READ ALL ABOUT IT! ALL-IRELAND SENIOR FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW
All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Blog
by Patrick O’Malley
It’s set to be another huge weekend of football action and possible the most eagerly anticipated yet this year with not one, not two, but three provincial titles in Connacht, Ulster and Leinster on the line as part of the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship.
This weekend’s football action also features four intriguing All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Qualifier ties. Clare travel to Markievicz Park to face Sligo, Longford play host to Cork at Pearse Park, Mayo welcome Kildare to Elverys’ MacHale Park and Cavan clash with Ulster rivals Derry in Kingspan Breffni Park.
Let’s take a closer look at
some of these games.
The qualifier action begins in Sligo on Saturday afternoon when Sligo and Clare go head-to-head at Markievicz Park in what is the third-ever championship meeting between the two teams. Sligo manager Niall Carew has stressed the importance of his side receiving a home draw in the qualifiers and believes that it is a massive boost for any county. The Yeats County come into this game on the back of an 11-point victory over neighbours Leitrim a fortnight ago. Niall Murphy’s switch from midfield to full-forward proved to be a master stroke for Carew’s charges as the Coolera/Strandhill clubman caused havoc in the Leitrim defence, finishing with five points to his name.
Clare qualified for Saturday’s encounter thanks to a late second-half rally against Laois in Cusack Park last weekend. Three points down with 51 minutes on the clock, the Banner County held their opponents scoreless for the entire final quarter and picked off some crucial scores of their own to send Laois crashing out of the championship.
Both sides will be confident of advancing to the next round of the qualifiers because they are so evenly matched, however, expect Sligo to make the most out of their home advantage and progress to Round 4. Verdict: Sligo
Giant-killers Longford welcome Cork to Glennon Brothers Pearse Park tomorrow after their heroic triumph over a much fancied Monaghan side on Saturday last. Mickey Quinn and Robbie Smyth raised green flags as Monaghan’s dream of All-Ireland glory went up in smoke. Longford manager Denis Connerton has shown just one change to the team that produced the shock of the championship in Clones. Barry O’Farrell has been rewarded for his impressive substitute appearance last weekend and replaces Paul McGee.
As for the Rebels, captain Paul Kerrigan and centre-forward Mark Collins were both on top form to help Cork advance past Limerick to qualify for tomorrow’s showdown. After their shock Munster Senior Football Championship semi-final defeat against Tipperary, it was the perfect response from Peadar Healy’s side as they comfortably swept aside the challenge of their provincial rivals despite Colm O’Neill missing a fifth-minute penalty.
Longford come into this game full of confidence and will be looking to add Cork to their list of major qualifier scalps. The fact that they are playing at home is also a huge psychological advantage, however you would expect Cork to show their experience and their sheer class to pull them over the line. Verdict: Cork
Kingspan Breffni Park is the venue for what is arguably the closest game to call in this weekend’s round of qualifiers as Cavan entertain Ulster rivals Derry.
Derry come into this encounter after showing real heart to come back from a seven point half-time deficit against Meath in Owenbeg last Saturday. Playing with the aid of the breeze at their backs in the second-half, the Oak Leafers made full use of the elements to run out winners on a scoreline of 1-14 to 1-11.
Cavan will be seeking revenge after their one point defeat to Damian Barton’s men in the Allianz League last February. That result though has little bearing on what will transpire tomorrow afternoon as one team’s All-Ireland campaign comes to an end for another year at least. Terry Hyland’s side overcame the disappointment of losing to Tyrone in the Ulster Senior Football Championship semi-final replay by coming out on top in a potentially tricky game against Carlow last Saturday.
A tit-for-tat affair is promised in Cavan tomorrow but expect the home side to pull clear and progress to the next round. Verdict: Cavan
The final Round 3 qualifier of the weekend is the pairing of Mayo and Kildare in Elverys’ MacHale Park on Saturday evening. Following their shock defeat at the hands of an impressive Galway outfit almost four weeks ago, Mayo entered the ‘back-door’ system for the first time since 2010. Stephen Rochford’s troops bounced back from that defeat to the Tribesmen, eventually disposing of a spirited Fermanagh side by five points in Castlebar last Saturday, albeit in controversial circumstances. Trailing by a single point with six minutes left on the clock, there was uproar when referee Joe McQuillan pointed to the penalty spot after Mayo star Aidan O’Shea’s blatant dive in the large rectangle. Captain Cillian O’Connor dispatched the penalty with aplomb and the home side finished the game strong to secure a 2-14 to 1-12 win.
Kildare also recorded a five point victory of their own in St. Conleth’s Park last Saturday evening as they eventually brushed aside the challenge of Offaly to record a 1-22 to 2-14 success. Niall Kelly and Neil Flynn were in inspirational form for the Lilywhites as they notched up nine points between them to kick-start Cian O’Neill’s side championship campaign.
It’s difficult to know what to expect from either side in Castlebar tomorrow but this could be the perfect opportunity for Mayo to finally shake off the shackles and show the doubters that they are still real All-Ireland contenders. Verdict: Mayo
This Weekend’s Football Fixtures
Saturday, July 16:
All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Qualifiers Round 3A
Sligo VS Clare, Markievicz Park, 2:00
Cavan VS Derry, Kingspan Breffni Park, 3:30
All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Qualifiers Round 3B
Longford VS Cork, Glennon Brothers Pearse Park, 3:00
Mayo VS Kildare, Elverys MacHale Park, 7:00
Sunday, July 17:
Electric Ireland Ulster Minor Football Championship Final
Derry VS Donegal, St. Tiernach’s Park, Clones, 12:00
Electric Ireland Leinster Minor Football Championship Final
Kildare VS Laois, Croke Park, 2:00
Ulster GAA Senior Football Championship Final
Donegal VS Tyrone, St. Tiernach’s Park, Clones, 2:00
Connacht GAA Senior Football Championship Final – Replay
Galway VS Roscommon, Elverys MacHale Park, 3:30
Leinster GAA Senior Football Championship Final
Dublin VS Westmeath, Croke Park, 4:00