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All Ireland Preview: Who Can Topple The Boys In Blue?

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With the long road to Croker having kick off in earnest, we’ll now take a look at the teams likely to raise Sam Maguire come September.

In Munster, the odds are firmly stacked in Cork and Kerry’s favour. Whoever can emerge from the traditional rivalry will be among the key contenders. It would be hard to see any other side from Munster upsetting this balance, claiming provincial glory outside of this two heavyweights of the game. Home advantage for either side could be a crucial factor on how they progress through the championship.

Reigning Connacht champions Mayo look set to continue their dominance, with Roscommon and Galway both capable of throwing a spanner in the works. Mayo seem likely to retain their Connacht title and blew away New York in this weekend’s quarter final (4-18 to 0-8) , but who they face in the final is anybody’s guess. Can London kick on from last year’s shock final appearance to have another crack at glory?

In Leinster, Dublin have been the dominant force over the last few seasons and with two All-Ireland titles under their belts in recent years it’s hard to look beyond the boys in blue. They will certainly have plenty of strong challenges from their Leinster counterparts but Jim Gavin’s panel has never looked strongers. Teams that could pose some trouble for the Dubs include fierce rivals Meath, Kildare, Wexford and Laois but these sides need something extra to topple the Dubs.

Ulster remains the hardest province to predict as there are a lot of contenders and as always the dark horse tends to come from within this province. It’s hard to pick a single dominant team here as they are very closely matched. The main teams to keep an eye on will be Donegal, Derry, Tyrone, Down and Monaghan. Cavan may well retain their momentum as last year’s surprise package but whether the men from the Breffni county can persevere remains to be seen.

The main contenders for All-Ireland glory certainly form a familiar pack. Dublin, Mayo, Cork, Kerry and one or two sides from Ulster will be among those vying for glory come September. Mayo seem to be best placed to stop Dublin from claiming back to back titles. Cork are playing well and with a good run in the league, they will be there come the business end of the championship. Kerry who are also a potential danger to the All-Ireland champions need to show more conviction in putting teams out of sight, with the loss of Colm Cooper and some other injury concerns, it will be hard to see Kerry ending a five year drought. Ulster remains an open battlfield but Donegal and Tyrone won’t be too far away this season as the 2012 Champions try to make a better run at the championship than that offered last year.

Predictions

Munster: Cork

Connacht: Mayo

Ulster: Tyrone

Leinster: Dublin

All Ireland: Dublin

Image courtesy of GAA.ie

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