Kildare’s Harry O’Neill and Ruairi Canavan of Tyrone in action. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Imagine the spark that both Canavans coming into a qualifying game could bring

Derry manager Rory Gallagher celebrates victory over Tyrone. Photograph: Lorcan Doherty/Inpho

The unpredictable nature of the Ulster championship set to continue this weekend

What will Kerry do if David Clifford picks up an injury? Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

A familiar question with no satisfactory answer: What has happened to Cork football?

Dublin goalkeeper Evan Comerford has big boots to fill. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

The Stephen Cluxton kick-out was the foundation on which the empire was built

The way Armagh appealed the suspensions given to players will irk other teams. Photograph: Evan Logan/Inpho

Side that finds the balance between kicking and possession will be championship favourite

Jim McGuinness on David Clifford: ‘I’m fascinated by how quickly he bounces the ball and uses the force of the bounce to propel himself’. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Seán Moran, Jim McGuinness, Malachy Clerkin and Darragh Ó Sé look ahead

Tyrone’s Ulster Championship victory was surely a springboard to All-Ireland success. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Why are the GAA throwing away over 130 years of provincial championship history?

Mayo’s Pédraig O’Hora and Enda Hession celebrate at the final whistle after beating Dublin in the All-Ireland semi-final. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

When it comes down to it I struggle to see beyond Mayo but the margins are fine

Frank Burns put in an early hit on Dara moynihan to set the tone for Tyrone against Kerry. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Kingdom looked like novices as they tried and failed to break down the mid-block

Kerry’s David Clifford passes to set up the fifth goal during their meeting against Tyrone in the league in June. File Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Pairing is one of the best modern rivalries, but Kingdom likely victors unless they falter

Mayo’s Colm Boyle celebrates the semi-final victory over Dublin  at the final whistle with Stephen Coen. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

How Dublin respond to the sight of another team lifting the Sam Maguire will be fascinating

Mayo’s Matthew Ruane celebrates after scoring a goal during the Connacht final win over Galway. Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

James Horan’s side can exploit their opponents who may well be weakened

Mayo’s Matthew Ruane celebrates after scoring a goal in the Connacht SFC Final against Galway at Croke Park. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Magnitude of what may be about to unfold only adds to the intrigue

You have ask the question: what happened to Dublin in the second half against Meath? Photograph: Brian Reilly-Troy/Inpho

Move them into a different room in their minds, then beat them at football

Tyrone’s Kieran McGeary in action against  Ryan McHugh of Donegal during the Ulster SFC semi-final at Brewster Park in  Enniskillen. Photograph:  Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Elemental rawness created by fierce defensive play now marked absent

Kieran McGeeney’s side have something about them but need more solidity in defence

My sense is that Stephen Cluxton won’t be back so why then the ambiguity? Is there more to this saga than meets the eye? File photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Pioneer goalkeeper has been a huge part of Dublin’s ‘invincible’ tag

Kerry’s Killian Spillane looked noticeably fitter and stronger last week. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Physical conditioning of Kerry last week was striking to see and needs to be replicated

Mayo’s Cillian O’Connor scores their second goal in the All-Ireland quarter-final against Meath in July 2019. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

James Horan’s side have developed a running game and have the players to pull it off

Patrick McBrearty is a top talent and a mature player but he hasn’t won an All Star yet. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Less games has helped Dublin, while clouds hang over Donegal, Kerry and Tyrone

Aidan O’Shea can play a vital role in Mayo’s kick-out strategy as they look to gain an advantage against Brian Fenton and James McCarthy . Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

James Horan’s side need to challenge Dublin kick-outs and make sure their own is solid

Ciaran Kilkenny calls an advanced mark in a league clash with Kerry. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

The advanced mark is the anthithesis of all we hold dear - it is a complete abomination

 Mickey Graham will need to remind his Cavan team of the ‘why’. File photograph:

To beat Mayo, Tipperary will have to go to that place Cavan reached in the Ulster final

Dublin captain Stephen Cluxton lifts the Delaney Cup after the victory over Meath in the Leinster final at Croke Park. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

The GAA will also need to get serious about financial investment in counties to level things up

