The All-Ireland Senior Football Championship qualifiers throw in this weekend, meaning that there are a hectic few days ahead. Here, Tomás Ó Se runs the rule over all eleven games that will be played on Saturday and Sunday.
All-Ireland SFC qualifiers
Wexford v Waterford, Innovate Wexford Park, 1.30
Wexford played out a cracker against Laois, pushing them to extra-time and they should have seen it out. Tom McGlinchey’s men lost easily at home to Tipperary. Wexford at home; I’m going for a Wexford win.
Derry v Kildare, Owenbeg, 3.0
This will be interesting because to my mind both teams are so unpredictable. Kildare are under all sorts of pressure after losing to Carlow, but they do have quality in their side. Derry went down to Donegal holding their own, kicking 16 points. I call Kildare.
Meath v Tyrone, Páirc Tailteann, 5.0
Tricky one for Tyrone. Meath might be down and out after being beaten by Longford, but they have nothing to lose, especially against a so-called heavyweight in Tyrone. Too much talk going on outside the white lines in Tyrone lately for me and they need to focus on getting back to winning ways, which I think they will.
Limerick v Mayo, Gaelic Grounds, 8.0
Mayo will win this and in a way it’s the perfect game for them to kick-start that engine again. They have a lot of improving to do, everyone knows that, but this is step one.
Offaly v Antrim, Bord na Mona O'Connor Park, 6.0
It was 1-15 to 1-20, the scoreline that threw Offaly football into strife against Wicklow. Stephen Wallace and his backroom team relieved of all duties. Paul Rouse, the journalist, academic and historian, has stepped into his shoes. We all know what happened when a journalist last took on Offaly – we remember it in Kerry from ’82, when Eugene McGee managed them to an All-Ireland. Down took care of Antrim comprehensively and I’m going to say Offaly to win here.
Wicklow v Cavan Joule Park, Aughrim, 6.0
Cavan were disappointing against Donegal, 2-20 to 1-15 is comprehensive, and I expected more from them based on the fact they got promoted to Division 1 this season. Wicklow, with a huge win against Offaly before losing to the Dubs, are playing in Aughrim, but I’m still going to go for Cavan.
Westmeath v Armagh, TEG Cusack Park, 7.0
Westmeath took a thumping from Laois, conceding four goals, and they looked despondent. Armagh looked horrible against Fermanagh. I think Armagh will improve more, I think they have it in them and I think they have more to improve on.
London v Louth, McGovern Park, Ruislip, 2.0
I think this is a very hard one to call. London fancied their chances against Sligo, but lost well. Louth, in Division 2 this year, took a hammering from Carlow from Division 4 – that doesn’t make sense. London are Division 4, but I give them every chance at home to sneak a win.
Leinster SFC semi-finals
Carlow v Laois, Croke Park 2.0
They’re rightly hollering in Carlow about the rising; there’s a ferocious buzz in the county and it’s great to see. But to me, there’s also a rising in Laois; there’s a togetherness about them and John Sugrue has taken them back to basics. They got a fright against Wexford, huge win over Westmeath and in the Kingstons, Colm Begley, John O’Loughlin they have a lot of quality.
Carlow are really hard to beat with the way they set up, they will have watched Fermanagh last weekend beating Monaghan and will take great heart from that. I think it’ll be very, very close and with Paul Broderick up front you’ll have a chance. I’m going to stick with Laois; they beat them in the Division 4 final.
Dublin v Longford, Croke Park, 4.0
Look, it’s a huge day for Longford, the first time in a Leinster semi-final in 30 years, they’re there on merit, they’ve beaten Meath and we all saw what Fermanagh did to a highly-fancied Monaghan last week. Longford could, and maybe should, have pipped Fermanagh to Division 3 promotion this year, but coming up against Dublin is a different story.
Will they come out defensively or go for it man-on-man? I think they’re goosed either way because the most important thing about these Dublin players is they respect everybody. They put out a strong team against Wicklow, they take games on their merits and they don’t look ahead and I think that’s the most dangerous thing here for Longford.
Longford will lose Sunday, but is there any team in Leinster that believes they can beat the Dubs? I don’t think so.
Ulster SFC semi-final
Down v Donegal St Tiernach's Park, Clones, 4.0
Donegal are having to do it the hard way, coming from the preliminary round, but they did avoid the big two of Tyrone and Monaghan, who were on the other side of the draw. Tyrone and Monaghan are gone now and Fermanagh are waiting in the final.
Éamonn Burns’ Down seem to thrive on Championship and while they will take inspiration from their convincing win over Antrim and Fermanagh’s win over Monaghan last week, there’s something about Donegal. They still have that pace with the McHughs and Eoghan Ban Gallagher, Micheal Murphy controls things around the middle of the field, McBrearty and Brennan inside, Odhran Mac Niallais with his long kicking – they have a lot of quality. They have all the artillery to win Ulster if they can retain their focus.
Tomás Ó Sé was speaking to RTÉ Radio 1's Morning Ireland
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