All the ingredients in place for a blockbuster this summer

All the ingredients in place for a blockbuster this summer

Yes, it’s lopsided, yes it’s an elitist structure and yes the top two in Group 2 could be confirmed by Saturday week but after a debut to forget the Super 8 may come alive this year. 

Not only does Mayo’s qualification provide sweet music for the GAA coffers but it makes Group 1 a competition to relish. 

Here’s John Fogarty’s low-down on the final eight for the Sam Maguire Cup.

GROUP 1

DONEGAL

Defending their Ulster title in the manner which they did and now being able to draw on Stephen Rochford’s expertise (that last round game against Mayo in Castlebar will be intriguing), it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Donegal are regarded as the closest team to Dublin on form. 

All the ingredients in place for a blockbuster this summer

It’s not a tag that sits too comfortably with them yet, though, and what they want is an improvement from last year meaning an All-Ireland semi-final place. It’s well within their grasp.

Number of Championship games unbeaten: 3.

Who will be their player of the Super 8 series: Ryan McHugh.

Prediction: 1st.

KERRY

The onus is on them to deliver, not Mayo in Fitzgerald Stadium next week. 

All the ingredients in place for a blockbuster this summer

Mayo will have the jump on them in terms of momentum and experience but that win over Cork, however much room for improvement it left, does not look too shabby in the context of what the Rebels did to Laois on Saturday. 

A shoot-out against Mayo is not something they would be averse to. Win that and reaching the last four is one win away although they might have to wait until the final round to achieve it.

Number of Championship games unbeaten: 4.

Who will be their player of the Super 8 series: David Clifford.

Prediction: 2nd.

MAYO

Confounding the naysayers yet again, Mayo land in the Super 8s perhaps in better shape (albeit not physically) than they would have had they claimed a Connacht title. 

All the ingredients in place for a blockbuster this summer

Seeing off Down, Armagh and Galway, none of the other seven have beaten the calibre of the teams that they have accounted for. 

Don’t be surprised if it’s score difference that dictates how the top three positions in Group 1 are decided but Mayo may have too much to do if Killarney doesn’t work out for them next weekend.

Number of Championship games unbeaten: 3.

Who will be their player of the Super 8 series: Patrick Durcan.

Prediction: 3rd.

MEATH

The first Leinster runners-up to reach the All-Ireland quarter-final stages in 10 years. Whether that says more about the state of football in the province than Meath’s ability to recover is debatable. 

All the ingredients in place for a blockbuster this summer

They gave Donegal a run for their money in MacCumhaill Park earlier this year but Declan Bonner’s team was weakened for that League tie. 

The next few weeks will be an exploration if nothing else.

Number of Championship games unbeaten: 1.

Who will be their player of the Super 8 series: Donal Keogan.

Prediction: 4th.

GROUP 2

DUBLIN

Once more the champions find themselves in a group involving Roscommon and Tyrone. 

All the ingredients in place for a blockbuster this summer

For the competition’s sake, it’s good that they must travel to Omagh in the final round rather than Round 2 as was the case last year. 

Unless Roscommon beat Tyrone on Saturday or Cork surprise Tyrone in Croke Park, that should mean the first and second spots aren’t decided until the last day but the top spot will be Dublin’s.

Number of Championship games unbeaten: 29.

Who will be their player of the Super 8 series: Paul Mannion.

Prediction: 1st.

ROSCOMMON

As captain Enda Smith said last week, the players felt like they let themselves down at this stage last year and are keen for atonement. 

All the ingredients in place for a blockbuster this summer

Beating two Division 1 sides in Galway and Mayo away, Roscommon know they are capable of taking that second semi-final spot but the Tyrone side they face at Dr Hyde Park this Saturday have built up some head of steam.

Number of Championship games unbeaten: 3.

Who will be their player of the Super 8 series: Enda Smith.

Prediction: 3rd.

CORK

All the ingredients in place for a blockbuster this summer

With that comprehensive win over Laois on Saturday, all the disappointment of losing their Division 2 status became a distant memory. 

The faith Ronan McCarthy has shown in his men, the faith they have shown in themselves, has been paid back and there is sure to be a bit of abandon in their play even against a team as strikingly effective as Dublin.

 

Two trips to Croke Park will bring them on but if McCarthy’s honest it’s the second one and the clash with Tyrone that will mean more in light of last year’s qualifier drubbing.

Number of Championship games unbeaten: 1.

Who will be their player of the Super 8 series: Ruairí Deane.

Prediction: 4th.

TYRONE

All the ingredients in place for a blockbuster this summer

The Donegal defeat is now just a speck in their rearview mirror. 

The prospect of facing them again in an All-Ireland semi-final is a tantalising possibility but they have to keep their wits about them to put themselves in the best position before Dublin come to Omagh. 

Cathal McShane’s repositioning has been a success and while the form of some of their senior men is off, their panel depth is strong enough.

Number of Championship games unbeaten: 3.

Who will be their player of the Super 8 series: Cathal McShane.

Prediction: 2nd.

Mike Quirke's Football Show: Tactical Mayo but never boring. How Cork changed tack. Tyrone always learning. Fixing the fouling carnage

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