Tempers flare during the 2016 All-Ireland final replay between Dublin and Mayo at Croke Park. Photograph:  Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Any contenders to Dublin’s crown are going to have to produce something very special

Mayo have the players to push out quickly to pressure the opposition ball carrier. Photograph: Inpho

Connacht final to provide a refreshing break from mad focus on ball retention

Dublin manager Dessie Farrell at the AFL Division 1 game between Dublin and Kerry  in Croke Park on January 25th. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Teams will watch for signs of new Dublin manager’s intent, and clues to football’s future

US President Donald Trump addresses supporters during a Make America Great Again rally in North Carolina last week. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Battle lines between Democrats and Republicans in Charlotte were clear to see

Paul Mannion, Cian O’Sullivan and Con O’Callaghan celebrate another All-Ireland title. O’Sullivan started his sixth victorious final. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Decision not to employ extra men behind the ball in defence ensured only one result

Donegal’s Paddy McGrath and Con O’Callaghan of Dublin compete for a high ball at the All-Ireland SFC quarter-final phase 1 at Croke Park in July. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Simple rule changes could help the game move faster and free it from hand-pass hell

It may not be pretty but Harte’s men must not bow to Dublin’s terms of engagement

Monaghan’s Drew Wylie and Colm Cavanagh of Tyrone scuffle during the game. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

O’Rourke’s men didn’t play their game and so let a glorious opportunity pass them by

Tyrone’s Harry Loughran scores his side’s first goal despite Donegal goalkeeper Shaun Patton best efforts at MacCumhaill Park in Ballybofey. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Harte’s men will feel an All-Ireland final place is at hand but Monaghan have big assets

Kerry’s Jack Barry, Paul Murphy and Ronan Shanahan with Conor McManus of Monaghan in the All-Ireland SFC quarter-final phase 2 at St Tiernach’s Park, Clones. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Kerry will work hard to beat Kildare, but reaching semi-final is out of their hands

Jonny Cooper claims possession despite the efforts of Tyrone’s Mark Bradley and Niall Sludden at Healy Park. Cooper was immense at the heart of Dublin’s defence. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Engaging champions in key battle areas the only way to psychologically ruffle them

Kerry and Galway in action at Croke Park. The game got off to such a slow-burning start that the crowd fell quiet and we could hear every ball being called for. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

True potential of the new format may be seen in next week’s games at provincial venues

Kildare’s manager Cian O’Neill during the game against Mayo in Newbridge. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

The ‘Newbridge-or-nowhere’ stance by Kildare has fuelled their season

Mayo’s Keith Higgins, Conor Loftus and Diarmuid O’Connor react as referee David Gough awards Kildare a late free at Newbridge. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Newbridge had an end-of-era feel on Saturday but Mayo will live long in the memory

Shane Walsh: was the one Galway player who was exceptional all through the game against Roscommon. Photograph: Laszo Geczo/Inpho

Connacht champions will need to start a lot quicker when it comes to Super-8s

Meath’s Joey Wallace with Hugh Pat McGeary of Tyrone at the All-Ireland Football Senior Championship qualifiers round one at Páirc Tailteann, Navan, Co Meath on Saturday. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

One thing that stood out was just how critical kick-outs have become in the modern game

 Fermanagh manager Rory Gallagher talks to his players during the Ulster semi-final against Monaghan at Healy Park,  Omagh, Co Tyrone. Photograph: Philip Fitzpatrick/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Manager’s defensive system proved highly effective and Fermanagh are in an Ulster final

Tipperary’s Bill Maher with Ian Maguire of Cork in the Munster SFC semi-final at Semple Stadium, Thurles, last Saturday. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

Cork’s health is vital for the future of the province – and to break Dublin’s iron grip

Tyrone’s Conall McCann in action against Monaghan’s Conor McCarthy at Healy Park. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Beating Tyrone was a huge step but replicating champions’ game plan won’t suffice

 Mayo’s Seamus O’Shea under pressure from Barry McHugh, Peter Cooke, and Gary O’Donnell of Galway. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Inability to outsmart Galway’s defence costs Mayo again - Dublin won’t be so blunt in attack

