I dunno about the rest of you, but it seems to me like this holiday has been going on for an absolute age. Just as well, then, that FourGoal McGee is back with another guest piece and this time he casts his eye over the remaining contenders for this year’s All-Ireland as we start to approach the business end of the summer campaign.
At this stage of the year, with 17 counties left in the hunt for Sam, the draw for the remaining qualifiers gives us a chance to look at who will be in the shake-up by mid August. Taking each in turn, I would expect them to go as follows:
1. Limerick/Waterford vs Wexford
Based on what I have seen so far, I don’t think we have seen the last of Wexford this year. They are solid in defence and they have a good inside forward line. As well as that, they have a good free-taker.
2. Tyrone/Armagh/Wicklow vs Mayo/Roscommon
I expect Mayo to beat Roscommon next Sunday and looking at who is left in this tie, I would then go for Tyrone, as I think that neither Armagh nor Wicklow currently have the depth to get beyond Harte’s men. Likewise, Tyrone’s tight marking would probably be too much for Roscommon. In the event that Mayo were to go into this mix, I think we would have a much better chance of getting through.
Verdict (if Mayo win Connaught): Tyrone
3. Antrim/Down vs Cork
There is something wrong in Down at present. I don’t know what it is, but the fluency of their play from last year is missing and there what should be straightforward ties are becoming a struggle. On that basis, I suspect that a repeat of the 2010 All-Ireland Final might not happen as Antrim will be at home and could win the first tie. Having said that, I see no indication that any team other than Cork will eventually emerge from this group.
4. Meath/Kildare vs Donegal/Derry
This is the most difficult to call. I expect Kildare to beat Meath – even though it is in Navan – as Kildare to have improved more since their earlier meeting. I had expected Derry to have a slight edge on Donegal, but with Eoin Bradley looking like he has done in his cruciate, I’m now veering towards Donegal. And against Derry, I think that Kildare would have too much firepower.
So if Mayo and Donegal win their next games, I expect the teams in Bowl A for the Quarter Finals to be Dublin, Kerry, Mayo and Donegal and those in Bowl B to be Wexford, Tyrone, Cork and Kildare.
And at that stage, any team can dare to dream.
Keep the Faith!