THE pairings and details for next weekend’s All-Ireland quarter-finals have been announced, with the draw throwing up some intriguing encounters.
Croke Park will play host to two exciting double-headers, as eight teams battle to ensure their progression to the semi-finals.
First up on Saturday sees the clash between Mayo and Down at 5pm, followed by Dublin and Laois at 7pm. The winners of these games will play each other, with the Dubs hot favourites to reach their second consecutive All-Ireland final.
Sunday sees another fantastic day of football, with Cork and Kildare doing battle at 2pm, with Donegal taking on Kerry at 4pm. Again, the winners of each game will be pitted against each other in a bid to take one step closer to bringing Sam Maguire home.
It is fair to say that the latter games are certainly the more difficult side of the draw, with all four teams tipped to reach the final by many GAA pundits in recent times.
Kildare boss Kieran McGeeney admits that the week ahead is “mammoth” for his side, as he reflected on what was a superb win over Sligo on Sunday in the qualifiers.
“There is a huge expectation in Kildare,” the former Armagh footballer admitted to the Irish Independent in the aftermath of Sunday’s victory, “even though their history doesn’t portray that, in terms of what people say they should win.”
“The boys put their heads down and work. It’s a hard slog to keep coming back year after year. There are only a couple of teams fit to do it. You’re just hoping that there is enough on the tank against the best team around,” McGeeney added.
With players such as John Doyle and Tomas Connor producing inspiring performances last weekend, Kildare should feel confident ahead of next Sunday’s huge fixture with a strong Cork side.
“We’re up against it but that’s why you compete,” the Kildare manager finished. “Every time you step out on the pitch, you’re trying to prove yourself that you can compete.”