Preview of the 2019 GAA All Ireland Championship
With the 2019 All Ireland Football championship well under way, we have already gotten a small taste of what the Summer will bring. After a thrilling first few rounds full of twists and turns in all provincial championships, the scene is now set for an exciting end to the four provincial finals, as well as some surprising early exits who now have to prove themselves through the backdoor routes.
As expected, current All Ireland Champions Dublin and last year’s finalists Tyrone impressed pundits early on with emphatic wins over Louth and Antrim, showcasing the talent and depth in squad they both have which is frighteningly impressive. Jim Gavin and Mickey Harte have obviously laid down intentions for the Championship early by fielding strong teams early on.
At the other end of the spectrum, Mayo have failed to kick on after winning the Allianz League campaign with a narrow one point defeat to close provincial rivals Roscommon. Kerry on the other hand, who were tipped early on as the only team to stop the Dublin juggernaut, scraped by a resilient Clare side in their Munster Semi Final clash.
Leinster: It’s easy to say Dublin will be tested this year but it’s hard to see that coming from Kildare come Sunday’s Leinster Semi Final. The only chance of an upset in our opinion will come from a very fired up and resilient Meath side, led under the guidance of former All Ireland Club winning manager Andy McEntee. The former Ballyboden St. Enda’s man will no doubt have a plan for the boys in blue having managed in the county previously. Meath had an impressive League campaign and were a joy to watch in Croke Park against Donegal for 50mins but fell at the final hurdle. Needless to say they will need to be able to go the full 70+mins to beat this Dublin side, assuming they can beat Laois this weekend.
Player to watch: Cormac Costello (Dublin)
Munster: The Munster Final is set to be an unexpected showdown between old rivals Cork and Kerry. The rebels defied everyone’s predictions and were extremely impressive against an up and coming Limerick side who are driven by their recent Hurling success. Cork seemed to have got their act together after a few disappointing years of poor results and it is great to see them back fighting amongst the countries elite. Kerry on the other hand, who beat Dublin in one of the most exciting games of the year back in February, have failed to kick on, losing to Mayo in the League Final and scraping a lacklustre victory over an average Clare side. Peter Keane’s men will no doubt be at full strength with a never ending conveyor belt of underage talent coming through pushing for senior places, creating fierce competition within the camp. We still haven’t seen the best of Kerry and once we do it will be a sight to behold.
Player to watch: Sean O'Shea (Kerry)
Ulster: At the start of the season if you had of said that the Ulster Championship would be the most exciting, people might have laughed and said maybe the most competitive, but certainly not the most exciting with the brand of football played. How wrong we were, as all teams have been fiercely competitive and there has been some absolute exhibitions being played up North. Last week’s draw after extra time between Cavan and Armagh was nothing short of a classic with Cian Mackey proving to be Cavan's saviour when his point in the 88th minute forced a draw after extra time in Clones. Meanwhile, Donegal and Tyrone both picked up relatively easy victories to set up an exciting Semi Final that is one that shouldn’t be missed.
Prediction: Donegal… Just
Player to watch: Ryan McHugh (Donegal)
Connacht: After Mayo’s recent League success, everyone would have thought they would have pushed on and won Connacht with ease under James Horan’s new regime, so it came as a shock upset when Roscommon came out with the spoils after a 1 point win. After a demolition of Sligo, Galway seem to have found their feet and will fancy themselves against a strong Roscommon side who have momentum on their side coming into this highly anticipated Connacht Final.
Player to watch: Conor Cox (Roscommon)
Insights from our own former All Stars
Anthony Rainbow's Predictions :
Player to watch: David Clifford
In his first season at senior inter county level, Clifford went on to win an all star and young player of the year proving just how good he is. No doubt he will only get better this year.
Team to watch: Kerry
Kerry had a very impressive league campaign with the exception of the league final. But strong performances in the victory over the All Ireland Champions Dublin shows just what they are capable of.
Kerry haven’t been involved in an All Ireland final since 2015 and will be eager to stop the drive for 5 for Dublin.
Glenn Ryan’s Predictions:
Player to watch: Paul Mannion
Paul has become Dublins most important forward. His strong running, pace, and magical left foot has seen him take on the Diarmuid Connolly mantle. He can win his own ball in packed defences and thrives in open spaces when they arise…my tip for Player of the Year.
Team to watch: Dublin
Despite the recent one sided matches in Croke Park, the football championship has made a respectable start with a number of great games already, notably both Cavan v Armagh games and the Roscommon v Mayo battle. With the exception of the Leinster Final where Dublin will cruise to yet another provincial crown, the other deciders can be eagerly looked forward to.
Despite Cork’s poor showing in the league I do believe they will improve and will want to put up a brave show against Kerry in Pairc Ui Chaoimh. Few would have predicted a Cavan/Donegal Ulster final, but with Mickey working his Mullinaghta magic with his home county this will be tight call. Roscommon scuppered Mayo’s Connacht ambitions and will not fear Galway. It will be a big task for them, one however that has been made a bit easier by the expected absence of Damian Comer for this game.
The Super 8’s is where we really get down to business, but at the end of the day it looks like Dublin’s drive for 5 will be hard to stop.
Overall this year’s All Ireland Championship is set to be one of the most exciting in recent years and is teed up to be a classic at the Super 8 stage. We will revisit the championship once we see our Provincial winners. Make sure you download your O&B GAA Football Championship Wall planner now to keep up to date with all of this year’s action.
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