Eircom Football Championship Preview 5 years ago

Eircom Football Championship Preview

With some of the best-known names in the game on hand to help, one of the GAA heads in the JOE office tries his hand at predicting a monster of a weekend in the Gaelic Football Championship.

There can’t have been too many people who plumped for a draw in the Connacht semi-final between London and Leitrim at the weekend and as we didn’t either, our perfect run of predictions in the last two weeks came to an abrupt halt.

Nostradamus himself would struggle to forecast every single winner in the 12 games taking place this weekend and to be honest about it, we’d be happy enough with a 75 per cent success rate.

We reckon that most people would be happy enough with that as far as the eircom Win, Lose or Draw game is concerned because this weekend is likely to have a big effect on the various leaderboards and the identity of the wise sage who eventually ends up winning the pair of All-Ireland Final tickets that are up for grabs.

If you’re not already in the JOE Win, Lose or Draw League, first of all give yourself a slap in the face and then go and enter it via the experience more website. Simply click on this link, enter the code CTYVG and it’s game on.

Now, without further ado and with some added insight from some high-profile eircom ambassadors, here’s how we think this weekend’s games are going to go down.

Leinster semi-finals

Meath v Wexford

Meath and Wexford are both under new management this year and both have altered their traditional playing style to an extent. While Meath have shaken up their personnel a bit, a lot of the old heads that have guided Wexford to pretty good things in the last few years are still around, and if the victory over Louth is anything to go by, still playing well.

Meath are slight favourites for this one and have plenty of pace in the attack as well as options on the bench in the form of Joe Sheridan et al, but we think Wexford will have too much nous and emerge on top in a close one at Croker.

JOE Prediction: Wexford

Dublin v Kildare

Sunday’s game could tell us a lot about where these teams are at right now. Are Dublin deserved All-Ireland favourites? Are Kildare worthy of a place at the top table or are they a long way off the much-hyped top six in Ireland at the moment?

Kildare’s half-forward line looks potent but they could be as busy stopping Dublin’s half-back line attacking as they will be looking for scores at the other end and they don’t appear to really have a goal-scoring threat. Dublin ooze class all over the pitch and if the lads starting aren’t doing the business, they have a wealth of talent and experience on the bench. Dublin by a comfortable margin for us.

Like most observers, former Dubs midfielder Ciaran Whelan is going for his home county to take it.

“I think it’s a massive day for Kildare in Kieran McGeeney’s sixth year in charge and that heavy defeat in the league. Kildare’s problems surround their mental approach rather than their physical approach,” Whelan says.

“Dublin were very impressive against Westmeath. Jim Gavin has committed to an attacking style of football and its going to be interesting to see how Kildare cope with it. I think since these two teams met in 2011 the gap has widened a small bit.

“Dublin have a team that won an All Ireland backed up with a league win and with a lot of youthful players coming through. Kildare have players coming through too but looking at where both teams are it, Dublin look too strong.”

JOE Prediction: Dublin

Ulster semi-final

Monaghan v Cavan

Cavan have rightly attracted a lot of praise so far this season but Monaghan are a side full of seasoned championship campaigners and it was illustrated by Wexford in Leinster that it is dangerous to underestimate a side that have been there and done it.

As it was for Fermanagh, stopping Keating, Dunne and Mackey will be a concern for Monaghan, but they have far more class in attack than Peter Canavan’s men and that could be the difference. Monaghan to win in a tight one.

The winners of this game will face Michael Murphy’s Donegal in the Ulster Final, but he can’t quite pick who’s going to come out on top and thinks they might have to do it all over again.

Eugene Keating celebrates scoring a point 16/6/2013

Cavan will again look to Eugene Keating for inspiration up front

“I genuinely believe this game is too close to call. It’s a local rivalry to start with and a lot of boys would know each other from college and work and things like that,” Murphy says.

“You’re looking at Monaghan’s impressive league campaign and their win over Fermanagh while Cavan are a young squad with fresh ideas and serious momentum behind them.

"Both teams have defensive set ups but Cavan have forwards like Dunne and Keating while Monaghan can rely on Finlay, McManus, Hughes and McGuinness. I just have a feeling it’s a game that will do down to the wire and could possibly go to a replay.”

