It’s Unfair That Donegal Have To Play In Hostile Castlebar
Mayo v Donegal
It’s unfortunate we have dead rubber games at this stage of the Championship.
It’s difficult enough to go to county training as it is, but to go to county training for two weeks and have nothing to really play for only pride is hard on the players.
It’s also hard on the management to get the players motivated. Unfortunately, Cork, Roscommon and Meath have to finish the year out and the management have to figure out what to build on.
Like I’ve said before, the Championship must change. People can say it’s no benefit to the provincial winners but nobody is going to go out and try to lose a game; everyone will keep trying to win. It’s always easier for a team that’s already been beaten in the Championship to come back and win.
If Tyrone lose this week its ominous for the rest of the teams as it’s hard to see Dublin lose twice in one year. I was talking to a few of the Tyrone players this week and they said there definitely will be changes this week and some players rested.
Mayo v Donegal
I think we will see Donegal and Kerry take the remaining semi-final places along with Dublin and Tyrone in the All-Ireland SFC.
When you look at the way the Super 8s and Ulster Championship went, Donegal did absolutely nothing wrong. Now they find themselves in a situation where they have to get a draw or a win in Castlebar, which is one of the hardest places to go to with a very hostile atmosphere.
I think it’s unfair on Donegal that they have to do this after the way they have played so far.
I do think they have enough to get over the line, especially after their performance against Kerry. It will be difficult though, as this Mayo team will have one last kick in them and they know it’s do or die. They won’t make it easy.
Donegal were by far the better team against Kerry. They lost three of their starting six defenders and they still showed great character.
Eoghan Bán Gallagher is out for the rest of the year and will be a massive loss for them. One thing that does stand for them though is their youth players who have matured greatly over the last number of years.
They have a strong panel and bench now. We saw it the last day; all the subs that came on make a big impact. For example, Oisin Gallen has really lit up the Championship this year starting games from the subs bench. Also, no matter how hard teams try to mark Michael Murphy, they struggle.
Ryan McHugh was outstanding against Kerry too. Mayo don’t have the same quality that Donegal have.
Meath v Kerry
Kerry will probably take on players that haven’t had much game time so far this season. James O’ Donoghue and David Moran need game time and I expect them to play a big part this weekend.
Mentally Meath won’t be in this game and I expect a convincing Kerry victory. Meath have nothing to play for and the players will be looking to get back into their Club Championships as soon as possible.
Cork v Roscommon
Anthony Cunningham has made it clear that he really wants to finish the Super 8s on a high. Cork are buzzing they’ve had a great success in getting to an U20 All-Ireland Final. I think Cork have their “Corkness” back and they will beat Roscommon.
Tyrone v Dublin
It will be interesting to see how Jim Gavin & Mickey Harte will coach the game. They both want to win this game; that’s the kind of managers that they both are.
This is another Super 8s scenario where you find yourself in a tricky situation where you’re playing in an All-Ireland semi-final in six or seven days’ time.
Obviously you don’t want to risk a lot of your main players when you don’t need to win the game, as both have already qualified so I think a lot of players will be rested. Do you risk playing Peter Harte who is carrying two black cards? I don’t think so.
I was sitting beside Diarmuid Connolly at the last game and he was taking stats. He wasn’t taking them for himself so it just goes to show the lengths he is willing to go to get back in the team.
I think Jim Gavin has told him that if he wants to get back in the team that he’ll have to start from the bottom. I think he will give him some game time this weekend.
Dublin can put out two good teams but Tyrone can’t afford to rest more than five or six players because they don’t have the strength and depth that Dublin have. Don’t rule out a draw in this game.