Saturday's previews: Roscommon need to be at their best

Dublin look far too strong for Cork in their opening Super 8s match on Saturday evening

Tyrone’s Peter Harte: his  black-card suspension has been struck down.  Photograph:  Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Tyrone’s Peter Harte: his black-card suspension has been struck down. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

Roscommon v Tyrone,

Dr Hyde Park, 5pm

Live, Sky Sports

Much of what is expected of this match comes filtered through last year’s annihilation of Roscommon at the very same stage of the championship. Yet there are material differences. Under Anthony Cunningham they have won back the Connacht title, appear to have absorbed the lessons of a chastening quarter-final experience 12 months ago and, above all, have home advantage for the fixture.

Tyrone look as if they are travelling along the same trajectory, having disappointed in the championship before setting about the dismantling of outclassed teams in the qualifiers by an average of 10 rather than 7.5 points 12 months ago.

Further good news for Mickey Harte came with the striking down of nephew Peter’s black-card suspension – even if two remaining cards, against Donegal and Cavan, leave him on the verge of another ban – and they are at full strength.

Roscommon have been sturdier this summer, as indicated by two wins on the road in Castlebar and Salthill. In both cases they were, however, assisted by opposition failings, and this weekend’s opponents won’t be as accommodating.

In favour of the home side their centrefield of Tadhg O’Rourke and Shane Killoran gives them presence, and the form of Conor Cox up front has provided cut to their attack.

The big question remains: has their defensive improvement hit the level where they can contain Tyrone’s counter-attacks and keep the shackles on key forwards Cathal McShane and Harte?

With a decent crowd at the Hyde behind them they’re unlikely to be overwhelmed in the early stages, but it’s not certain that they can last the pace.

Verdict: Tyrone

Last meeting: All-Ireland quarter-final, phase 1, July 14th, 2018; Tyrone 4-24, Roscommon 2-12.

Just the ticket: Unreserved: adult €25; juveniles (U16) €5; students and senior citizens €20.

Odds: Roscommon 7/2, Tyrone 3/10, draw 9/1

Dublin v Cork

Croke Park, 7pm

Live, RTÉ 2

A funny fixture for Dublin in that during their current pomp they haven’t yet had to face Cork in championship play. Their last meeting, in a 2013 quarter-finals, was well contested and needed a fine goal from Jack McCaffrey to give them the breakthrough.

On the night Brian Hurley, in conjunction with Ciarán Sheehan, gave Dublin plenty of grief even though they were operating off short rations. Hurley is back playing impressively, and his goal threat is one of the big weapons for Cork.

Having not played within an ass’s roar of the standard required for last eight teams in the past few years, Ronan McCarthy’s team have emerged as a serious looking collective, even allowing for the status of the opponents they have beaten. Those wins, against Limerick and Laois, were thumping and more significantly the display against Kerry was their best in four years. They have exuberance and dynamism in the middle area, with Ian Maguire, Killian O’Hanlon and especially Ruairí Deane pile-driving through the middle.

This will be their most taxing appointment so far. Kerry’s defence was too compliant in Páirc Uí Chaoimh and the team in general didn’t sustain tempo in the way that the champions can be expected to do.

Jim Gavin has his own conundrums to ponder: will he field both the fit-again Dean Rock and this season’s top forward Cormac Costello? Maybe it can be done in James McCarthy’s absence by shifting Brian Howard. If Jonny Cooper remains out, what is the best configuration for defence?

No matter how well Cork re-enter orbit here, the champions will be expected to have the answers.

Verdict: Dublin

Last meeting: All-Ireland quarter-final, August 3rd, 2013; Dublin 1-16, Cork 0-14.

Just the ticket: Unreserved: adult €25; juveniles (U16) €5; students and senior citizens €20.

Odds: Dublin 1/33, Cork 12/1, draw 33/1

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