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13th May 2010

Cork on course for All-Ireland breakthrough

JOE’s Gaelic football analyst Ciaran Whelan puts his neck on the block with tips for the four provinces – and his outright selection for the All-Ireland.


JOE’s Gaelic football analyst Ciaran Whelan puts his neck on the block with tips for the four provinces – and his outright selection for the All-Ireland.


Obviously in Munster the standard-bearers are Cork and they look well ahead of the rest. I don’t think Kerry will get it as easy against Tipperary as some people might think. Tipperary are improving bit by bit every year, colleges’ football down there is getting very good and John Evans is doing a great job. They’ve beaten Kerry in a lot of college games and Kerry traditionally don’t get it going until August. Ultimately Kerry probably will be too good for them and that would set up a semi-final against Cork but it would be surprising if Cork don’t win that.

On the other side of the draw there’s an opportunity for a novel team to get to a provincial final. Waterford or Clare have been improving in the League and Limerick will fancy their chances of getting to a final but I expect Cork to go through the front door. They’ve no appetite for the back door, they’ll want to stay on the clear path to Croke Park.

Verdict: Cork


The draw is a bit lop-sided, with Dublin, Meath, Laois, Offaly and Wexford all on one side which leaves Kildare on the other side against lesser teams. You would expect them to get to a Leinster final.

I would think Dublin will also get there. I don’t expected Wexford to put up much opposition and while Meath will be looking to build on last year when they got to an All-Ireland semi-final, I don’t think they have the defence to put it up to Dublin so I would expect a Dublin-Kildare final, which would be interested as a rematch of last year.

I would expect Dublin to go on to win a sixth Leinster title in a row. Having said that, it wouldn’t be a major problem for them if get caught. Going into the qualifiers would set them another challenge of getting victories on the road and various different grounds. They managed that during the League so if they have to go through the back-door it might be no bad thing.

Verdict: Dublin


Ulster is the most competitive province of the lot. Tyrone seem to have come back to the pack a bit, Down and Armagh are making progress, Monaghan would have been happy with their League campaign and Derry have always been there or thereabouts, so it’s definitely the hardest to call of the four provinces.

I have a sneaking suspicion for Derry this year. They won the League two years ago and got to a League final last year, and they didn’t benefit from it. They may have eased up a bit in the League this year in order to peak for the Championship so if they can put it together they have a great chance.

Fergal Doherty of Derry is one of the game’s most accomplished midfielders

On the face of it, with lads like the Bradley brothers, James Kielt and Fergal Doherty, they have one of the best teams in the country. They haven’t delivered over the past few years come Championship time, but they could be waiting in the long grass this year. If they get over Armagh at Celtic Park on Sunday it will give them confidence and momentum and although they have a difficult draw, they could be the dark horses to take Ulster.

On the other side of the draw, Tyrone may not be quite ready to win another Ulster but I certainly wouldn’t write them off. They’re hurting up there and we haven’t seen the last of them, but I’d possibly see a Derry-Down final, with Derry coming out on top.

Verdict: Derry


There’s potential for  an upset in the Sligo-Mayo game, especially if Mayo haven’t recovered from the League final defeat to Cork. However, I think they’ll do enough there and they’ll play Galway in a Connacht semi-final. I’m sure Galway are just breathing a sigh of relief after their performance in New York. Mayo have had the form all year and while they didn’t deliver in Croke Park, they don’t seem to have any problems in Connacht. The last few weeks will have been difficult for them but they can bounce back to win another Connacht title.

Verdict: Mayo


Tyrone look to have fallen back a bit but will still be a force to be reckoned with, even if they come up short in Ulster. Kerry have lost so many players from last year and they’ll be very hard to replace. You can never write off the Kingdom and I wouldn’t rule them out, but Cork are a fair bit ahead of the rest on form so they’ll take all the beating this year and they look the best bet.

Verdict: Cork