SATURDAY 10 JULY
Ulster SFC quarter-final
Tyrone v Cavan, Healy Park, 4.30pm
SUNDAY 11 JULY
Ulster SFC quarter-final
Donegal v Derry, MacCumhaill Park, 4pm
Live blog on RTÉ Sport Online and the RTÉ News app.
Highlights of all the weekend's championship action on The Sunday Game, RTÉ One and RTÉ Player from 9.30pm.
Live coverage on Saturday Sport and Sunday Sport on RTÉ Radio 1.
Saturday will start off mostly cloudy, but will brighten up with sunny spells and scattered showers, some of them possibly heavy in the late afternoon and evening. Warm with highest temperatures of 18 to 21 degrees and light breezes. Sunday will see a mix of sunshine and heavy showers with the potential for some thundery downpours. Top temperatures of 16 to 20 degrees on Sunday, warmest in the east and northeast of the country with moderate south or southwest winds. For more go to met.ie.
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Breffni highs and lows
A county steeped in football tradition had, perhaps, its most unexpected success last autumn when beating all before them to claim Ulster glory. Not only Cavan celebrated but others from across its borders basked in the reflected glory. It was a well-merited success, too, as Donegal in the final and earlier Monaghan, Antrim and Down, were all put to the sword.
In normal times the success would have been celebrated with much revelry ahead of a trip to Croke Park.
That was then.
Similar to the Tipperary footballers, who also claimed a surprise provincial win last November, Cavan endured a horrid league campaign. We still thought they would be good enough to get over Wicklow and stay in the third tier. Veteran attacker Seanie Furlong fired two crucial goals in the relegation play-off - a game where Mickey Graham's side were always playing catch-up. The Garden County hung on for a deserved two-point win.
For Cavan, it was a third successive relegation - Division 4 is where they will begin life in 2022. The euphoria of that November day at the Athletic Grounds now a distant memory.
Graham, however, is being pragmatic when he says that he does not know how the league slump will affect his side. He will be hoping the resilience that saw his troops come out the right side of some tight Ulster encounters last autumn is still there.
He told The Irish News: "Only time will tell, you'd like to think that the lads showed that spirit last year and that bit of resilience that they had is still in them. We'll not know until game time arrives.
"You'd be hoping that spirit that they showed last year will be enough to get them motivated to try to put in a big performance against Tyrone.
"We'll be able to answer that question a lot better when the time comes."
Looking at the province as a whole, Graham feels Ulster is a "bit behind" Dublin, Kerry and Mayo at the moment. Ahead of Saturday's clash, he told RTÉ Sport: "If you are looking at the league and taking that as the form guide, you would probably say that. Dublin and Kerry seem to be pushing on again and Ulster football is that bit behind.
"You would hope that wasn't the case but on the evidence of what we have seen so far you would have to think that.
"Mayo have had a good campaign as well, they are one of the contenders for the All-Ireland, The teams in Ulster, are their best years behind them? Only time will tell."
Bouncing back from reality check
Tyrone, now under the care of Feargal Logan and Brian Doohan, had a decent league campaign that made some, including Pat Spillane, sit up at the way they transitioned from defence to attack. The right supply for the likes of Darren McCurry, Paul Donaghy, Niall Sludden and Cathal McShane should yield a productive dividend.
And then Tyrone's world came crashing down on 12 June in Killarney when Kerry played puck, winning that Division 1 semi-final by 6-16 to 1-13. Quite a scutching alright!
Tyrone might have to offer the 'only the League' defence after that game, even though they might have had a crack at a league title had they won in Killarney. Looking at the result, it seems fanciful that they might have ever entertained such a notion given how they performed.
It would be easy to make the joke about the Tyrone defenders adhering to the two-metre rule when it came to their opponents, but collectively and individually the Red Hand defence was a rabble.
Much then for Dooher and Logan to ponder. The word is that Tyrone conceded four goals to Roscommon in a recent challenge game. All in all not the best prep for a campaign where the Red Hands have designs on coming out on top - winning a first Ulster crown since 2017.
Derry feeling good again as Donegal test looms
Boxes ticked so far for Derry in terms of getting promotion to Division 2 and getting a run-out at Croke Park in the third-tier final. Manager Rory Gallagher is bullish about where he thinks his side can go. His players have definitely put in a shift so far.
Gareth McKinless, Conor Glass, Niall O'Loughlin and Shane McGuigan provided a strong backbone on which spring/early summer success came about.
"I think we have the ability to be one of the top teams in the country so Division 3 was a false reading," Gallagher recently told an expectant media.
"I would not have been happy if we had not been able to get out of it and get out of it quite comfortably as well," he told the media ahead of this campaign.
"If you are asking me do I think we can be Ulster champions with the team that we have, (we can), but we have to start proving it."
Defensively, Derry were so disciplined against Offaly in the Division 3 final. Donegal, of course, will be a much more difficult unit to contain in terms of their width and angles of running. Some observers have Derry as third in the Ulster pecking order behind Donegal and Tyrone. Armagh and Monaghan may disagree, but there's no doubt that the Oakleafers are in the best place they've been since 2015 when they last won a match in Ulster.
Michael Murphy watches on as Jamie Brennan scores a controversial goal for Donegal. They lead Down by 10 points at the break.— The Sunday Game (@TheSundayGame) June 27, 2021
Watch highlights on #sundaygame on @rteone on 9.30pm pic.twitter.com/rWGFM33hck
Donegal's performance in blowing away Down may have tempered expectations somewhat that a surprise is on the cards. Michael Murphy came off early, but Declan Bonner ensures us he will feature in Ballybofey. The Glenswilly man is still key to Donegal's plan, as is Paddy McBrearty, but then throw in Michael Langan, Niall O'Donnell and Peader Mogan and the mix in attack is quite formidable.
After falling to Cavan at the final hurdle last year, Donegal will want to atone. Winning Ulster will not be easy, though, but it is ideal prep for them to showcase what they are about if they do get to Croker on 15 August for an All-Ireland semi.
Follow all the championship matches this weekend with our live blogs on RTÉ.ie/sport and the RTÉ News app.
Watch Leitrim v Mayo and Derry v Donegal live on RTÉ2 (from 1.30 pm Sunday) and see highlights of all the weekend's action on The Sunday Game at 9.30pm on RTÉ One.
Listen to live and exclusive national radio commentaries on RTÉ Radio 1's Saturday and Sunday Sport.