone in Derry deserves great credit because it’s clear that they have all pulled together on this project.

I saw a comment somewhere last week and it couldn’t have summed the man up any better. Some reporter made the comment that Derry are in bonus territory and Rory nearly took the head clean off your shoulders.

Rory 100 percent believes in his mind that Derry are good enough to win the All-Ireland this year and you can guarantee that his players share that same mentality because it is driven at them night-after-night after night on the training pitch.

They fully understand that each game is a massive step up but make no mistake about it they are completely comfortable in their surroundings at this stage of the competition.

This may sound bizarre given the amount of talent on show and both teams and how well both teams are set up but for me I think that in the end this game will be decided on which Shane has the biggest influence on proceedings.

Both teams will have their kick out strategies nailed and both teams will have their man ~markers assigned so for me this game is going to be settled by a few moments of sheer brilliance.

In Shane Walsh and Shane McGuigan you have two of the most exciting young talents out there at the minute and this is where I see the winning of the game coming from.

I am taking my young son Fionn up to the game on Saturday evening and I have to pick up a certain Mr Brolly’s son Niall (who is down here at the Gaeltacht at the minute) so I’ll have to nail my colours to the Derry mast and go for a Derry win by three points! In the other semi-final I just think that Dublin may edge it especially if they have Con O’Callaghan and James McCarthy available to them.

Kerry have threatened this year but in certain games they have looked a little vulnerable at times and if that vulnerability raises its head on Sunday then this ruthless Dublin machine will go to town.

If Con plays Dublin win and if not Kerry win – seems simple, doesn’t it?

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