JOE Prediction: Monaghan

Connacht semi-final replay

Leitrim v London

Did London pass up their best chance of a Connacht Final the last day? Will Emlyn Mulligan be fit enough to return to the Leitrim attack? If he is we expect Leitrim to win but London showed that playing outside of Ruislip holds no fear for them and even though Hyde Park is hardly neutral given the distance they have to travel, they’ll be competitive again on Sunday.

Roscommon sharpshooter Donie Shine knows an awful lot about the Connacht Championship and he feels that London may live to regret a missed opportunity last weekend.

“It was a draw the first day but I think London have had their chance,” Donie says.

“They’ve a few injuries and it’s not easy to get back over for the second weekend in a row. On the Leitrim side of things I hear Emlyn Mulligan is struggling but I think they’ll be too strong in the replay.

Initially when I saw there was a replay I thought it would be on in Ruislip and it would be London’s game to lose there. Leitrim will be well used to ‘The Hyde’ so I fancy them to come through it now.”

JOE Prediction: Leitrim

All-Ireland qualifiers

Carlow v Laois

Regardless of whether tonight’s clash is a good one or not, it will be historic because it’ll the first to be played on a Friday night. Laois would be favourites under normal circumstances but the manner of their defeat to Louth coupled with some high-profile departures from the panel and home advantage for Carlow means they won’t have it easy at Dr. Cullen Park.

That said, it was only last season that they ran Dublin close in an All-Ireland quarter-final and we still reckon they’ll do enough to get by.

Knowing both sides well and knowing the Carlow manager particularly well, Kildare’s Johnny Doyle is tipping Laois to prevail under Friday night sunlight. Just.

“A hesitant vote for Laois. It might even be seen as a bit of an upset if it happens,” Doyle says.

“I’d know a good bit of what’s going on through Anthony Rainbow and I know what kind of effort has gone into Carlow in the last 12 months under his reign. They’ll be well drilled in what they’re about and what they want to do. Laois had a big defeat against Louth and they lost the likes of Brendan Quigley & Kevin Meaney. If you couple that with having to head to Dr. Cullen Park it’s going to be tough for them. Despite that they might just have the personnel to be that little bit too strong for Carlow.

“From Anthony Rainbow’s playing days I would’ve seen him as a perfectionist in his own game and his attitude to training. He’s just phenomenal when it comes to getting the very best out of your body. I know there was a couple of occasions over the winter where he brought the Carlow squad for a bit of a run in the Curragh. One or two lads couldn’t make it on the Saturday so he brought them on the Sunday himself.

“There was no excuse – you either want to do this or you don’t. That builds character through a team and I just know that if he can bring some of that application across to his players, then Carlow are definitely on the right road. Whether that’s good enough to topple Laois? Not yet.”

JOE Prediction: Laois

Offaly v Tyrone

Kilkenny and Waterford in the hurling and Kildare and Tyrone in the football, there has been nothing easy as far as Offaly GAA supporters are concerned, but they have reasons for encouragement in both codes. Tyrone will be too strong for them this weekend, but they would be wise to trust in Emmet McDonnell because they could well have a bright future ahead.

JOE Prediction: Tyrone

Westmeath v Fermanagh

Westmeath had plenty of momentum going into the game against Dublin but that was brought to a shuddering half after a limp display at headquarters. Kerry can testify, however, how hard they are to beat on their own turf and with Fermanagh looking toothless in attack against Cavan, Pat Flanagan’s men should prevail.

JOE Prediction: Westmeath

Louth v Antrim

The defeat against Wexford was a setback but it was only a narrow one and Louth are a team going places under Aidan O’Rourke. Antrim, if truth be told, were very poor against Monaghan and their lack of a scoring threat pales in comparison to the attacking options possessed by the Wee County. A convincing win for Louth, we think.

JOE Prediction: Louth

Galway v Tipperary

Both Galway and Tipperary offered futile resistance against the heavyweight challenges of Mayo and Kerry respectively and they were probably glad they drew each other rather than a side coming off the back of a narrow defeat first time out.

Ordinarily, you’d fancy Galway on home turf but after such a limp display against Mayo and some players leaving the camp, Tipp will feel they’re there for the taking. Still, Galway’s horrendous qualifier record has to come to end sooner or later and we think it will this weekend.

Colm Cooper wasn’t very impressed with what he saw of Galway against Mayo, but he is backing them to get one over a Tipperary outfit who Gooch’s Kerry defeated comprehensively a few weeks back.

Michael Meehan 20/5/2012

With Michael Meehan around, there's hope for a Galway side reeling from defeat to Mayo

“I was amazed we beat Tipperary so comprehensively. 12 months ago we had a right battle and they could have beaten us up in Thurles. Maybe it was a combination of them having a bad day and us playing quite well in Killarney. They’ve made progress and I think it’s going to be close on Saturday.

“The disappointing thing from a Galway point of view is that they just lay down and didn’t throw caution to the wind against Mayo in any way. They waved the white flag a little early for my liking.

“I’m not too sure where they’re going to be at, but they’re playing in Salthill and surely there’s been a few hard questions asked. I’d be hopeful that Galway will come back with some sort of fight in them and get over the line against Tipperary.”

JOE Prediction: Galway

Longford v Limerick

These sides played out a thrilling qualifier tie that went to extra-time last year but morale may well be low in both camps after demoralising defeats in their opening Championship games. This one is a very tough one to call but the Treaty men have more Championship experience in recent years and we fancy them to prevail but only by the odd point or two.

JOE Prediction: Limerick

Armagh v Wicklow

Armagh came in for a hell of a lot of criticism following their defeat to Cavan and a clash against a Wicklow side who managed a draw in the Athletic Grounds two years ago will be a test of character as much as anything else. Survive that and they should have too much class for Harry Murphy’s men.

Mickey Harte is well enamoured with Armagh teams from over the years and despite a poor showing against Cavan, he’s backing them to get their campaign back on track.

“Another case of redemption required,” says Harte.

“Armagh played Cavan and were castigated for the fact that they played too open with too much of an attack minded style, which appeared to backfire because Cavan took them for a lot of scores from the inside men. I think they probably will have re-adjusted with a covering defender at least to help with the inside men.

“Wicklow had a good game against Meath and will but come up with a lot of confidence. They actually drew with Armagh two years ago and brought them back to Aughrim but Armagh should have enough quality at home to make it to the next round.”

JOE Prediction: Armagh

Derry v Sligo

Sligo must have been in a bad place following defeat to London last time out and although they lost to Down, there were plenty of positives to take from what was a cracking game in Celtic Park. We fancy Brian McIver’s men to take this one with a bit to spare.

JOE Prediction: Derry

If you still need a little help with your predictions meanwhile, here's a table of how all the eircom ambassadors think the weekend's games are going to go down.

AMBASSADOR:

Donie Shine

Johnny Doyle

Mickey Harte

Ciaran Whelan

Colm Cooper

Michael Murphy

Carlow v Laois

Laois

Laois

Laois

Laois

Laois

Laois

Offaly v Tyrone

Tyrone

Tyrone

Tyrone

Tyrone

Tyrone

Tyrone

Louth v Antrim

Louth

Louth

Louth

Louth

Louth

Louth

Westmeath v Fermanagh

Fermanagh

Westmeath

Westmeath

DRAW

Westmeath

Westmeath

Longford v Limerick

Longford

Longford

Longford

Limerick

Longford

Limerick

Galway v Tipperary

Galway

Tipperary

Galway

Galway

Galway

Galway

Monaghan v Cavan

Monaghan

Monaghan

Monaghan

Monaghan

Monaghan

DRAW

Meath v Wexford

Wexford

Wexford

Wexford

Meath

Wexford

Wexford

Armagh v Wicklow

Armagh

Armagh

Armagh

Armagh

Armagh

Armagh

London v Leitrim

Leitrim

London

London

Leitrim

Leitrim

Leitrim

Dublin v Kildare

Dublin

Kildare

Dublin

Dublin

Dublin

Dublin

Derry v Sligo

Derry

Derry

Derry

Derry

Derry

Derry

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