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GAA: The Road To Croker Starts Here

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Ulster Senior Football Championship

Tyrone v Down

This will be the first hard fought battle of the championship as the 2010 All-ireland finalist’s look to upset the odds and overcome Tyrone who have had an up and down performance in their league campaign. Down will hope that the experience of playing in an All Ireland final a few years ago will stand to them this weekend as they face a very consistent Tyrone who have been strong contenders in the championship for the last decade. Down need to show that their players are not merely a flash in the pan, they have the ability to put Tyrone to the sword but have failed to impress since their exploits in 2010. Peter Harte will be the driving force for Tyrone, he is their real playmaker and is a thorn in the side for most teams. Tyrone have enough strength in depth to overcome Down this weekend, but never rule out the prospect of an upset.

Verdict: Tyrone

Connacht Senior Football Championship

Roscommon v Leitrim

Leitrim have not really been punching above their weight and may be completely outclassed by a vastly strong and sharper Roscommon side who have displayed solid league form and should be too strong for their western counterparts especially as they have more firepower up front to rely on for crucial scores. With the likes of Donal Shine and the influential Karl Mannion in midfield coupled with home advantage being in Roscommon’s favour, it is hard to look beyond a Roscommon victory this weekend.

Verdict: Roscommon

Leinster Senior Football Championship

Westmeath v Louth

This will be an interesting battle as both sides performed poorly in the league and have a chance to get a valuable victory under their belt in this tie. Westmeath failed to make a positive impact on Division 1 as they failed to win any game, this may have an influence on the game and will no doubt be on their minds. Louth did at least manage to get a league victory under their belt and that mental factor will stand to them in this game. Westmeath have home advantage which could be key but Louth still pose a significant threat to Westmeath’s championship hopes.

Verdict: Draw

Wicklow v Laois

Laois have been a steady contender in Leinster for a while  now and have began to become more consistent as of late with a reasonable display in the league while Wicklow failed to do better in Division 4. Wicklow will need an excellent start to this game if they are serious about causing an upset against the midlanders. Both sides have the potential to win this game but league status means that Laois are going to be playing a higher standard of football against better opposition. Laois will more than likely have the edge over the garden county this weekend.

Verdict: Laois

Longford v Offaly

Both of these sides were relegated to Division 4 of the league for next season, despite some good displays at times. This will be a hard fought  match, although it won’t be the highest quality of match, nonetheless it should be a good opening test for either side in the championship. This will be a game where the ability to convert opportunities and take advantage of mistakes may prove crucial and with home advantage, Longford seem to be in a stronger position. Offaly were in a little bit of a dark place a few years ago and have improved since that point and are well capable of winning this game. This will be one of the hardest games to call this weekend. I am going to go with Offaly as they have improved a lot in the last year or two and beat Monaghan comprehensively in the 2011 All-Ireland championship.

Verdict: Offaly

Image courtesy of GAA.ie

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