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Kevin Cassidy

Kevin Cassidy: Sit back and enjoy the show

WE are coming towards the business end of the season now with the two remaining provincial finals taking place this weekend.

Last weekend Mayo and Kerry emphatically claimed their places in the All-Ireland semi-finals with comfortable wins over there near rivals. Although the Cork versus Kerry game was tight enough at half time, you could sense it was only a matter of time before the Kerry forwards slipped into their rhythm and put Cork to the sword.

Some of the forward play was scintillating and when you considered David Clifford only scored one point – and that was from a free – then it’s clear to see just how much attacking talent they possess. Cork were poor, make no mistake about that, but Kerry were ruthless and the game was over just after half time.

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The big question mark for me about this Kerry team is whether or not they have what it takes in defence to win the All-Ireland. We can talk all day about the calibre of forwards in their ranks but for me the real challenge lies ahead now when their defenders will have to manly defend and we will see if they are up to that challenge.

Mayo won another Connacht title at a canter as they overcame Galway. Galway did well in the first half but yet again they totally collapsed in the second half and I’m sure Pádraic Joyce and his selectors will be scratching their heads this week.

Full credit to Mayo as they never go away and they have that never say die attitude. In the end they just had way too much for this Galway team.

This weekend should see this phenomenal Dublin machine claim yet another Leinster title but there are question marks starting to rise about whether or not they are at the levels that we have seen in the past.

I don’t think that challenge will come on Sunday but it is definitely coming down the tracks so it will be interesting to see how Dessie Farrell’s men shape up this weekend as the stakes start to rise.

Any other team in the country who would have lost the likes of Paul Flynn, Bernard Brogan, Michael Darragh MacAuley, Cian O ‘Sullivan, Paul Mannion etc, would surely need years to rebuild but Dublin have the ground work done and there is a continuous conveyor belt of talent coming to replace these guys. That is an unbelievable thing to have in place.

Here in Ulster things will be a little less straightforward this weekend as this year’s Ulster final could really go either way. Going on what we have seen to date from the league and championship games, Monaghan would be slight favourites based on how they are playing.

I attended the National League game between Donegal and Monaghan a number of months back and even at that point I was very impressed with Monaghan’s forward play. They cut the Donegal defence open on numerous occasions and could have scored at least eight goals.

They have carried that forward threat all the way through this season and against Armagh in the last round they were seriously effective and that area. Much like Kerry, a lot will depend on how they can defend once they are up against a formidable attack and that is exactly what Tyrone might come with this weekend.

Tyrone are building steadily, and like I said last weekend, if they can get Cathal McShane. Conor McKenna and Darragh Canavan on the pitch at once then it would take a serious defensive unit to hold that trio.

In their semi-final win over Donegal, I was impressed with their set up and how they got their match-ups spot on. They have quality all over the field and with the likes of McNamee and Hampsey in defence they are solid in that area too.

Regardless of the result at the weekend, it has been an impressive start by Feargal Logan and Brian Dooher to their reign as Tyrone bosses. Now that they are in the final, and knowing the type of men they are, they will not be content unless they win the title and get the opportunity to test themselves in the All-Ireland series.

I have been going over and back all week in my head in terms of who I think will win and at this point in time I figure it all boils down on whether or not Monaghan can get a goal or two. If Tyrone succeed in keeping the goals out then I seriously fancy their chances of landing that Ulster title but should they leak an early goal that could spell trouble.

For us neutrals watching on TV, it’s great to be looking forward to such a keenly contested Ulster final and all we can do is sit back and enjoy the action.

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