It is a big weekend of GAA action with two massive All-Ireland football quarter-finals on Saturday and the first of the hurling semi-finals on Sunday. Here we pick who we think will be five key men over the three games.
- Derek McGrath – Waterford
Why pick a manager? Is it not all about the players on the pitch? Not in this instance. The key question is how will Derek McGrath set his players up against Kilkenny. They have been very poor in the last two games against Tipperary and Wexford. Is there a trump card up his sleeve? Has he been taking a chance and looked ahead to this game and this game only? We will find out on Sunday.
- Diarmuid O’Connor – Mayo
Mayo are underdogs heading into Saturday’s game with Tyrone. They are coming into a quarter-final while struggling to come through the back door. Does anybody think there could a resemblance with Kerry back in 2009? After struggling to beat Sligo, Longford and Antrim, nobody gave Kerry a hope against Dublin and they wiped the floor with them. Diarmuid O’Connor has inspired Mayo this year, will he be able to lead them against Tyrone?
- Michael Murphy – Donegal
There surely has to be a big game in Michael Murphy. He has had a poor year by his standards in 2016, having little influence on games. It was a similar situation in 2012 prior to the All-Ireland final when Murphy scored a goal inside the first five minutes setting Donegal on track to lift Sam Maguire. If Donegal are to have any hope against Dublin, one has to think a big game from Murphy is needed.
- Jonny Cooper – Dublin
This could be Dublin’s first big test without Rory O’Carroll. The edge of the square has not been attacked yet and now Michael Murphy, Patrick McBrearty, Ryan McHugh, Frank McGlynn, Karl Lacey and Odhrán MacNiallais are coming. We saw what happened the last time Dublin played Donegal. The defence was open and Donegal capitalised. Will they be able to expose Cooper at 3?
- Rory Gallagher – Donegal
From a Donegal perspective, will we see a repeat of 2011, or will we see a repeat of 2014? We may not see either as Dublin may just go out and beat Donegal like they have tended to do with most teams that stand in their way. But Rory Gallagher’s set up will be interesting. The Ulster final may edge towards a 2011 style game, but Gallagher may put Michael Murphy right in on Jonny Cooper and go for an aerial bombardment. Either way, the Donegal manager is an important figure.