Kevin Cassidy

KEVIN CASSIDY: It’s Croker time

BEFORE we get stuck into this weekend’s blockbusters in the race for Sam, let’s touch on last weekend’s games.

Last week I predicted that Derry, Cork, Tyrone and Galway would win their respective games.

I will get to the Derby victory later but the one that surprised me the most was the Roscommon win.

I thought that week by week Tyrone were showing slight signs of improvement and I expected them to take full advantage of their home game.

Their poor first half performance left them with too much to do. Although they did perform better in the second half, they just couldn’t get the scores to edge them in front.

It’s a disappointing year for the Red hand County, but with the young talent coming through from their underage teams you get the feeling it won’t be that long before they are back again.

I fancied Derry to turn up last weekend after a disastrous start to their campaign and they did just that.

They were fully deserving of their win and if it wasn’t for a few questionable calls they could have had the game won before it reached the penalty shootout.

They looked more like themselves last weekend and they’re reward now is a clash with the Kingdom. Although many will have Kerry as favourites, that win last weekend would have done wonders for the belief and morale inside the Derry camp.

They have a big task ahead of them, but perhaps it’s one that they need, given how they have struggled to deal with the favourites’ tag all year.

Donegal got the draw that they wanted and, without being disrespectful to Louth, you would fully expect them to be in the last four.

Louth have done fantastically well over the last few years and Ger Brennan deserves a lot of praise, but you feel Donegal’s big game experience will prove too much for them.

Armagh will also fancy their chances of progression although Roscommon have some serious fire power if they all hit from on the day.

This is the best chance Armagh will get of reaching the later stages of the competition so I fully expect them to grab this opportunity with both hands.

The final game will see the Dubs clash with Galway. If Galway have a full hand to play with, if all of their key men were injury free then this would be a massive test for Dublin.

That said, given how Galway’s season has gone, with key personnel missing a lot of the year then it’s hard to see how they can match Dublin for a full 75 minutes.

It’s prediction time. This week I’ll go for Donegal, Dublin, Kerry and Armagh to come through and stay in the race for the biggest prize of all.

Before I sign off, I want to pay my respects to an old friend – Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh (inset).

Ever since I started playing with Donegal, we got on so well and after every big game he would make it his duty to have a word. He loved Gaoth Dobhair and always had time for the Gaoth Dobhair lads.

I got the opportunity to get to know him and his family over the years. Later in life, I got to watch him in action up close and personal in the commentary box.

The best there was and the best there ever will be. Laoch agus Gael ar lár, go ndéana Dia trócaire air.

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