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If you look at how Donegal played last week against Derry, they still found an answer when they needed it most thanks to a Paddy McBrearty point right at the death to win it. I’ve spoken to a few people in the game this year about Derry and they have been seriously impressed with Rory Gallagher’s men, so that was a good win for Donegal.
On the flip side, I believe Tyrone will have learned a lot from their horrible trip to Killarney in the National League. Brian Dooher has come in as joint manager this year and I know he wants them playing more forward-thinking football, but The Red Hands will still be hurting from the beating they got that say against Kerry. But, I reckon they’ll have learned a bit from that game too. However, they are currently without the services of full-back Ronan McNamee after he was sent off against Cavan and the outcome of his appeal could have a huge baring on this match.
You did see Donegal have to rely on Michael Murphy again to help sway the game in their favour against Derry last weekend though, despite the fact he is clear struggling with injury. His fitness for this contest is also a massive issue for Declan Bonner’s men.
Things look a little more rosy on that front for Tyrone, as Cathal McShane continues his comeback from an ankle injury. He is key player for Tyrone and when he plays, he is probably an All-Star nominee every year he appears at intercounty level. His return to the side makes me fancy Tyrone to shade this game on Sunday.
Kildare are hot favourites to beat Westmeath in this Leinster semi-final on Sunday and, of course, I know their manager Jack O’Connor very well. He is a shrew operator that’s for sure. He was the first manager to every drop me for Kerry, so I know better than most he won’t be afraid to make changes to win a game! The Lilywhites are playing much more open football now under O’Connor and they certainly have players to hurt most counties on their day.
But, I’ve watched Westmeath closely this term and they beat Laois by 16 points last time out. Their full forward line alone kicked 1-13 that day and I believe Westmeath to come out on top here is one of the best bets of the entire weekend.
Westmeath will probably say to themselves that they’ve got nothing to lose in this game, let’s throw off the shackles and give it everything to get into a Leinster final. They clearly have the forwards to trouble Kildare, and this really has the makings of a great game.
There is a small bit of pressure on Meath boss Andy McEntee heading into this game, especially with the departure of Bernard Flynn as the Meath U20 boss recently. That left a bit of a sour taste around The Royals camp. Wexford keeping Dublin’s margin of victory to just eight points in the opening Championship game for The Dubs is probably not a good thing Meath either.
There was a lot of talk in GAA circles about that performance and also the current situation regarding Stephen Cluxton’s future, so you do have a lot of pundits trying to pick holes in the six-in-a-row All-Ireland champions. But, I believe Dessie Farrell will be sitting at home now thinking ‘this is exactly what I need to light the fire under my guys’.
We all know the calibre of player that they possess, and I’d rather judge Dublin on their meeting with Kerry in the National League this season. When The Dubs really want to turn it on, they certainly can do that as we saw that day in Thurles. Meath put up 4-22 against Longford and you have to say they’ve come on a long way, but Dublin have had a lot of daggers put into them in the last few weeks and I believe we’ll see a big backlash from the All-Ireland holders here.
With the likes of Ciaran Kilkenny, Brian Fenton and Con O’Callaghan in their side, Dublin have game winners all over the field and I can see them beating the 11-point handicap on offer here.
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