Its a busy day of GAA Football Qualifers and Sean Cremin goes through what he thinks will be the outcomes. We have live commentary on all Saturdays GAA matches.
Donegal v Laois
Although the record for provincial losers facing a six day turnaround is relatively poor, one must fancy Donegal to bounce back against Laois. Since the qualifiers were introduced, only two counties have won in the qualifiers having lost the provincial final the previous weekend. Donegal were ‘out Donegal’d’ by Monaghan and I think it was the setback they need to kick-start their season.
Donegal have played at such intensity that they were always going to be matched at some stage and they will be very happy that it was in the Ulster final, and not an All-Ireland series game, that they were caught. A defeat will hurt them and their focus and motivation will be even higher now to retain their title. Injuries have also been a problem. Their squad is limited and have been pushed to the limit this season but they may start to get players back over the next few weeks.
Laois had a terrible start but yet again they have gone on a run in the qualifiers and now find themselves one game away from an All-Ireland quarter-final. They have won tight games but against opposition of a much lower standard then Donegal. I fully expect a statement of intent from Donegal today. Players like Michael Murphy and Paddy McBrearty will be eager to get on the score sheet and players like Neil Gallagher and Karl Lacey will look to get another championship game under their belt to regain fitness.
Cavan v London
This is more new ground for London. They were out of their depth in reality against Mayo but at the same time it was good for the game to see a novel pairing in another provincial final this year. They competed well in certain regards but their ability to hold onto possession cost them dearly. Turnovers and a lack of cohesion up front meant scores were simply too hard to come by.
Cavan have had a very good season so far. Looking at the Ulster final, their defeat to Monaghan was by no means an embarrassment and they had a great win against Derry after extra time in their last encounter. They are a good footballing team; very organised, disciplined and they have scoring power. I fully expect them to beat London and they are a team that provincial winners will not look forward to playing.
Cork v Galway
This is an interesting game. Traditionally they are strong counties and in recent seasons Cork have had a much better side. Galway have been poor in the last few years but they have won two under-21 titles in recent years, beating Cork along the way in both campaigns and as a result I can’t imagine that they will fear Cork in this game.
Galway had an embarrassing loss to Mayo and they struggled to beat Tipperary and Waterford. They were impressive against Armagh last week but it’s still very hard to gauge exactly where they are. Cork are a team with a point to prove and it’s very hard to see what their game plan is. They have mixed power and physicality, blanket defences and direct play and they don’t seem to know which one suits them best.
They were awful in the first-half against Kerry and changes have taken place. The general opinion is that Cork will win and it’s hard to look past those thoughts. The only chance I give Galway is based on the upper hand they have held over Cork at under-21 level. It may count for something or it may not, we will have to see.
Meath v Tyrone
This is the tie of the round that I am really looking forward to. Last weekend Tyrone were poor against Kildare in what was a terrible game of football. Two Division One teams put on an awful display. The skill levels were truly atrocious, the ball handling was also very poor and in the end it was the team that made the lesser amount of mistakes won the game. The soft goal conceded by a lazy Kildare defence was the difference but it won’t matter to Tyrone how they won the game. They have a chance to make a quarter-final and they face tough opposition.
Meath were impressive in the Leinster final. They led Dublin at half-time and it was their failure to put scores on the board that cost them in the end. They have a strong midfield, an intense defence and decent forwards. They need to ensure they have a better balance of scores for the whole game if they are to win. I fancy Meath here at 5/2 with Boylesports.com . I think they are mentally strong and unless Tyrone have a 50% improvement on the Kildare game, I think they will struggle.