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GAA: Big Guns To Battle In Provincial Deciders

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Ulster Senior Football Final

Monaghan v Donegal

Monaghan and Donegal are set again to meet in this year’s Ulster Final, a replay of last year’s provincial clash and this year’s division 2. Monaghan have been able to break Donegal’s stronghold in Ulster in the last two years and outside of Dublin and Mayo they have been the only side capable of stopping Jim McGuinness and his team. Monaghan will certainly needed to play with a fierce intensity as they did in last year’s Ulster final but it will be Donegal’s turn to be underdogs this time and this could suit them.

Monaghan will depend on Dick Clerkin for crucial possession in this game and will aim to stifle Donegal’s play around the middle of the pitch. This game will be a serious test of Donegal’s character and ability to be the best side in Ulster. Donegal still have strong attacking options up front with Colm McFadden and Michael Murphy, but it will be all about how both sides approach the game that will determine the result. Monaghan have been quite consistent so far this year, even though they were lucky to survive against Armagh the first time out in the Ulster semi final. Donegal had a rather easy victory over Antrim in the previous round where they blew them away just after half time.

A stalemate looks on the cards.

Verdict: Draw

Leinster Senior Football Final

Dublin v Meath

Dublin and Meath have long been rivals in the Leinster championship and their presence in the final presents an excellent opportunity as well as much needed challenging game before the next stage of the championship.  Meath came out on top against the Dubs in the Leinster semi final in 2010 courtesy of some well taken goals; they could well do with that again this weekend. Dublin have been one of the toughest teams to beat in the championship since lifting Sam back in 2011. Their ability to punch holes in the oppositions defence and create chance after chance is a very strong indicator as to why they are doing so well. Their strength in depth is arguably among the greatest seen in the history of the sport.

Meath will present the toughest challenge to the All-Ireland Champions so far in the championship as they seem to be the next best balanced side in Leinster at the moment.  Dublin have been known to perform better in the second half and have a strong ability to finish out the game strongly. One weakness that the Dubs have had in recent times is that the first half performance has been relatively poor and if Meath could build up a big enough lead in the first half they might have a chance of winning the game. Dublin and Meath matches have been relatively close in the last couple of years with only a few score’s separating the two sides. However Jim Gavin’s side may have too much firepower and look set to keep the Leinster title in the capital.

Verdict: Dublin

All-Ireland Football Qualifiers Round 3B

Roscommon v Armagh

Armagh will be the on the road once more as they face the challenge of the Rossies in Dr Hyde Park. Armagh will be very confident coming into this game after their impressive victory over Tyrone in the previous round of the Qualifiers. Roscommon will be disappointed that they didn’t have the same hard challenge in the previous round when they overcame Cavan quite easily.

Armagh have been a formidable force in Ulster football this year, with some good players like Jamie Clarke and Tony Kernan being influential figures for their side. Roscommon on the other side have had things somewhat easier with Senan Kilbride and Cathal Cregg being their main attacking force up front. It will be interesting as Roscommon haven’t played a tough game since their defeat to current Connacht champions Mayo. Roscommon will be well rested after the victory over Cavan and with home advantage in their favour for this encounter with the Orchard County; it may be a deciding factor if this game is still close in the dying moments.

Verdict: Armagh

Clare v Kildare

Kildare will be the visitors to Ennis this weekend as they take on the Banner for a place in the last 12 of this year’s football championship.

Clare impressed with their performance over Carlow last weekend where they kicked 4-26 which is a massive score for any county football team. However they will be disappointed that they conceded 2-13 also which is a big concern for their defence. Kildare though seem to have a greater balance to their side, even though their defence lacks real pace and speed. Clare will not have it as easy as Kildare are a really strong side in comparison to Carlow.

Kildare were not really challenged in their previous encounter with Down and will certainly aim to put this game out of sight. The real battle for this game will be in midfield as possession will be vital to both sides.  It will be interesting to see how Kildare deal with the presence of Clare’s Gary Brennan in midfield as he could give them some problems. Kildare are mostly certainly favourites to progress but Clare will look to exploit their weaknesses in defence.

Verdict: Kildare

Image courtesy of GAA.ie

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