Jim McGuinness and Pat Shovelin (right) on the sideline for Donegal. “It meant the world to Pat to be involved with Donegal, and he was so proud of the boys. And I just hope he knew that they were proud of him too.”  Photograph: Jonathan Porter/Inpho

I have often spoken about the bond that I felt the Donegal boys had. Pat was the glue

Dublin were left in a far better place by Donal Vaughan’s red card. The whole outcome changed on that instant. Photograph: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile via Getty Images

An All-Ireland was there but Vaughan’s red card and not managing the end game lost it for them

Sam Maguire Cup. I think it will be close and that, ultimately, it could come down to hunger. And I just don’t see Mayo being denied if that is the definitive virtue. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Pressurising Dublin ball-carriers and limiting their options essential for challengers

Pat Gilroy: It was under his watch that Dublin began to run the senior football team as a business. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Proper funding and streamlined coaching in weaker counties can in time reap results

Dejected Tyrone players leave the field at Croke Park. None of the qualities we took for granted with them were evident on Sunday. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Bafflingly inept display by Ulster side made semi-final a stroll in the park for Gavin’s men

Andy Moran: was a joy to watch. His movement and game intelligence was exemplary. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpo

They need to win the middle-third battle and improve on their own kick-outs

“If they don’t win, I feel their legacy should be that they had simply nothing left to give and it wasn’t quite enough. And there is no shame in that.” Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

Great drama awaits and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Tyrone in the final – or Mayo

Dublin’s Paul Mannion in action against  Drew Wylie of Monaghan during the  All-Ireland SFC quarter-final at Croke Park. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Champions yet to be tested and there's no guarantee they have the answers

Galway’s Damien Comer breaks through the challenge of Kerry’s  Mark Griffin during the All-Ireland quarter-final at Croke Park. Photograph: Tommy Grealy/Inpho

Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s side showed chinks in their armour in Galway game

Roscommon celebrate as Niall Kilroy lifts the Nestor Cup following their victory over Galway in the Connacht final at Pearse Stadium. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Outsiders are going to have to try something new if Dublin or Kerry are to be stopped

Tyrone players stand for the national anthem ahead of the final  against Down in Clones. They are almost as good as they are going to be. Is that good enough? Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Ulster title victory showed Mickey Harte’s side are now a real threat to Dublin

Joy unconfined as Niall Kilroy lifts the Connacht title for Roscommon in Pearse Stadium. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Connacht title success proved to be sweet vindication for Kevin McStay and his players

Dublin’s Diarmuid Connolly with manager Jim Gavin after being sent off in the quarter-final against Donegal. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Manager likely spoke out to sharpen sense of fraternity in Dublin as they seek three in a row

Kevin McKernan of Down celebrates  at the final whistle of the  Ulster SFC semi-final against Monaghan   at the Athletic Grounds in Armagh. Photograph: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Eamonn Burns’s excellent game plan and his players’ execution was a joy to behold

Donegal’s Patrick McBrearty tackles Tyrone’s Cathal McCarron during the Ulster semi-final at  Clones. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

With some tweaking, Rory Gallagher’s side are good enough to bounce back from defeat

Jonny Wilkinson kicks the winning drop goal to give England victory in extra-time in  the Rugby World Cup Final against Australia in Sydney in 2003. Photograph:  Dave Rogers/Getty Images

Unlike some rivals, they lack a clinical game plan in attack when the game is on the line

Dublin warm up in front their fans in Portlaoise. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Amateur? Like Mr Seligman’s dogs, most counties feel there’s nothing they can do

Like Brendan Rodgers, the meticulous Mickey Harte is squeezing every percentage possible out of the team’s carefully assembled game plan. Photograph: Lorcan Doherty/Presseye/Inpho

Like Celtic’s Brendan Rodgers, Mickey Harte is extracting the maximum from his players

Donegal’s Paddy McGrath celebrates with Paddy McBrearty after scoring his team’s second goal against Antrim in Ballybofey. Photograph: John McIlwaine/Inpho

Donegal, Monaghan and Tyrone all harbour realistic hopes of claiming provincial glory

