Ulster SFC quarter-final
Donegal’s recent record in the Ulster SFC is exceptional.
Essentially, they have farmed the northern province ever since Jim McGuinness began his reign as king of Tír Chonaill.
McGuinness, of course, has since moved on but so far, under Rory Gallagher, very little has changed for Donegal.
Now that it’s Rory winnin’ matches the locals are beginning to believe further silverware will be earned this season.
Donegal reached the semi-final of the NFL Division 1 and in defeating Tyrone in the preliminary round of the Ulster SFC Gallagher’s side reiterated their desire to maintain a stranglehold on the province.
However, people should not forget how wasteful Tyrone were in the first-half of that encounter in Ballybofey.
Had Mickey Harte’s men not been so reliant on Seán Cavanagh for ingenuity Donegal might have found themselves in serious trouble.
Tomorrow, the All-Ireland finalists of 2014 go to the Athletic Grounds with Armagh waiting in the long grass.
And there is a feeling this clash has ‘ambush’ written all over it with Kieran McGeeney’s charges primed for a massive performance.
The Orchard County will compete in Division 2 next term following promotion.
However, what may have actually been most beneficial to Armagh this season was Crossmaglen Rangers’ absence from the latter stages of the All-Ireland Club SFC.
Crossmaglen’s successes have hindered Armagh’s championship preparations in recent years but because McGeeney has had his full complement of players for a sustained period prior to the big show the critics may be quietened.
Connacht SFC semi-final
Run your eyes over Mayo’s team-sheet for their meeting with Galway in the Connacht SFC semi-final and you appreciate quickly why they are, not only favourites to reach the provincial decider, but also considered the most likely side to win the title yet again.
An inside forward line of Andy Moran, Cillian O’Connor and Jason Doherty would, after all, leave the best of defenders with sleepless nights.
Additionally, Mayo’s half-back line including Lee Keegan, Tom Cunniffe and Colm Boyle is the ideal launchpad for successful counter-attacks and the Tribesmen will do well to curb their particular edge in Pearse Stadium.
In fact, Noel Connolly and Pat Holmes have named 13 of the 15 that started the All-Ireland semi-final replay against eventual champions Kerry last year.
Mayo, too, have beaten Galway in the championships of 2013 and 2014 by a combined 7-30 to 0-27 which is an incredible statistic.
And even though Kevin Walsh’s outfit are progressing it is still difficult to envisage the Tribesmen being sufficiently physically prepared yet to overthrow Mayo in the west.
Galway have arrived at this point on the back of a 2-18 to 0-8 win over New York and a 1-13 to 0-8 triumph against Leitrim.
Defensively, not much more could have been asked of Galway in those games.
Significantly, though, their overall performance will have to leap three steps forward if they are to really compete with Mayo.
Galway will look to Damien Comer for key scores but Mayo should advance again.