This is what it’s all about. This is what the Super 8s were made for. This is why amateur players sacrifice their summers. All for a dead rubber in August with both teams certain they will be playing for the last time in this season’s All Ireland. To make matters worse, there has been a two-week gap between this game and the last round of Super 8 fixtures, prolonging the agony of players who surely would have appreciated an early summer holiday.
Aside from this slight hiccup, however, it has been a relatively successful summer for both sides. Roscommon won back the provincial crown they lost to Galway last year and beat Mayo in Castlebar along the way.
Cork, meanwhile, have played a swashbuckling brand of football and made the Super 8s despite most expecting them to bow out at the hands of Tipperary in Munster. As it transpired, they didn’t even play Tipp due to Limerick’s shock win over the Premier County.
In Croke Park against Dublin and Tyrone, Cork gave a very good account for themselves and were hard done by in the 13-point defeat to Dublin. Roscommon were less impressive against Dublin and were well and truly beaten after half an hour.
With the shackles off for both teams, we should have a high-scoring game on our hands. There is genuinely no need whatsoever for a defensive approach, and if either side employs a defensive system, their place in next year’s All Ireland should be called into question.
Cork have proved to have one of the most devastating attacks in the country this season, and with nothing to play for they should rack up a high score.
Does this game really matter? Yes, it does. Just look at Galway’s limp defeat in the All Ireland semi-final last year after they rested players against Monaghan in the final round of Super 8 games.
The Westerners lost all momentum, which didn’t help when they were swept aside by Dublin in Croke Park.
By the time Dublin travel to Omagh, they will know exactly who they will face in the All Ireland semi-final if they win the group. But they will also not care who they play in an All Ireland semi-final, as they rightly think they are good enough to beat anyone.
Similarly, Tyrone would be confident in an All Ireland semi-final against anyone and what is more important for Tyrone is that they make Dublin doubt themselves.
Dublin have won the last five championship meetings between these two, dating back to the All Ireland quarter final in 2010 and including three wins in the last two championships.
Their wins in last year’s All Ireland final and 2017’s semi-final were particularly emphatic and Tyrone will desperately want to avoid another humbling.
That said, both teams will probably rest players with an All Ireland semi-final just a week away and neither will want to show too much of their hand seeing as they could potentially meet in an All Ireland final.
Expect shadow boxing on Sunday, with both teams perhaps resting one or two key players to avoid risking injury ahead of next weekend. Tyrone’s need for a victory is far greater than Dublin’s and the All Ireland champion’s record-breaking 33-game unbeaten run in the All Ireland might, just might, come to an end.
*All odds correct at time of posting