Dublin’s Vinny Murphy with Mick Lyons of Meath battle for the ball during the Leinster semi-final first replay in 1991. Photo: Inpho

Meath need to step up and create a challenge for Dublin, similar to what we have in Ulster

Referee Maurice Deegan black cards Jonny Cooper. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

In a very real and terrible way, the black card dominated the All-Ireland football final

Dublin’s Jonny Cooper and Mayo’s Andy Moran will most likely be renewing acquaintances in the replayed All-Ireland final. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Champions will be keen to get back to high-tempo style abandoned in drawn final

Mayo’s Lee Keegan and Dublin’s Diarmuid Connolly: “Connolly is a frightening proposition and the way Lee coped with him was impressive.” Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

If Dublin are back to normal for the replay, their offensive threat may be too much

The Donegal players were inspired as they listened on the radio to Michael Carruth win an Olympic gold medal in Barcelona 1992. At the end of that week, the county won the All-Ireland final.Photograph: James Meehan/Inpho

Connacht men will need to bring something different if they are to dethrone Dublin

Donegal’s Michael Murphy: “The best player in Donegal for the last number of years has been Murphy and I don’t know anyone as obsessive about the game as him.” Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

The commitment shown by Tipperary is the foundation of building a winning tradition

Titanic struggle: Dean Rock of Dublin commiserates with  Marc Ó Sé of Kerry after the All-Ireland SFC semi-final on Sunday, which Dublin won by 0-22 to 2-14. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

All-Ireland SFC semi-final not only matched the hype of the occasion; it rose above it

Mayo’s Colm Boyle and Lee Keegan tackle Tipperary’s Michael Quinlivan. There is a price to pay for taking all those tackles. Every heavy hit softens you up to some extent. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

If they go missing for a full 35 minutes, would Mayo survive against Dublin or Kerry?

 Tipperary’s Conor Sweeney  celebrates scoring his side’s second goal against Galway in the quarter-final. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Mayo’s experience gives them the edge but confident Munster men will put it up to them

Get ready for an epic double-bill in Croke Park on Saturday. Four teams convinced they can win

Kendra Harrison wins the women’s 100m hurdles in a world record 12.20 seconds at the London Anniversary Games  at the Olympic Stadium. Photograph: Kirby Lee/USA Today

Knowledge, experience, game plan – just three of the fundamentals for success

Tyrone’s Seán Cavanagh under pressure from the Donegal defence. He guided his team to the Ulster title in Clones with some inspirational late points. Photograph: INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan

I felt Tyrone’s drive and mentality was coming from something bigger or beyond themselves

 Damien Comer of Galway is stopped by Sean Mullooly of Roscommon during last Sunday’s drawn Connacht final. Photo: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Negative style has become a parody of what Donegal tried to achieve

Michael Murphy scored five points in Donegal’s 0-17 to 2-10 Ulster SFC semi-final replay victory over Monaghan at Breffini Park on Saturday. Photograph: Andrew Paton/Inpho.

Ulster championship a prize both rivals will be aiming for with all their efforts

Monaghan and Donegal renew Ulster rivalry. They say familiarity breeds contempt but it can also breed respect. Photograph: Andrew Paton/Inpho

The Republic of Ireland, Donegal and Monaghan share the same basic traits

Declan Kyne tries to block down Mayo’s Seamus O’Shea at MacHale Park in Castlebar, where Galway prevented their provincial rivals from continuing their quest for a sixth Connacht title in a row. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Big question now is how Connacht’s most dominant team respond to Galway setback

Michael Murphy leads the Donegal team on to the pitch at Ballybofey before their match against Fermanagh. Photograph: Lorcan Doherty/Inpho/Presseye

The way championship is unfolding deepens my conviction that reform is needed

Dublin’s John Cooper launches an  attack against Laois. Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Rivals to champions should be preparing now for potential meeting later in season

Cavan’s Michael Argue in action against Armagh’s Joe McElroy. Cavan people feel that their team is on the move. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Watching Atletico Madrid fail to bring their ‘A’ game revived memories of Donegal 2014

Saracens’ Brad Barritt lifts the European Champions Cup trophy after victory over Racing 92. “I have a soft spot for Saracens ever since I spent a day at the club last year.” Photograph: Adam Davy/PA

