The final two All-Ireland quarter-finals are set to be played this Saturday at Croke Park but question marks still hover over all the teams involved.
Monaghan face Tyrone at 4pm in an all-Ulster clash while Donegal take on Connacht champions Mayo at 6pm. Question marks will always remain over teams and here at Pundit Arena, we have one big question for each team that will be answered come half-seven on Saturday evening.
Can Monaghan & McManus Push On?
”It’s no good getting to them you want to make them count when you are there. We have been to the last two quarter-finals and not gone any further. We want to win our next game and it is down to us.”
These are the words of Monaghan captain Conor McManus to the herald.ie.
After winning two of the last three Ulster titles, Monaghan are ready to push on. The question is, can they?
Quarter-final defeats to Dublin and Tyrone have seen Monaghan’s last two campaigns come to an end at this stage. However, the manner of their Ulster final win was very impressive and with conor McManus in flying form, Monaghan will be hoping to push on and reach an All-Ireland semi-final against reigning All-Ireland champions, Kerry.
Can Tyrone’s Young Guns Continue On Their March?
Tyrone have re-grouped admirably since their first round Ulster Championship loss to Donegal. In the qualifiers Mickey Harte’s men have overcome Limerick, Meath, Tipperary and Sligo to reach the quarter-final stages and set up a clash with Ulster rivals Monaghan.
Tyrone’s young players have really stepped up to the plate in the qualifiers but tomorrow’s clash provides a much stiffer test. The likes of Mark Bradley and Darren McCurry, along with the regulars in Sean Cavanagh, Peter Harte and Mattie Donnelly, have been central to Tyrone’s rejuvenation in the qualifiers.
The key for Tyrone tomorrow is how Bradley and McCurry will deal with a packed Monaghan defence.
Where Will Michael Murphy Play?
The same question, as always, remains before Donegal take to the field. Where will their captain and talisman line out?
Last week’s qualifier victory over Galway saw Michael Murphy have his first real chance at the edge of the square this summer and it proved a match-winning move. Murphy displayed all his class at full-forward, with the highlight being his deft flick to set up Ryan McHugh’s match-sealing goal.
Last week, Odhrán MacNiallais had a big influence around the middle sector of the pitch and if the Gaoth Dobhair man can have the same impact, Rory Gallagher may afford to leave Murphy inside and test Mayo’s questionable full-back line.
Can Mayo’s Unconvincing Defence Hold Up?
Mayo have been largely untested so far this summer. However, they have conceded concerning tallies, letting in four goals in their two championship games to date. Mayo have been in prominent form up front that won’t suffice this weekend against Donegal.
It remains to be seen who will line-out in their full-back line. Kevin Keane and Chris Barrett both started against Galway but were subsequently dropped for the final against Sligo while Ger Cafferkey started the final but was substituted after 45 minutes of action.
If Mayo’s defensive line can hold up, they have every chance of claiming a victory at Croke Park tomorrow with their potent attack. However, the question marks around their defence will remain.
So there you have it. Questions remain over all four teams.
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Seán Ó Murchú, Pundit Arena