Last week’s games in the Connacht Championship signalled the start of another summer of Gaelic Football action and given what’s at stake this year, it’s all set up to be one of the most exciting in recent years.
Dublin have a chance to clinch that elusive five in a row but there are plenty of teams gunning to be their downfall including Mayo, Tyrone, Kerry and Donegal, to name a few.
Our GAA writers, Marisa Kennedy and Michael Corry, gave us their predictions on whether or not Dublin can achieve their ‘Drive for Five’ as well as who will be the various provincial champions.
You can read their hurling championship predictions here.
1. Munster Champions
Marisa Kennedy: Despite Clare’s strides in recent years, Kerry remain miles ahead of their competition and they should have no problem getting out of Munster.
Michael Corry: Desperately unlucky that Clare have drawn Kerry yet again in a Munster semi-final. Colm Collins’ side deserve a provincial final appearance considering the inroads they’ve made in recent seasons. However, Kerry have Munster sewn up.
2. Leinster Champions
MK: I think the time for Kildare and Meath to seriously challenge Dublin on Leinster final day is still a bit away. Jim Gavin’s side should walk away with the title without too much bother.
MC: Dublin. Hopefully, Meath or Kildare can at least challenge them this year but it’s Dublin’s Delaney Cup once more.
3. Ulster Champions
MK: Ulster is by far the most hotly-contested provincial competition in my book. Donegal are well capable of retaining their Ulster crown but given how poor Tyrone were in the competition last year, I think Mickey Harte will be keen to take the shortest possible route to the Super 8s.
MC: Arguably the toughest call across both codes. Donegal, Monaghan and Tyrone could all take home the Anglo-Celt trophy. Given their end to the league, I think Tyrone have proven they are at present the strongest side in Ulster.
4. Connacht Champions
MK: Mayo appear a reinvigorated side under James Horan and I think 2019 will be the year they finally shake that Galway-shaped monkey off their backs. Their key players have come back to fitness at just the right time and they will have gained huge confidence from their league final win.
MC: Mayo are back. Their league title will only fill them full of confidence heading into the Connacht campaign. I fully expect them to dispatch of both Galway and Roscommon.
5. All Ireland Finalists
MK: I think we’ll see the return of the Dublin v Kerry rivalry in this year’s All Ireland final.
MC: Dublin v Mayo. As I said, I believe Mayo are back and with James Horan at the helm, they will make a run to another All-Ireland final.
6. All Ireland Champions
MK: Currently, it’s hard not to see Dublin doing the five-in-a-row. Rory O’Carroll’s return clears up any lingering doubts about their defence and their forward unit is by far the most efficient in the country.
MC: Dublin to make history and become the first team across either code to complete the drive-for-five.
7. Footballer of the Year
MK: As a whole, Ciaran Kilkenny is the best footballer in the country. He may not have shown his best form in the league but we are all aware of his talent and no one would have argued had he won the title in 2018.
MC: Whilst we haven’t seen the same sparkling form from Ciaran Kilkenny as last season, I fully expect him to make a huge impact on this season’s campaign. If Dublin do complete the five-in-a-row, one of their players is going to get the award. Kilkenny will want the trophy this year after missing out to close pal Brian Fenton in 2018.
8. Young Footballer of the Year
MK: Sean O’Shea is currently the most in-form footballer in the country and if he continues that form, he’ll be in the mix for the Footballer of the Year and should definitely be the Young Footballer of the Year.
MC: He’s eventually going to be one of the top players in the country. I expect Sean O’Shea to continue on in his rich vein of form for Kerry and collect the Young Player of the year award.
9. Major Talking Point
MK: No doubt, the topic of a tiered championship will come up time and again throughout the season if the “traditional” teams continue to dominate. I would like to see a team like Clare, Meath etc. make major strides this year but I can’t imagine any major surprises in the teams that make it to the Super 8s.
MC: Considering all of the hype that has followed Leitrim throughout the epic league campaign it will be interesting to see if they can transfer that into a championship run.