GAA Preview 14/07/2023 – Saturday from 3:00pm
Its semi-finals weekend in the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship and most onlookers will be expecting to see Dublin and Kerry fulfilling their status as favourites to meet in the decider.
Both the reigning champions Kerry and a revitalised Dublin outfit delivered statement successes in the last-eight and it hard to see how the obdurate opponents from Ulster will put them off their path now.
There’s also the Tailteann Cup final between Down and Meath at Croke Park on Saturday afternoon, which may offer an early boost to the Ulster collective.
GAA Preview 14/07/2023: Selections
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Down can see off O’Rourke’s Royals
Down vs. Meath. Tailteann Cup Final, Croke Park, Saturday 15th July, 3.00pm
Live on RTE2
Colm O’Rourke’s first season as Meath manager has been turbulent and will only be labelled a success in all probability if the outcome here is positive for the long-time Sunday Game pundit.
The Royals endured an up and down spring in the league and were humbled in the Leinster championship against Offaly, but they have come good to make the second-tier decider.
O’Rourke is already satisfied with his team and their progress and pinpointed ‘the way Dublin went after the Mayo kick-out in the second half’ of their All-Ireland quarter-final as the ‘sort of game that we would like to play’. That’s a grand aspiration, but it may take Meath some time to get there.
They can count a 1-11 to 1-09 win over Down on their record this summer already, that June success coming in Parnell Park on a day when the Mourne men kicked 16 wides.
Conor Laverty and his Down side are making fair strides forward and the camp have suggested that ‘win or learn’ has been their mantra.
They have beaten Tipperary, Cavan and Laois en route to this final and scored 11 goals along the way. O’Rourke has pinpointed the ability to stop Saturday’s opponents from registering three-pointers as being pivotal.
Based on recent performances, Meath might struggle, especially if that plan to push up on kickouts is in place. Down’s scoring power may win the day.
Dubs to send Farney Army backwards
Live on RTE2/BBC2 NI
They haven’t gone away, you know. Six-in-a-row All-Ireland champions Dublin have let go of Sam Maguire in the last two seasons but they look intent on regaining the silverware now.
The quarter-final wins of these sides could scarcely have been more polar opposites. Dublin had that old swashbuckling look back as they swatted Mayo aside with a vintage second half showing.
Even when the outcome was assured, it was never about retaining possession and ‘seeing it out’ as the Dubs were merciless in that 2-17 to 0-11 win.
They have that hunger back and, as so often in the past, it was a joy to watch in comparison with some of the football on show this summer.
Arguably, the championship reached a nadir before Monaghan inflicted more penalty misery on Armagh the evening before. They sides were locked on 14 points each after extra-time in a contest that was often sore on the eyes. ‘Don’t lose’ was the clear mantra from both camps, a stark contrast to Dublin’s hunting of Mayo.
Much of the noise coming from Monaghan’s ex-players and pundits this week suggests they are being patronised leading into this game – ‘brave gutsy Monaghan’ but ultimately not good enough.
Monaghan’s form this summer has come against Ulster opposition and they will meet a different animal now. Yes, their recent record against the Dubs in league action is strong, but this is not the league.
An All-Ireland Final berth awaits and anyone that watched these sides in their quarter-finals can only reach one logical conclusion.
Kerry’s forward to pick the Derry lock
Live on RTE2/BBC2 NI
Tyrone were supposed to present the ‘fear factor’ for Kerry in the last-eight but, in truth, that 2-18 to 0-12 win didn’t really drag the Kingdom out of second gear.
Seanie O’Shea and Diarmuid O’Connor fired the second-half goals for Kerry and finished with 2-7 between them, but perhaps a worry for Kerry was David Clifford’s tally was ‘only’ five points given their skipper left seven scoring opportunities behind him. That is a worry for another day, maybe.
Kerry’s scoring average going into the Tyrone game was 24.3 points per game and the 24 they hit against the Red Hands could have been more.
Ulster champions Derry meanwhile put 1-12 past a Cork side that, even as defeat loomed on their doorstep late in the game, appeared content to play it safe – an ultra-cautious approach that threatens the very fabric of Gaelic football.
Derry have players that can hurt any team. The mercurial Brendan Rogers is their talisman, while skipper Conor Glass offers the athleticism and the likes of Chrissy McKaigue, Gareth McKinless and Shane McGuigan are all clever operators.
It was noted by many that when Cork scored their goal the last day, Derry’s own pragmatic approach was binned momentarily as they responded immediately with a green flag of their own.
Perhaps Ciaran Meenagh’s men will be forced to release their own shackles in this contest. Maybe a grand plan awaits – aka the Donegal semi-final win that toppled the seemingly untouchable Dubs in 2014. But it will be something out of the ordinary if it happens.
Much more likely is that Kerry do what they need to and amble onwards to the All-Ireland final and a probable clash with their old foes Dublin.