Monaghan v Tyrone
The newly crowned Ulster champions Monaghan take on more Ulster opposition in the shape of Tyrone in the opening All Ireland Quarter Final this Saturday at Croke Park.
Monaghan have had an excellent year so far in winning the Anglo Celt cup after a 25 year wait and are in bonus territory now. Tyrone would have expected to be playing football in August, ideally as Ulster champions, but expected to be here nonetheless.
Tyrone have All Ireland aspirations whereas Monaghan have achieved their goals for the year, promotion from Division 3 as champions and winning the Ulster title make for a good year’s work.
To advance past Tyrone, Monaghan will have to have the same intensity and hunger that brought them success against Donegal in the Ulster final. There is no doubt they will bring intensity to the table and they have every reason to be confident after beating the All Ireland champions, the same team that have defeated Tyrone in the championship. The question is can they play to that tempo and level again?
Tyrone have also had a very good year to date. They may not have any silverware to show for it but getting to the Division 1 final was a good achievement in their league campaign and they have found themselves in the quarter final, exactly where they aimed to be at this stage of the year.
This game should be a closely fought affair, as all Ulster affairs tend to be.
Dublin v Cork
Cork are justifiable favourites for this year’s All Ireland. They dominated Division 1 this season and have been dominant in all three games they have played in Leinster, the closest any team got to them was Meath losing by 7 points in the Leinster final.
They have a very deep panel and pace to burn all over the park. Bernard Brogan has not lived up to his usual standard but if he finds form then Dublin will be an even more daunting opponent in the championship.
As usual Cork have had a quiet run to the quarter final. They brushed away the challenges of Limerick and Clare very easily but were outplayed in the Munster final by Kerry, starting very slowly. They did fight back to be in the balance at the end but a slow start against Dublin could be very costly. They were almost eliminated by Galway in the last round, again starting slowly, but if they had converted their just a few of the goal chances created it could have been a comfortable victory. There is a big game in Cork and this could be where they produce the goods.
This is a young Dublin team and the question over them is how will they fare against a physically strong Cork team? Equally will this big Cork team be able to cope with the pace of Dublin? This should be an intriguing battle in the capital on Saturday.