Football predictions: Who will lift Sam Maguire this summer?

Our writers make the big calls ahead of this year’s All-Ireland football championship

Stephen Cluxton and Dublin are looking for their fourth All-Ireland title in a row. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Stephen Cluxton and Dublin are looking for their fourth All-Ireland title in a row. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

Jim McGuinness

Fast forward four months . . . The Super8s was a great success. For all the elite teams of our country!

The Super8s will be: Dublin, Kerry, Monaghan, Donegal, Tyrone, Galway, Mayo, Roscommon.

Will anybody be able to stop Dublin from reclaiming Sam Maguire again?

I feel Dublin can be stopped this season. I feel there have been moments when they have been vulnerable over the last few seasons. The problem has been no other team in the land have been good enough to take advantage of those moments. That might change this year with no Diarmuid Connolly in clutch moments in key games.

The best footballer in the land at present is?

Diarmuid Connolly. Which makes his absence all the more telling. As a football or even just a sports fan we all want to see the best do what they do.

Which youngster should we be paying special attention to?

David Clifford (Kerry) is, I feel, a very exciting young player and has the potential to carry a real threat this year, both from play and placed balls.

Can Mayo come again this summer?

I’m not so sure. Injuries to key players at present and a new condensed championship format that will be very unforgiving once it gets going will mean their passage won’t be as smooth as previous years. That said they have faced every challenge they have met face on for a number of years now so it will be interesting to watch to say the least.

Sean Moran

Fast forward four months . . . The Super8s was a qualified success. The big danger is that of the declining competitiveness of the last eight. It has led to some lop-sided quarter-finals and a slew of dead rubbers would be dismal. That said the use of different venues may balance things and create memorable occasions.

The Super8s will be: It hasn’t happened yet and maybe the draw will rule it out but I’m going with next year’s Division One to confirm their credentials: Galway, Dublin, Monaghan, Tyrone, Kerry, Mayo, Roscommon and Cavan.

Will anybody be able to stop Dublin from reclaiming Sam Maguire again?

Yes. The differentials in recent years against Mayo and Kerry have been marginal and with sundry absences weakening overall strength there has to be vulnerability, especially when attempting something that’s been done on only three occasions. Again, Leinster is a great buffer zone and with every chance that they’ll be back near full strength when the real business is conducted, you’d still fancy them.

The best footballer in the land at present is?

Paddy McBrearty has been in phenomenal form for Donegal, emphasised by the burden placed on him with Michael Murphy recovering from injury. He may be the jewel in a rusty crown but he has nonetheless sparkled.

Donegal’s Paddy McBrearty can stand out for Donegal. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Donegal’s Paddy McBrearty can stand out for Donegal. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Which youngster should we be paying special attention to? Galway have a number of noted promising youngsters but a late bolter is Ciarán Duggan. Prominent for his club Annaghdown in the championship when with Damien Comer, they nearly dislodged future All-Ireland champions Corofin, he came in half way through the league, as a substitute against Kerry before starting all of the last four matches culminating in a creditable display at centrefield in the final against Dublin.

Can Mayo come again this summer?

Probably not but I say that every year and always turn out to be wrong.

Darragh Ó Sé

Fast forward four months . . . The Super8s was a huge success. Dublin, Kerry, Mayo, Galway, Monaghan, Tipperary, Roscommon, Tyrone.

Will anybody be able to stop Dublin from reclaiming Sam Maguire again?

Probably not. Everybody has had their swing at them at this stage and everyone has been found wanting. Who else is improving enough to match them? Outside of Mayo, I don’t think anyone can.

The best footballer in the land at present is?

James McCarthy. I love the way plays with such abandon. You can see he has licence to go out and go where he likes and do what he likes because they trust him to always do the right thing. Great player.

Which youngster should we be paying special attention to?

I think David Clifford will make his mark. He will start games for Kerry and he’s big enough and strong enough to have an impact. I wouldn’t worry for him at all.

David Clifford is tipped to make a big impact in this summer’s Championship. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho
David Clifford is tipped to make a big impact in this summer’s Championship. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Can Mayo come again this summer?

They can of course. Whether it’s enough to beat Dublin is another matter. But if people are waiting for them to fade away altogether, they’ll be waiting another few years yet.

Malachy Clerkin

Fast forward four months . . . The Super8s was a Resounding success.

The Super 8s will be: Dublin, Kerry, Monaghan, Mayo, Kildare, Galway, Roscommon, Tyrone.

Will anybody be able to stop Dublin from reclaiming Sam Maguire again?

