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GAA: Final Four Aim For All Ireland Glory

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All-Ireland Football Semi-Final

Donegal v Dublin

This will be another rip roaring game of football, but tactics and how these sides approach the game will determine the flow as Donegal are designed to pounce on the opposition mistakes. Monaghan did this well for the opening quarter of their encounter with Dublin before fatigue and other factors allowed Dublin to breach the Monaghan defence and it started raining scores for the Dubs in Croke Park. This will certainly not happen this weekend. Donegal will go out to impose themselves physically and mentally in this game as Armagh did to Cavan earlier in the Championship.

The defence for both sides will be a key area Firstly looking at the Dubs, they will use their backline as their platform for their attack as they can’t afford to kick the ball long down field as Donegal will shut down that avenue very quickly, it may take a very long time for Dublin to breach the Donegal rearguard, but they will get chances. Monaghan’s defence held out for 25 Minutes, Donegal could well hold out for about 60 Minutes, but putting a figure on it, is very hard. Donegal will play ultra-defensively but they will need to push up on the Dublin kickouts, a thing that Laois did well against them in the Leinster Championship. They can’t afford to gift Dublin possession; otherwise it will be a matter of how long before Dublin breach through their defence. Stephen Cluxton’s kickouts could be a good indicator of whether Donegal are going to throw caution to the wind or set-up a real tough blanket defence. Donegal need to push up on Dublin, a thing Mayo (the last team to beat the Dubs in Croke Park) have been quite good at recent years.

Midfield is a not really a quality area for Dublin as they move around so much to receive easy possession for kickout’s, it is more of a link-up and distribution hub for long balls into their forwards. Donegal need to stop Dublin in this area as it will take the pressure off their defence, but must avoid man to man battles as they may not come out on top in most of them. Donegal need to compete for possession and if they can do that for the bulk of the game and remain disciplined and not give away easy frees, they could cause Dublin some problems. Donegal also don’t have the strongest midfield in the country, but they have mobility, which is something Dublin could have some problems dealing with on Sunday.

Forward play is Dublin’s ace card and is something they hold over most teams, they have got very easy chances through shear hard work and working to create space. Donegal also boast a potent attacking threat and must make sure that their shooting boots are on come Sunday as this is more going to be like war than a football match. Dublin have strength in-depth from the subs bench that no other side has, but I still believe that Bernard Brogan is their main forward threat. Donegal need to reproduce good patches of play for seventy minutes as they have shown the conviction to beat sides and they need to bring the kitchen sink to Dublin as they haven’t been challenged all year.

Verdict: Donegal

All-Ireland Senior Football Semi-Final Replay

Kerry v Mayo

There has been fierce debate over the location of this replay due to the Croke Park Classic taking place in headquarters on Saturday at the expense of our national game. Mayo will be disappointed that they will have to travel so far south and that if they went any little bit further they would be in the Kingdom. Having stated this, I think the venue will have very little influence on how the teams play.

Looking at the previous game, I feel both sides have a lot of areas to improve on, particularly Kerry. Mayo will be counting themselves very lucky as they really got out of jail the last day. Mayo have lacked a real ability to close out games, that is why they haven’t won the All-Ireland in a long time. Kerry haven’t been able to play at the heights of the last decade, but still remain a formidable force, whom are improving. Last week’s game showed me that Kerry need to release possession more and avoid bringing the ball into tackles as this allowed Mayo to turn the ball over. Mayo too were completely non-existent in the first half as they didn’t show any appetite for the game as they allowed Kerry the time and space they needed to take the lead.

Mayo’s defence will find it very hard to cope with James O’Donoghue as he is a very elusive player, it is hard to mark a player of that movement and skill. Mayo had three players in front of him, trying to cut the supply of possession to him, but it didn’t work, the only advantage they got out of it was that when O’Donoghue received possession he was forced away from goal. Kerry’s defence was a little shaky at times and they will need to tighten up at the back as they can’t let the Mayo midfielders come through. Mayo’s defence was relatively okay, but they can’t focus too much on O’Donoghue as this cost them when Kieran Donaghy came on for them. Kerry still have some good experienced players on the bench, but this game could suit them as Mayo may feel the effects of last Saturday’s encounter more.

Verdict: Kerry

Image courtesy of GAA.ie

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