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munster big hitters Cork may be full of confidence but I don't give them a prayer against Kerry

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 David Clifford of Kerry in action against Brendan McCole of Donegal during the Allianz Football League Division 1 clash

David Clifford of Kerry in action against Brendan McCole of Donegal during the Allianz Football League Division 1 clash

David Clifford of Kerry in action against Brendan McCole of Donegal during the Allianz Football League Division 1 clash

Musnter SFC Semi-final

Cork v Kerry, Páirc Uí Chaoimh, 4.0, RTÉ2

Cork will be full of confidence after coming through the league unbeaten. They were the highest-scoring team in the competition and, having witnessed them hit 3-13 from play against Louth, I can vouch for the prowess of their forwards.

The addition of Cian O'Neill has seen their conditioning improve and don't forget they ran Kerry to three points in last year's Munster final.

Kerry remain unsure of their best XV and their new defensive system remains a work in progress.

They don't have a settled midfield pairing and their inability to convert their goal chances is an ongoing concern.

Aside from the Donegal game, which hardly counts, Kerry haven't got more than one goal in a game and failed to goal against both Tyrone and Monaghan.

Yet, being brutally honest, I still don't give Cork a prayer. Their defence is porous, prone to foul - they conceded nine points from frees in their last match against Louth - and the back-line is easily prised apart. Tipperary scored 0-21 against them, while Derry hit them for 3-21.

Their biggest handicap is they have been playing in Division 3 and have had only one competitive match since the lockdown. David Clifford and his colleagues could have a field day.

Verdict: Kerry

Connacht SFC Semi-final

Roscommon v Mayo, Dr Hyde Park, 1.30, RTÉ2

The match of the day is nearly impossible to call. As I have repeatedly written, Roscommon don't get enough credit for what they have achieved.

They are bidding for their fifth Connacht football final appearance in a row and won the title in 2017 and 2019.

Based on their performance in the Super 8s last summer they are a top-six team, and they have just won the Division 2 title.

For the first time since Anthony Cunningham took charge they are at full strength.

And under his management the Rossies' defensive play has improved immeasurably - in their last six league games they didn't concede a goal.

It's hard to get a handle on Mayo. They're a bit like the character in the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow nursery rhyme. 'When she was good, she was very good indeed. But when she was bad, she was horrid.'

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They were relegated from Division 1 and James Horan hasn't a clue what his best team is. They have too many defenders who like to attack and leave space at the back.

Though they have a championship game under their belts, they would not have learned much from the Leitrim game.

Cillian O'Connor (inset) did look back to his best - scoring 1-9 - but he always does that against the lesser lights.

I have a slight preference for Mayo simply because they have been playing at a higher level and their scoring feats in their last three games against Leitrim, Tyrone, and Galway - in which they hit 6-57 and an average of 25 points a game - is very impressive.


Verdict: Mayo

Leinster SFC quarter-finals

Offaly v Kildare, Portlaoise, 5.30, GAAGO

Let us begin by saluting Niall McNamee who in his 17th season with Offaly and hit 1-2 in their win over Carlow. Bernard Allen is also a capable finisher and the side retained their Division 3 status.

Kildare struggled prior to lockdown, but Jack O'Connor looks to have finally got a handle on his men. They won their two matches since the resumption to keep their place in Division 2.

Though the Lilies scored only two goals in the league, they conceded only two as well.

However, it is Division Two v Three, which usually means one thing.

Verdict: Kildare
Wicklow v Meath, Aughrim, 1.30, GAAGO

Wicklow are in bonus territory, having secured promotion to Division 3 and recorded a championship win over Wexford. Though they were relegated from Division 1 after failing to win a game, Meath's commitment was striking, and they look like a team on a mission. Verdict: Meath

Longford v Laois, Glennon Bros Pearse Park, 1.30 GAA GO

Longford didn't blow the lights out against Louth. They were workmanlike and just about adequate.

I still think they will rue their decision not to face Cork as it would have given them a taste of playing against a better quality team.

Laois will be on a high after fashioning a spectacular comeback against Fermanagh which secured their Division 3 status.

Verdict: Laois

Pat Spillane

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