Looks unlikely. The new system will chip away at the panel depth of their peers more than it will them. Their bench has won them the last two All-Irelands. No reason to think this will be especially different.

The best footballer in the land at present is?

Ciarán Kilkenny is a Swiss Army Knife of a player for Dublin. Scored 2-18 from play in the league in at full-forward but could just as easily be used anywhere from wing-back upwards. Accurate and athletic in everything he does.

Which youngster should we be paying special attention to?

Sean O’Shea can thank David Clifford for being able to settle in free of the spotlight that would ordinarily be on a 19-year-old playing at 11 for Kerry. A terrific play-maker and hardy with it.

Can Mayo come again this summer?

They can and they will. Nobody but Dublin would have lived with them in the All-Ireland final. They won’t be bullied by anyone and they don’t lack creativity on the sideline. Still Dublin’s biggest threat.

Eamon Donoghue

Fast forward four months . . . The Super8s was a Huge success for the elite counties and broadcasters.

The Super8s will be: Dublin, Kerry, Tyrone, Galway, Mayo, Roscommon, Monaghan, Donegal.

Will anybody be able to stop Dublin from reclaiming Sam Maguire again?

I’m backing Kerry. They have a team who are almost there, with a crop of youngsters coming through the calibre of which they have not produced all at once in a very long time. Éamonn Fitzmaurice’s role in finding the right blend is crucial. The players are there.

The best footballer in the land at present is?

Based solely on the league the answer is Damien Comer. He’s been unplayable. But looking beyond that and predicting the Footballer of the Year - James McCarthy, Ciaran Kilkenny and Lee Keegan are the most all round footballers who have the best chance of competing for top honours.

Galway’s Damien Comer was impressive during the league. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho
Galway’s Damien Comer was impressive during the league. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

Which youngster should we be paying special attention to?

Tough, alert and composed. A blend of the traditional fullback and modern defender. Sean Andy O Ceallaigh impressed for Galway Under-21s last year - but few expected him to have such an instant impact during the league. His role in a Galway fullback line which has been badly exposed in recent years will be crucial.

Can Mayo come again this summer?

Everyone is coming in blind to the Super8s, but Mayo do know what it’s like to play week on week and keep on going right through to September. The key for them though is to try and avoid being burnt out in a qualifier burst beforehand.

Ian O’Riordan

Fast forward four months . . . The Super8s was interesting.

The Super8s will be: Dublin, Tyrone, Kerry, Galway, Mayo, Roscommon, Monaghan, Armagh

Enda Smith’s Roscommon are fancied to reach the new Super 8s. Photograph: Tommy Grealy/Inpho
Enda Smith’s Roscommon are fancied to reach the new Super 8s. Photograph: Tommy Grealy/Inpho

Will anybody be able to stop Dublin from reclaiming Sam Maguire again?

Galway have shown how close they can run them, but stopping Dublin is a different matter. Unless Dublin somehow trip themselves up.

The best footballer in the land at present is?

Dublin’s Ciaran Kilkenny could probably play in goal if he wanted too, so complete is his versatility.

Which youngster should we be paying special attention to?

David Clifford has already had special attention but let’s see what else he brings alongside Kieran Donaghy and co.

Can Mayo come again this summer?

They can come close, but isn’t that the story of their summer? The chance is slipping further on behind.

Keith Duggan

Fast forward four months . . . The Super8s was way better fun than was predicted.

The Super8s will be: Dublin. Kerry. Mayo. Tyrone. Galway. Tipperary. Roscommon. Donega

Will anybody be able to stop Dublin from reclaiming Sam Maguire again? Yes. Several teams - Kerry, Mayo, Tyrone and possibly Galway are capable of beating Dublin on a given day. If Dublin played those teams in a best-of-seven series, they would probably win 4-1. But over 70 minutes, there is no reason why a handful of teams can’t reach a sufficient tactical, physical and mental peak to dethrone the champions.

The best footballer in the land at present is?

Right now its hard to look beyond Damien Comer. But it may be Ryan McHugh. Over the summer, I expect to see the usual phenomenal contributions from Lee Keegan, Michael Murphy and James McCarthy. But it’s a terrific time for brilliant Gaelic footballers.

Which youngster should we be paying special attention to?

Kerry’s Sean O’Shea and Galway’s Sean Andy O’Ceallaigh both looked hugely exciting over the course of the league. Not sure either of them would be up for the ‘youngster’ tag.

Can Mayo come again this summer?

They can. They can’t not.

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