Saturday’s All-Ireland Football Quarter-Finals – Sean Cremin gives us his predictions on the days two fixtures, will it be victory for Monagahan & Dublin?
Monaghan v Tyrone
This is an interesting game. This all Ulster clash may look to be the least attractive to neutrals but in certain ways I think it is one of the most difficult ones to call. Tyrone surprised me by beating Meath last weekend. Their performances have been poor in the championship so far but they still remain in a quarter-final and they will have no fear of Monaghan.
The reliance on Sean Cavanagh is a worry. Their defensive system seems to be quite good but they are yet to play at the same intensity that we saw in the league. They are the only team to beat Dublin this season and very nearly beat them again in the National League final but the championship has been a different story. Has Micky Harte been trying to get his side to peak at the correct time? I wrote them off after their performance against Kildare but they could yet find themselves in the last four of the championship.
On the other hand Monaghan have provided the performance and the shock of the championship so far by beat Donegal in the Ulster final. Very few, if any, gave them a chance of winning but they defied the odds. The brought a plan and an intensity to that game that Donegal could not cope with. They attacked them early and in the end they gave Donegal too much work to do. The question now is whether they can recreate that intensity again. Did they reach their pinnacle by winning in Ulster or are they determined to push on?
It’s a hard one to call. Having watched both sides in the championship this season I think Monaghan have definitely performed a lot better. Tyrone have been very poor in the championship and I think on form Monaghan should be favoured. Out of the eight teams remaining, Monaghan have beaten two of them already in the championship. In a way it’s new territory for them but if they are right mentally and create a similar performance to that of the one against Donegal I would fancy them to win. Saying that Tyrone, and particularly Micky Harte, have a lot of experience at this stage of the year and it could stand to them.
Dublin v Cork
I find it very hard to see past a Dublin win here. As a Cork man I must say I would be shocked if they can pull of a win here. Dublin have obviously been the best team in the country so far in 2013 while Cork appear to be making backwards strides as their lack of imagination and one dimensional style seems to be past its sell by date. It’s a heavyweight clash and neither side will fear each other. Cork have had two poor outings against Kerry and Galway and they will need a huge improvement for the game with the Dubs.
Dublin have been brilliant this season and their dogfight against Meath in the Leinster final was the type of game they needed. They got a very good challenge from Meath that day, they had to come from behind to win and it was a welcome break from the big margins of victory that they had against other teams in Leinster. Their attacking play has been a joy to watch, the defensive system has been thrown away and the open football is great viewing. The only question about Dublin is how they will cope when they face a more physical and organised defensive system.
It’s hard to know what type of game Cork will adopt. They used the blanket defence at stages during the league but their game plan has been non-existent in the championship so far. They haven’t had a plan, they have looked clueless at times. A closer look at the team makes me less and less convinced about the team. Conor Counihan continues to persist with the likes of Graham Canty, Paudie Kissane and Alan O’Connor who are a long way short of the modern day standard. I just can’t see where a Cork win can come from. Saying that, Cork will believe in themselves. I think Dublin will fear Cork more than Cork will fear Dublin but I think the difference in quality will be too much.
A closer look at match-up’s just seems to favour the Dubs more and more. Graham Canty on Ciarán Kilkenny, an unfit looking Eoin Cadogan marking either Bernard Brogan or Paul Mannion, James Loughrey picking up Paul Flynn; these are just a few examples. The Dublin half-back line is so much more dynamic than the Cork half-forward line. Midfield is another worry, for a long time I have felt Aidan Walsh is overrated and I can’t understand how Alan O’Connor can be classified as an intercounty footballer. The more I look at it, I think Dublin will win, but how Cork-like would it be to show up and overpower a team. It will be interesting but I would be very very surprised if Dublin don’t win this.