No Quarter Given

Note – I copied this here from http://marklawrensonmustbestopped.blogspot.ie/ which I now dedicate to soccer.  All my GAA and Donegal posts now go on here.

And so we are nearly at the ‘business’ end of the Championship. I say ‘nearly’ because I’m not really convinced that provincial runners-up or indeed winners from the Qualifiers belong at the business end of the Championship. Maybe I’ll leave my assessment of the structures in football and hurling for another day, eh?
Tyrone v Kildare (Croke Park, Sunday)

Tyrone are firm favourites with the bookies and likewise with myself. Other than allowing a fading Armagh team to get within a score of them in the 1st round, I have seen nothing from Tyrone and little evidence from any other teams that would shake my faith in Tyrone retaining their title. The loss of John Devine shouldn’t affect them greatly and the break since the Ulster Final should allow Brian Dooher and Enda McGinley time to recover further.

I feel Kildare are being massively overrated, based largely on their televised Leinster final display against Dublin. Let’s see, Dublin were a man down for much of the game and still won comfortably enough in the end-of Kildare were largely on top for long periods of the 1st half, Dublin blitzed them in the 2nd half and never really looked in danger of losing. Their full back line was simply awful, but at least ‘Geezer’ acted decisively in taking off one of his corner backs after the 1st quarter-a good quality in a manager-but then again, it begs the question-why did he start in the first place? Looking at their wins outside of the Leinster Final, we see that they have faced Offaly, Laois and Wicklow-all Leinster teams, and none of whom I would rate highly. Just because Wicklow managed to dispose of 3 poor Ulster teams on their home patch doesn’t make beating them any great achievement in my view, and Kildare made heavy enough going of doing so last weekend.

Tyrone should win comfortably-the bookies say 4 points, and it’s a bet I might just take.

Dublin v Kerry (Croke Park, Monday)
If Dublin are to finally win against one of the top teams, this is the time to do it-Kerry are carrying injuries to key players and have been wholly unconvincing at all times in this year’s Championship, save for maybe the final 20 minutes against Antrim. Dublin meanwhile have done all that has been asked of them-a mediocre enough display against Meath was followed up with a hammering of Westmeath and a 14 man win against Kildare. In Bernard Brogan, they may finally have found a forward that they can rely on to perform week in week out-his brother has frequently let the Dubs down in big games, and Colin Keaney is not consistent enough. That has often been Dublin’s downfall in recent years, we will see if they have finally addressed this on Monday. Dublin’s porous defence will offer Kerry plenty of opportunities though-whether the Gooch is in the frame of mind to take them remains to be seen.

One thing would worry me (if I was a Dublin fan) was that when the going got tough against Kildare, they turned to the likes of Brian Cullen, CiaranWhelan and Shane Ryan. These are all players who have failed on the big stage in the past (Cullen is not a good enough defender to play centre back; Whelan disappears in big games; Ryan is not a good enough footballer at the highest level), and the the other sub they introduced was awful.

Kerry still have the class to beat Dublin-whether they have the motivation and cohesion is debatable. Dublin are favoured by a point-if it’s that close, I don’t think they’ll win it. Kerry to sneak through.

Mayo v Meath (Croke Park, Sunday 9 August)

Well after just finishing Meath fall over the line against Limerick, Mayo should have nothing to fear. Ok the 2nd Limerick goal was a tad fortunate, and Meath did lose a man due to reasons unknown (As an aside, isn’t it great that RTE cameramen can pan to the stands to look at Sean Boylan sitting quitely and a fat guy in a 1990 Meath jersey every 5 minutes, but miss a key moment of the game? Well played lads.) Meath have got to this stage by much the same route as Kildare-defeat to Dublin in a game that was there for the taking, and a series of victories over mediocre opposition-and will be missing their captain Stephen Bray after his straight red card this evening.

But, if history (and the Connacht Final) have taught us anything, it is that Mayo will always make life interesting/heartbreaking for their long-suffering supporters. They were by far the better team in their encounter with Galway, yet at the death, it was a level game, and better concentration from Galway would have ensured a replay. Meath will have to reach another level to upset Mayo and I doubt they will be capable of same. Mayo to win with relative ease.

Cork v Donegal (Croke Park, Sunday)
I’ve said enough about this game elsewhere. Both sides have named their teams-Anthony Lynch must pass a fitness test on gameday to play-his presence could be key to Cork’s chances-while Donegal are unchanged-I’m surprised Leo McLoone starts again.

Cork to win by a few-I just can’t see us overturning the odds for a third weekend running.

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