Week one of the Super 8s proved to be anything but ‘super’ but plenty of drama is promised this weekend as Roscommon and Donegal fight for survival before Dublin and Tyrone go head-to-head. We preview all of today’s action.
Roscommon v Donegal: Dr. Hyde Park, 5pm.
Roscommon find themselves in a very unfortunate position this week having received a trouncing last Saturday at the hands of Tyrone. Next week, they must face into a trip to Croke Park to face Dublin meaning that even if they get two points from today’s game, they realistically won’t qualify for the semi-finals. But the logistics of their situation should have no bearing on today’s performance. Kevin McStay will want to prove that his side are better than they showed last weekend and deserve to be called one of the top eight teams in the country. Some of their most relied upon players were forced out of the game by Tyrone and they will focus their play on bringing the likes of Cathal Cregg and Niall Kilroy more into the game while they will have to allow Enda Smith to have more freedom on the ball.
Donegal will be disappointed with the result in Croke Park last weekend. Dublin were not at their best and the Ulster champions failed to take their opportunities to really rattle the Dubs. But they showed enough promise to remain in contention for a semi-final spot. The loss of Paddy McBrearty is massive and while Jamie Brennan has taken over the majority of the scoring responsibility, Donegal need Michael Murphy to have more of an impact in the game. He was reliable from placed balls last Saturday but was practically non-existent in open play. Another issue they will have to sort out is their kick-outs with the All Ireland champions finding them much too easy to read and intercept. But if they can sort out those small issues, they should be able to edge out a win.
Tyrone v Dublin: Healy Park, 7pm.
Probably the most highly anticipated clash of the Super 8 group stages. So much has been made of the venue, Tyrone with home advantage in Healy Park. Reports suggest that they have even narrowed the pitch to try and counter Dublin’s style of play. Owen Mulligan spoke during the week about the need for the fans to make it hostile, intimidating and uncomfortable for the All Ireland champions. Of course the supporters can only do so much and it is entirely up to the players once the whistle blows. But these players really have a steely air of confidence around themselves at the moment. Niall Sludden is leading the charge from the front while Peter Harte is in flying form. This really is going to be the battle of Omagh and one in which Tyrone will fancy themselves to emerge victorious.
Despite the win last weekend, Dublin were entirely underwhelming. They had chances to kill off Donegal but missed them all while making uncharacteristic mistakes and hitting an unprecedented number of wides. If it wasn’t for Niall Scully’s brace of goals, the scoreline would have read much differently. What saved them was the absolute strength of their squad. Brian Howard was one of the more impressive players while all their substitutes made an impression on the game. Their heads are dropping while Tyrone are flying. They are playing outside of Croke Park for the first time in a number of matches and are facing into their toughest challenge yet.If any other team were in their position, you wouldn’t give them a chance but this is Dublin and you never know what surprises Jim Gavin has up his sleeve.