More physical Mayo to prevail
This coming weekend there are interesting matches in all four provinces. I feel that we should have games in every province going on every Sunday which would give counties shorter gaps between games and would mean that the championship was played off quicker.
The big game this weekend is the clash between Galway and Mayo in Pearse Stadium. A lot of people have been predicting that Mayo will be on the decline this year and that this will be a great opportunity for Galway, but I am not so sure about that.
While I will be very interested to see what Mayo team is selected I am expecting that it will along the lines of that which we saw last year.
I still believe that Mayo will be too strong for Galway. There is always a doubt when a new management team comes on the scene and there is a strange silence coming from this Mayo camp. But, player for player, they look stronger than Galway to me.
The loss of Shane Walsh will be huge for Galway as he is very much a championship player and he always seems to produce the goods in the big games. Galway seem to adopting a more defensive style this year and they could get caught between this new way of playing and their normal attacking style. By all accounts they were none to impressive against Leitrim.
It has to be Mayo for me because they are too powerful and physical for Galway.
In the other big game of the weekend I am looking forward to a very tough, tight, tense and physical battle between Armagh and Donegal.
Armagh made great strides in the qualifiers last year but so far this year they have not looked as impressive. But I am sure they will have trained hard behind closed doors and they will come up with a proper game plan under Kieran McGeeney.
Whether they have enough quality players to defeat Donegal remains to be seen. Donegal on the other hand have a lot of experience and they have top class players like Michael Murphy, Karl Lacey and Paddy McBrearty and I would expect them to get through what will be a tough battle.
Let us not forget that looking at the weekend games that Donegal and Mayo are in positions three and four in the pecking order to win the All-Ireland.
Elsewhere Kerry might have to survive some anxious moments against an improving Tipperary side. But it would be a huge ask for this young Tipp side to beat the All-Ireland champions.
In the other semi-final I expect an average Cork side to be too strong for Clare.
In Leinster I will be expecting wins for Meath and Westmeath. Laois probably should have beaten Kildare last Saturday and they look a more natural football team than Kildare and I expect that their superior forward power will get them through this Saturday.
Strong get stronger,
weak get weaker
Last Monday morning the draw for the first round of the football qualifiers took place and I just wonder why the GAA have changed the rule that existed up to a few years ago when the weaker counties got the home draw. Indeed this rule led to some exciting matches and some shock results.
But the bigger mafia in the GAA obviously got their way and we are still left with an open draw, with the first team out getting home advantage. It looks to me that the GAA want the stronger counties to get stronger and the weaker counties to get weaker.
Imagine the task facing the Limerick manager trying to prepare his players for a daunting trip away to Tyrone.
Finally congratulations to the Roscommon hurlers on their dramatic win against Armagh in the Nicky Rackard Cup final last Saturday in Croke Park. The winning goal was a marvellous strike from Micheal Kelly and it was worthy of winning any game.
Roscommon now face a big challenge against Mayo in a curtain-raiser to the Mayo v Galway game next Sunday. A win would be great and would allow them to play at a higher level next year. We wish them the best of luck.