By Peter O’ Dwyer
Last year’s league finalists Tyrone and Dublin clash in round six with both still in contention of a semi-final spot with Mickey Harte’s men in a slightly more favourable position.
While both sides could qualify for the semis, the far more likely scenario is that the winner will advance at the expense of their defeated opponents.
Tyrone, in third position on eight points, require just a draw while the All-Ireland champions need to win to progress. Only a Tryone loss coupled with a zero-point haul for both Mayo and Kerry would see both sides progress.
In a competitive league structure, Jim Gavin certainly wouldn’t have taken anything for granted during this campaign but might have expected to have a semi-final berth secured heading into the final game. As it is, defeats to Cork and Derry leave Gavin’s men in need of a result this weekend.
Dublin will be without hugely influential goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton for the clash having been sent off at Croke Park last week. His loss was immediately felt last week when replacement ‘keeper Seán Currie sent a kick-out into the hands of a Mayo man for what culminated in a goal for the visitors.
In addition to Cluxton’s value in launching attacks, his long-range free-taking ability is also one of Dublin’s most reliable scoring options.
The league champions do have the return of Bernard Brogan to look forward to however, as last year’s All-Ireland final man-of-the match takes his place in the starting line-up for the first time since that game last September.
He is also joined in attack by last week’s two-goal hero Eoghan O’ Gara who takes the place of Cormac Costello. Currie has also been confirmed as Cluxton’s replacement in the final of three changes to the side.
Similarly, Tyrone manager Mickey Harte has opted to stick largely to the side that took to the field for last week’s league encounter, with just one alteration to his selection this time around.
Into the side comes Emmet McKenna in place of the injured Tiernan McCann. Ciarán McGinely will drop back into the half-back line to vacate the number 10 jersey for McKenna.
Throw-in is at 3pm on Sunday in Omagh.
1 Niall Morgan (Éadan na dTorc)
2 Aidan McCrory (Aireagal Chiaráin)
3 Ronan McNamee (Achadh Uí Aráin)
4 Ryan McKenna (Eaglais)
5 Ciaran McGinley (Aireagal Chiaráin)
6 Mattie Donnelly (Trí Leac)
7 Peter Harte (Aireagal Chiaráin)
8 Colm Cavanagh (An Mhaigh)
9 Sean Cavanagh (An Mhaigh)
10 Emmett McKenna (Eaglais)
11 Shea McGuigan (Ard Bó)
12 Mark Donnelly (An Charraig Mhór)
13 Darren McCurry (Éadán na dTorc)
14 Kyle Coney (Ard Bó)
15 Connor McAliskey (Cluain Eo)
1 Seán Currie (Ballymun Kickhams)
2 Jonny Cooper (Na Fianna)
3 Rory O'Carroll (Kilmacud Crokes)
4 Darren Daly (Fingal Ravens)
5 James McCarthy (Ballymun Kickhams)
6 Cian O'Sullivan (Kilmacud Crokes)
7 Kevin Nolan (Kilmacud Crokes)
8 Michael Darragh Macauley (Ballyboden St Enda's)
9 Tomás Brady (Na Fianna)
10 Paddy Andrews (St Brigid's)
11 Alan Brogan (St Oliver Plunkett's/Eoghan Ruadh)
12 Diarmuid Connolly (St Vincent's)
13 Kevin McManamon (St Jude's)
14 Eoghan O'Gara (Templeogue Synge St)
15 Bernard Brogan (St Oliver Plunkett's/Eoghan Ruadh)