Pat Spillane’s verdicts on Sunday’s GAA action as Dublin flex their muscles
Pat Spillane has cast his eye over Sunday's big GAA matches and here are his predictions
Connacht SFC semi-final
Roscommon v Galway
Dr Hyde Park, Roscommon, 4.0. RTE2
One can only admire how Galway dusted themselves down after their All-Ireland final defeat.
They reached the league final, boasted the best defensive record in Division 1 and now have greater strength in depth after adding players to the squad.
But I still don’t think they have a forward line capable of winning an All-Ireland title.
In the last quarter of the decider against Kerry they managed just two points from six shots.
In their most recent Croke Park defeat to Mayo in the league final only two starting forwards scored from play managing 0-3 between them.
I won’t hand Roscommon manager Davy Burke any more ammunition by ‘disrespecting’ his team.
Actually I don’t think anybody ‘disrespected’ them before the Mayo game regardless of the manager’s claims afterwards.
Like Monaghan, you write off Roscommon at your peril. They have damn good footballers but love to create a siege mentality.
They have a lot going for them today. Their win over Mayo was fully deserved.
When they met Galway in the league they came from four points down to win 9-8 and held their opponents scoreless in the last 20 minutes. And they have home advantage.
But they have lost their element of surprise. Really it’s a toss-up and could go to extra time. A very hesitant vote for Galway.
Leinster SFC quarter-finals
Westmeath v Louth
Pairc Tailteann, Navan, 2.0.
There are a myriad of reasons why I should tip Louth. They finished third in Division Two with four wins and even in the games they lost to Dublin (7 points), Derry (4) and Clare (1) they were very competitive.
Westmeath were the polar opposite. On form in Division Three they were magnificent. They beat Antrim by 31 points and Longford by 19 and were the highest scorers in the section.
Yet for the second season in a row failed to be promoted. Maybe the fact they had already qualified for the Sam Maguire was a distraction.
Today might be one of the occasions they hit form.
Kildare v Wicklow
Netwatch Cullen Park, Carlow, 2.30
Wicklow are in bonus territory having secured promotion and won a first round championship tie against Carlow.
They won’t fear Division Two side Kildare who had a miserable Allianz League campaign finishing fifth with just three wins.
Still, when their backs were against they won their last two games to avoid relegation.
A win won’t copper-fasten their place in the Sam Maguire series, but it will leave their fate in their hands.
Laois v Dublin
Laois Hire O’Moore Park, Portlaoise, 3.30. GAAGO
It would be dishonest to suggest that Laois have any chance.
Clutching at straws they have home advantage, they beat Wexford in the Leinster first round and were the second highest scorers in Division Four
Dublin secured promotion back to Division One without ever shifting out of third gear.
Ominously for all other contenders they shook off a few cobwebs against Derry in the League Final, when they started scoring goals again, four of them and they could have had four more.
A double digit defeat awaits Laois and I have a bad feeling it could be plus 15 or worse.
Offaly v Meath,
Glenisk O’Connor Park, Tullamore, 4.0
My usual rule of thumb is these games is to tip the team that played at a higher level in the league.
But Offaly have home advantage and a championship win under their belts, even if they were hanging at the end against Longford.
Meath’s confidence has to be threadbare. They finished sixth in Division Two securing only one point from their last five games and they had the second worst defensive record in the division.
Lose today and they are in grave danger of missing out on a place in the 2023 Sam Maguire Cup. But a win keeps their hopes alive.
Ulster SFC quarter-final
Down v Donegal,
Pairc Esler, Newry, 2.0. BBC NI
This is a tricky match to call because Down were the most improved team in the league whereas Donegal are probably the most dis-improved side around.
New Down manager Conor Laverty had stopped the rot and they only narrowly missed on promotion from DivisionThree.
They were the second highest scorers in the division and the top goal scorers with 11 majors. Once any Down football team starts winning, their confidence soars.
Donegal are there for the taking. The players ousted the manager Paddy Carr even if he officially resigned.
They finished bottom of Division One, were the lowest scorers and managed just one goal in the league.
And they are without their three most influential players over the last decade, Michael Murphy (retired) and injured duo Patrick McBrearty and Ryan McHugh.
Still, they have an advantage in physically and athleticism and have played at a much higher level than Down.
It all depends on whether the Donegal players still have pride in the jerseys. If they apply themselves they should prevail.
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