Football previews: Derry’s likely last stand in Castlebar the pick of the preliminary quarter-finals

Mayo are coming from a different position. Frustrated not to get the win over Dublin, they are nonetheless on a run of just one defeat in the past seven matches

Brian Fenton and Donnacha McHugh playing in the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Round 3 in Dr Hyde Park. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho


All-Ireland SFC preliminary quarter-finals

Galway v Monaghan, Pearse Stadium, 4.0 [Live, GAAGo] – Headline news for Galway is the return of Damien Comer from injury, something Pádraic Joyce wasn’t sure about after the draw with Armagh. He was unhappy with the squandering of a match-winning position but fatalistic about the extra fixture. For most of last week, Galway looked on their way to a comfortable win so to concede a draw because of their goalkeeper created a downbeat mood.

They should revive here. Monaghan did finally get a second win of the year, against Meath but they needlessly complicated what should have been an untroubled victory by allowing a healthy lead to shrink almost to calamity. Six years ago, in their Malachy O’Rourke heyday, Monaghan secured a great win here in Salthill but despite some perky contributions last week, notably Barry McBennett’s 1-2 and the rallying point of what is potentially the great Conor McManus’s last intercounty match, this is a match that Galway should have in hand. Verdict: Galway

Tyrone v Roscommon, Healy Park, 5.0 [Live, GAAGo] – Tyrone had a solid outing last week against Cork, riding their luck a little in the first half but being clearly better after half-time. Mattie Donnelly’s intelligent probings keep the team motoring and up front Darragh Canavan’s quicksilver scoring threat spells trouble for any opponents.

Roscommon had a productive last match in the group, registering a first championship win in a year. Diarmuid Murtagh helped himself to 1-4 from play, Enda Smith scored 1-1 and had an assist for Brian Stack’s goal and Daire Cregg shot 0-4. It adds up to impressive scoring but a spirited Cavan also put the spotlight on a porous defence. Verdict: Tyrone


Mayo v Derry, Hastings Insurance MacHale Park, 6.30 [Live GAAGo] – It’s now knock-out for everybody but this has the “last chance saloon” feel about it for Derry after a summer of dismal underachievement. Even last week’s eventual win over Westmeath did little to arrest the impression of decline.

Mayo are coming from a different position. Frustrated not to get the win over Dublin, they are nonetheless on a run of just one defeat in the past seven matches, a testament to their consistency. A big crowd is expected in Castlebar, as the home team pick up momentum.

The man-marking done on Dublin’s main players, Brian Fenton and Con O’Callaghan, was hugely effective by Donnacha McHugh and Sam Callinan, and Kevin McStay will presumably want to replicate those details on Conor Glass and Shane McGuigan. Derry’s most significant failings have been a lack of energy in the middle third, barndoor openness and deteriorating indiscipline. Mayo have been able to keep things cool and advance without the need for matinee heroics. Derry came here on St Patrick’s Day and won by five but that was in their league manifestation. Expect Mayo to bring the buzz early and prevent Mickey Harte’s team finding a way into the contest. Verdict: Mayo

Louth manager Ger Brennan at the Kildare vs Louth Leinster GAA Senior Football Championship Semi-Final. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho


All-Ireland SFC preliminary quarter-final

Louth v Cork, Inniskeen, 3.0 [Live, GAAGo] – You would have got long odds, on Ger Brennan improving Louth after the abrupt departure of Mickey Harte but that’s what happened. Improved showings against Dublin and Kerry have culminated in qualification for the knock-out stages of the championship and a “home” match in their temporary abode of Inniskeen across the border in Monaghan. They have a good record against Cork in the league but need to be careful with the ball, as the volume of turnovers they conceded to Kerry will be ruthlessly punished by Cork as well. John Cleary names Brian Hurley on the bench and they missed him against Tyrone. Louth have a strong inside attack in Sam Mulroy, Ryan Burns and Ciarán Byrne but Cork defend in numbers and break hard. Verdict: Cork

Tailteann Cup semi-finals

Antrim v Laois, Croke Park, 2.0 [Live, RTÉ 2] – Laois had a great win over Kildare just a week after puffing to get past New York. The moribund state of their opponents, detectible in Glenn Ryan’s resignation, shouldn’t obscure that Laois played well. A year ago, they were eviscerated by Down at this stage and will hope to improve on that. Andy McEntee’s Antrim were also defeated in the semi-finals but a lot more respectably. Verdict: Antrim

Down v Sligo, Croke Park, 4.0 [Live, RTÉ 2] – Sligo have had a very decent season and come to Croke Park unbeaten in the Tailteann and their one championship defeat, a heartbreakingly close call by Galway looking even better now that their conquerors are Connacht champions. They also rallied the troops when these semi-finals were threatened by last minute switching with the hurling quarter-finals. Down have carried the favourites’ bib all through the competition but they will be aware of how disappointing their most recent Croke Park visits have been, losing last year’s final against Meath and then the Division Three decider against Westmeath. Verdict: Down

Seán Moran

Seán Moran

Seán Moran is GAA Correspondent of The Irish Times