GAA Super 8s: Previews to all of the weekend’s action

Roscommon and Tyrone get ball rolling on Saturday in clash Ulster side is expected to win

Tyrone’s Mattie Donnelly. Ulster side face Roscommon in Croke Park on Saturday. Photograph: Inpho

Tyrone’s Mattie Donnelly. Ulster side face Roscommon in Croke Park on Saturday. Photograph: Inpho

 

SATURDAY

All-Ireland SFC Super-8 quarter-final, Group 2, phase 1

Roscommon v Tyrone, Croke Park, 5pm (Sky)

Mickey Harte told us he only got to see the first half of Roscommon’s red-hot match against Armagh in Portlaoise last Saturday evening, before readying his own Tyrone team for the slow dismantling of Cork: he’d have seen enough, Roscommon’s open and free-wheeling football ultimately seeing them first over the finish line.

With a quarter-final record bettered by none other than Kerry and Dublin, Tyrone have good reason to feel more comfortable at this stage, although given the importance of winning your first game in Super-8s, and the consequences of losing it, this will be a proper test of their mettle. Tyrone finished with 10 different scorers against Cork, Connor McAliskey bringing his summer tally to 2-26, Niall Sludden, Frank Burns and Colm Cavanagh looking menacing too.

Roscommon manager Kevin McStay has added Fintan Cregg and Cathal Compton to his starting 15, with little option: both came on as replacements against Armagh with good impact and Roscommon can’t afford to leave anything to chance here. Enda Smith had an awesome game, finishing with 2-1 but is guaranteed to get a lot more attention here, especially from the likes of Tiernan McCann.

Roscommon’s kick-outs are also likely to be pressed harder from Tyrone and it’s hard to see them scoring anything like the 2-22 they hit against Armagh, even in the open space of Croke Park they so crave. In the meantime, the relentless and grinding work rate of Tyrone should win out.

Verdict: Tyrone

Donegal v Dublin, Croke Park, 7pm (RTÉ 1)

The unfortunate injury to Patrick McBrearty has subdued Donegal’s rising hopes going into this but it would be careless for Dublin to overlook the general form of Declan Bonner’s team on their cruise through Ulster and the role played by others, like Jamie Brennan and Odhrán Mac Niallais – the team had 13 different scorers in the provincial final.

Jim Gavin has, though, over the years managed the progression from an uncompetitive provincial championship to the All-Ireland stages without mishap. Assisting him on this occasion will be the clearing of injury issues with just Bernard Brogan out of contention – plus John Small, who is suspended.

Bonner may have been interested in the difficulties occasionally posed for the Dublin defence by the early delivery into Donie Kingston in the Leinster final, as Donegal have options to pursue that but it’s a route that has never really led anywhere for Dublin’s opponents at the sharp end of the championship. Donegal’s pace and movement will have to be shepherded but that’s within the champions’ competence. Donegal will also be mindful that when Tyrone flattened the rest of Ulster last year, it proved poor preparation for meeting the champions. Donegal will do better but Dublin will win.

Verdict: Dublin

SUNDAY

All-Ireland SFC Super-8 quarter-final, Group 1, phase 1

Kildare v Monaghan, Croke Park, 2pm (Sky)

No one doubted that Kildare’s fire-starter of a win over Mayo was at least partly inspired by the Newbridge fixture saga, but their soft killing of Fermanagh last Saturday also proved it was no fluke. Whatever happens next Cian O’Neill has turned his team around and they may well be a few more twists yet.

Carlow manager Turlough O’Brien, whose team beat Kildare in Leinster for the first time since 1953, made the point this week that the Kildare talent and ability shines best when they’re on top; get on top of them and it’s another story. With the likes of Eoin Doyle, Paul Cribbin, Neil Flynn and Daniel Flynn just some of their shining lights against Fermanagh there’s no reason to doubt they can’t get on top here, especially in the open spaces of Croke Park. They took Fermanagh for three goals with the promise of more.

Monaghan have come through in more muted undertones, calmly putting Laois away in the first half last Sunday, with a spread of scorers that included Shane Carey, Karl O’Connell and goalkeeper Rory Beggan, which has taken some of the need and attention off Conor McManus. They’ll fancy Croke Park too, especially after the smothering they got from Fermanagh in the Ulster championship.

Manager Malachy O’Rourke admitted their lack of goals was a slight concern, given they produced six or seven chances, and if they allow Kildare to convert one or two here that could be difference.

Verdict: Kildare

Galway v Kerry, Croke Park, 4pm (Live, RTÉ 1)

This is the most intriguing match of the weekend in that it’s going to shed a solar flare of light on where both counties are at this stage. It’s a reflection of Galway’s previous inconsistency that they still have things to prove after an unbeaten regulation campaign in division one and a narrow defeat by Dublin in the final. The same apprehensions hover this weekend: will a hitherto rampant Kerry team hand out a season-altering annihilation? It didn’t happen in April and since then the Connacht champions have performed with a consistency they didn’t have in the previous two years. When Kerry dismissed Galway in last year’s quarter-finals Kieran Donaghy had a field day on David Walsh, who has been superseded at fullback by Seán Andy Ó Ceallaigh, arguably Galway’s player of the year so far. Ó Ceallaigh’s team-mates from last year’s under-21s have the reassurance that they defeated a highly rated Kerry in the semi-finals.

But Éamonn Fitzmaurice’s team are also improved by the integration of young players, forwards Seán O’Shea and David Clifford, especially. The pitch will suit Kerry’s pace and technique but Galway are also fast and skilful and with a tightening defensive structure. They do find scores harder to come by, though and that may be the difference.

Verdict: Kerry

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