Sport the common language at a moving event in Glasgow for a Celtic and Donegal fan

Dublin celebrate another All-Ireland victory in front of Hill 16 last September. “My feeling is that they are beatable. They absolutely are beatable.” Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

‘I believe Mayo have the potential to beat Dublin in an All-Ireland final’

Jim McGuinness in action for UUJ against Noel McGuire of UCD during the 2001 Sigerson Cup Final. Photograph: Tom Honan/Inpho

‘The notion of PE teaching was appealing to me but only as a very vague dream. I might as well have decided I wanted to be an astr(...)

Donegal manager Jim McGuinness celebrates with Neil  and Eamonn McGee after the victory over Dublin in the 2014 All-Ireland semi-final at Croke Park. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

In an exclusive extract from his memoir `Until Victory Always', published on October 30th, the former Donegal manager revisits the(...)

Donegal’s Paddy McGrath collapses to the ground dejected at the end of this year’s Ulster SFC final against Monaghan. Photograph: Inpho

This isn’t about a holiday, it’s about respect for people who have given their all to Donegal

Cian O’Sullivan: despite a recent hamstring injury, he was deemed fit enough to play and, as it transpired, he executeed the sweeper role to perfection. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Dublin defence much more difficult to penetrate with O’Sullivan playing a pivotal role

Kerry will expect David Moran to capitalise in centrefield against Dublin in the All-Ireland football final at Croke Park on Sunday. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho.

Counties outside big two have much ground to make up if they are to challenge

Dublin had a detailed game plan to cope with Aidan O’Shea, with Mayo setting up how Jim Gavin expected. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Dublin took advantage as Connacht champions failed to do right things to protect lead

Philly McMahon battles with Mayo’s Aidan O’Shea. Dublin had a plan for O’Shea and it worked well but may have have been really troubled had Barry Moran joined him in the full forward line. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Jim Gavin’s side are more well-rounded but westerners look like team on crusade

Tyrone’s Justin McMahon tussles with Kieran Donaghy. Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s dedcision to introduce Paul Geaney for Donaghy at half-time had the desired effect for Kerry.  Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Mickey Harte’s side had their homework done but Kingdom’s self-belief saw them through

Key men: Aidan O’Shea offers Mayo a new attacking dimension while Cian O’Sullivan is Dublin’s designated sweeper. Photograph: Inpho

Dublin well placed to extend Mayo’s cycle of hurt but pain of losing is a powerful driver

Donegal’s Neil McGee is unable to prevent Mayo’s Aidan O’Shea breaking free to score the opening goal in last Saturday’s  All-Ireland Gaelic Football quarter-final  in Croke Park. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Connacht champions are better placed than ever to win football’s ultimate prize

A Fermanagh fan cheers on her team during Sunday’s quarter-final against Dublin in Croke Park. “They were 10 points down with 15 minutes go to and you would think they were the team winning.” Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho.

Changes need to be made, money to be spent, otherwise all we have in Gaelic football could be lost

Dejected Cork manager Brian Cuthbert: “Cork were asked to take part in a race on Saturday night from a standing start while their opponents were already sprinting.” Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

It is almost impossible to recover from a Munster final replay defeat in just seven days

Donegal’s Michael Murphy in action against Monaghan’s Vinny Corey and Darren Hughes. It seemed to me Murphy played injured at Clones. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Despite this painful Ulster final defeat, I wouldn’t be writing Donegal off just yet

Diarmuid Connolly holds off Paul Sharry and John Gilligan. He was  the best Dublin forward in terms of dealing with the pressure Westmeath exerted. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Jim Gavin has yet to fully solve coaching conundrum

Kieran Donaghy scores Kerry’s first goal in their drawn Munster Senior Football Championship Final clash with Cork last Sunday. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Cork have made significant ground but need to improve by same distance to beat Kerry

Jim Gavin shakes hands with Kildare manager Jason Ryan (left) at Croke Park. The Dublin manager has reshaped his side’s defensive set-up to good effect.  Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Jim Gavin’s side’s central tenet this summer is they will not be exposed down the middle

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