Monaghan v Down
Down: Got the better of Monaghan (1-14 to 0-15) on the way to reaching the Ulster final. No match for Tyrone there and could have no complaints about their 2-17 to 0-15 defeat. They were simply outclassed. Darragh O’Hanlon scored four points, Caolan Mooney got three from play and Ryan Johnston picked off a brace of points in the provincial decider and much of the responsibility for scores will rest on the shoulders of that talented trio.
Monaghan: The final scoreline of 1-12 to 1-7 does not reflect the size of the scare given to Monaghan by Carlow in the last round of the qualifiers at Dr Cullen Park. When Gary Kelly hit the net for Carlow in the 49th minute, it put them two points up. Monaghan grinded out a narrow win but they are not playing well. They were deservedly dumped out of the Ulster championship by Down (1-14 to 0-15) and it was only their wide-margin win over Wexford (3-23 to 1-11) which made them look like genuine All-Ireland contenders. Verdict: Down do not score goals, it’s as simple as that. They only got three in seven league outings in Division 2 and failed to find the net against Armagh and Tyrone in the Ulster championship. Their sole goal during their surprise voyage to the provincial decider was a penalty, dubiously awarded during the second-half of their win over Monaghan. Malachy O’Rourke’s charges have huffed and puffed in 2017 but have yet to blow any house down. Perhaps a return to Croke Park can spur on the Farney army.
Bet: No Down goal at 5/4
Kerry v Galway
Kerry: The Kingdom are currently the Division 1 league champions and Munster champions. The brushed aside familiar foes Cork with the minimum of fuss at Killarney in the provincial decider on a scoreline of 1-23 to 0-15. James O’Donoghue appears to be back at the peak of his powers and has scored 0-16 in his two Munster outings so far, while Paul Geaney is one of the front-runners in the Footballer of the Year market.
Galway: Suffered a surprise reversal in the Connacht decider at the hands of Roscommon but bounced back with a devastating back door display against Donegal. A superb first half performance laid the foundations for a facile for a 4-17 to 0-14 victory. Johnny Heaney got two of those goals from midfield, while Sean Armstrong was on song with six points.
Verdict: This game has goals written all over it. Galway managed to find the net four times against Donegal last Saturday evening, who would have expected that beforehand? Johnny Heaney ghosted forward from midfield to get two of those and the Tribesmen have lots of talent up front. Kerry’s weakest line is their full-back line and Galway could exploit that. The flip side of that is Galway’s defence, while looked fragile in the loss to Roscommon. James O’Donoghue and Paul Geaney have the potential to do serious damage and, while Kerry only found the net once in their wins over Clare and Cork, expect them to be more clinical on this occasion.
Mayo v Roscommon
Mayo: Have stumbled to yet another All-Ireland quarter-final and victory over Roscommon would see them reach the last four for the seventh year on the trot. Were lucky to escape unscatched from their duels with Derry and Cork and needed extra-time to get over both. They have certainly been more workmanlike than impressive thus far. Their one shining light has been Cillian O’Connor who is well on his way to be crowned the championship’s top scorer as he has managed to accumulate 2-40 in five games, an average of 9.2 points per game.
Roscommon: May have been on the easy side of the draw in Connacht and only had to see off Leitrim to get to the provincial decider, but the Rossies were ruthless in their win over Galway and full value for their nine-point win – 2-15 to 0-12. Enda Smith was the star of that show from midfield, getting the Man of the Match award on The Sunday Game, and it will be interesting to see how Mayo cope with his runs from deep.
Verdict: On a strict form line through Galway, Roscommon should be hot favourites for this All-Ireland quarter-final. The Rossies had nine points to spare over the Tribesmen in the Connacht final whereas Mayo lost out by a point to them in the provincial semi-final. But it might not work out like that. This Mayo team is made for Croke Park and, with Cillian O’Connor and Aidan O’Shea beginning to hit top form, last year’s beaten All-Ireland finals could issue their first statement of intent in 2017.
Bet: Mayo -3 at 10/11