We are now approaching the business end of the All-Ireland Football Championship.
After this weekend, we will know what four teams will be joining the Provincial Champions in the Super 8’s.
Last weekend, Mayo, Tyrone, Laois and Clare booked their places in the last round of the Football Qualifiers, where they now face the beaten Provincial finalists.
On Saturday evening, there is another Sky Sports Double Header. At 5pm, Cavan take on Tyrone in Clones. Afterwards, at 7pm, old foes Mayo and Galway travel to the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick for a huge knockout Championship match.
Also on Saturday, Laois and Cork meet in Thurles (5pm). While on Sunday Meath and Clare face off in O’Moore Park, Portlaoise (2pm).
Meanwhile there are two All-Ireland Hurling Preliminary Quarter-Finals on Sunday. Cork travel to Cusack Park, Mullingar, to take on Westmeath (3pm). Fresh from capturing the Joe McDonagh Cup in Croker last Sunday, Laois play host to Dublin in O’Moore Park, Portlaoise (4:15pm).
All-Ireland Football Qualifier Round 4 – Cavan v Tyrone (Throw-in @ 5pm, live on Sky Sports Arena, on 06/07):
This is another all-Ulster championship clash in this season’s qualifiers.
These two teams come into this game on the back of contrasting results. Cavan were beaten in the Ulster decider by Donegal, and they will need to pick themselves up again for another tough game against strong Ulster opposition.
Tyrone, on the other hand – who were also beaten by Declan Bonner’s charges in Ulster – have since recovered with qualifier wins against Longford and last time out they had a very impressive result in Newbridge against Kildare.
For me, the momentum is very much with the Red Hand Men at the moment. I was very impressed with their forwards against Kildare. They kicked some brilliant scores and the Lilywhites defenders just couldn’t handle their movement.
— The GAA (@officialgaa) June 29, 2019
Peter Harte in particular was brilliant against Kildare. It is worth noting that he was black-carded early on in Tyrone’s disappointing exit from Ulster. That really wouldn’t of helped Tyrone’s cause that day as he is one of their star players.
This is a massive challenge for Cavan, but there have been encouraging signs for Mickey Graham’s men so far in the Championship. Taking out the Ulster Final – where they were beaten by the better team – they knocked two good sides in Monaghan and Armagh out of Ulster.
The likes of Conor Moynagh, Gearóid McKiernan, Dara McVeety and super-sub Cian Mackey will all have to continue their impressive form, if they are to cause a big shock in Clones on Saturday evening.
It has been well documented how Tyrone have reverted to their more defensive running game during their journey through the qualifiers. It suits Mickey Harte’s men to play that way when they are playing against teams that aren’t as physically strong and well conditioned as they are. I think they will have too much for Cavan playing this way also.
Cavan have the capacity to make this game competitive for long periods, but I fancy Tyrone to pull away in the end and cover the -3 handicap.
Verdict: Tyrone -3 (Handicap Betting) @ 4/5
All-Ireland Football Qualifier Round 4 – Galway v Mayo (Throw-in @ 7pm, live on Sky Sports Arena, on 06/07):
This encounter marks the first knock-out championship game between Mayo and Galway in more than 20 years.
Both of these Connacht rivals have been ravaged by injuries which makes this game even more fascinating.
Mayo’s win against Armagh – in what was a classic in Castlebar – came at a cost, in relation to their growing injury concerns. Key defender Lee Keegan looks certain to miss this game with damaged ankle ligaments. There is also reports that Brendan Harrison, Jason Doherty and midfield powerhouse Aiden O’Shea are all injury doubts after the Armagh clash last Saturday evening.
One bit of good news for James Horan though, is the fact that Cillian O’Connor is back to full fitness. He came on against Armagh, but I expect him to start this weekend, especially when you consider how lengthy Mayo’s injury list is.
Galway have had their injury problems as well this season. Key players Damien Comer and Paul Conroy have played no part the year. Although there have been reports that Comer has been lining out for his club Annaghdown so he couldn’t be too far away.
Galway have certainly had the Indian Sign over Mayo in recent years. Their defensive game suits playing against Mayo as James Horan’s charges prefer a much more open game.
I think this will be a really close game because of the way Galway set up. I think where Mayo can get a foothold in this game is at midfield. If Aiden O’Shea is passed fit and if Donal Vaughan partners him there, they should be too strong and battle-hardened for Galway’s midfield of Tom Flynn and Fiontán Ó Curraoin.
Darren Coen has been shooting the lights out in recent games and if Coen, Cillian O’Connor, Andy Moran and Kevin McLoughlin can click in the forward line, they should be able to get enough scores to get Mayo over the line in this one.
Darren Coen has gold in them bootspic.twitter.com/NNEXabCTcO
— GAA JOE (@GAA__JOE) June 29, 2019
Verdict: Mayo @ Evens
(Saturday 6th of July – Sunday 7th of July)
All-Ireland Football Qualifiers Round 4:
All-Ireland Hurling Preliminary Quarter-Finals: