Tyrone: Mickey Harte’s men won back-to-back Ulster titles thanks to wins over Derry (0-22 to 0-11), Donegal (1-21 to 1-12) and Down (2-17 to 0-15). All three were very straightforward successes and no team has come close to challenging their route to Croke Park. They had 11 individual scorers in that success over Down and Ronan O’Neill’s two goals off the bench proved the difference and killed off the Down charge.
Armagh: Armagh have gathered a head of steam in the qualifiers and their recent victories over Tipperary and Kildare were very easy on the eye. It was their second-half displays in both of those that was most impressive. Jamie Clarke was the star of the show in last weekend’s win over the Lilywhites with his four points from play earning him the Man of the Match award on Sky Sports.
Verdict: Tyrone did not concede any more than 15 points during their successful Ulster voyage and Armagh might not have enough ammunition to surpass that total either. Tyrone have a seriously effective system – they defend in packs and attack in packs – and the Ulster champions should have far too much power for Kieran McGeeney’s men.
Dublin: All-Ireland Champions Dublin have been in flying form in 2017, only losing once (to Kerry, National League Final) and it looks as though the production line is still rolling in the capital with Con O’Callaghan the latest production. The Cuala star scored 12 points in the Leinster final against Kildare and was virtually unmarkable, while legends like Bernard Brogan continue to perform in front of the Hill.
Monaghan: Monaghan suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Down in the Ulster Semi Final, but they have bounced back to form since, beating Wexford, Carlow and Down on their route to the All-Ireland Quarter Final. The midfield partnership of Kieran and Darren Hughes continue to lead this Monaghan team, while Conor McManus bounced back to top-form against Down notching 10 points.
Verdict: Dublin have waltzed their way to another All Ireland Quarter Final and have looked unstoppable all over the field throughout. They have been consistently tight in defence, only conceding late against Kildare in the Leinster final, and Monaghan have been far from dangerous in front of goal, preferring to take long distance points. Aside from their qualifier defeat of Wexford, they have failed to score more than one goal in all of their games so far. It should be a similar scenario on Saturday evening against a solid Dublin defence.
Galway: Galway were the ultimate professionals dismantling Wexford in the Leinster Final, and they will be looking to gain revenge following last year’s narrow one-point loss to Tipperary at this same stage. Joseph and Conor Cooney were outstanding for the Tribesman in the Leinster Final, notching 13 points between them, and they looked solid at the back throughout. Galway have posted massive scores throughout the championship (2-28 against Dublin, 0-33 against Offaly and 29 points against Wexford) but they are unlikely to receive the same freedom against a solid Tipperary defence.
Tipperary: Reigning All Ireland champions Tipperary have bounced back to form since their shock early exit from the Munster Championship, registering 6-26 against Dublin in the process, and their star names are starting to shine at the right time of the year. Their forwards were well on top against Clare in the quarter final, but some sloppy defending allowed Clare back into the game that day. The return to the open spaces of Croke Park will suit the Tipperary forwards, and expect John McGrath, Seamus Callanan and John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer to do damage up front.
Verdict: The last two meetings between these two sides have been phenomenal encounters, and while Galway will look to gain revenge for last year’s defeat, Tipperary look to have too much firepower up front this year and Galway may struggle to hold them. The trio of McGrath, Callanan and ‘Bubbles’ have been unstoppable and while it’s bound to be a shootout between two classy forward lines, Tipperary look to have the stronger hand of the two and can take a further step towards retaining their All Ireland crown.