SFC previews: All eyes on HQ as four set to become two

August 10, 2018

Philly McMahon (Dublin), Damien Comer (Galway), Conor McManus (Monaghan) and Padraig Hampsey (Tyrone) will all have big roles to play in this weekend's All-Ireland SFC semi-finals at Croke Park.

It's All-Ireland semi-final weekend and here we preview both football clashes taking place at Croke Park…

 

Saturday, August 11th

All-Ireland SFC semi-final

Dublin v Galway, Croke Park, 5pm - RTE/Sky

East meets west at headquarters on Saturday evening in a game which sees Galway looking for their first win over Dublin in the championship since 1934.

The Tribesmen were inflicted with their second defeat of the season by Monaghan last time out and are 11/2 outsiders to conquer this capital juggernaut whose defeat count in the championship still stands at just one under Jim Gavin's watch.

In short, the Connacht champions have it all to do when they head east this weekend but they certainly have the talent within their ranks to provide the upset as Shane Walsh, Damien Comer and Ian Burke have portrayed all season long.

The supply will need to be steady for Galway's inside men and there should be some fascinating battles in that sector with Philly MacMahon and Jonny Cooper on guard in front of Stephen Cluxton.

That said, the Dubs' core strength this summer has come mostly around the centre with Brian Fenton and James McCarthy once again outstanding and it's an area where their western counterparts could well feel Paul Conroy's loss this weekend.

When these two last met in April it was four points which separated them on the scoreboard at Croker and, truth be told, the All-Ireland champions have been the ones to move further up the gears since then.

It all lends itself towards a seventh consecutive championship win for the Dubs over this opponent when all's said and done in the capital tomorrow evening.

Verdict: Dublin

 

Sunday, August 12th

All-Ireland SFC semi-final

Monaghan v Tyrone, Croke Park, 3.30pm - RTE/Sky

This one has the making of a genuine full-blooded derby at Croke Park on Sunday afternoon and seldom have the stakes been so high for any of the players involved.

Monaghan had to and did produce the goods in Salthill last time out to get here, while Tyrone's bench swung the tie in Ballybofey and now they face one another in what is very much a season definer.

An All-Ireland final looked far-fetched when each of these sides exited the Ulster championship and, ironically, it's Mickey Harte's team that are favourites (8/11) to advance to their county's first in an even decade despite their two-point loss at home to the Farney men on May 20th.

The brilliance of Conor McManus and Rory Beggan's expert free-taking were what made the difference for the visitors in Omagh that day and if Monaghan end up coming through here you get the feeling that either of or perhaps both those men will have made the difference in the end.

McManus has 2-40 to his name so far this summer and the early predictions are that Padraig Hampsey will be picking up the Clontibret star once both teams cross the white line in Croker.

Conor Meyler has been left out of Harte's squad after the injury he picked up against Donegal last weekend, with Rory Brennan coming in at right half-back to fill the void, and there'll be plenty more looking to make an impact off the bench once more for the Red Hands.

Harry Loughran and Lee Brennan both excelled when introduced the last day and Tyrone's deep squad could be what makes the difference once again this weekend.

Verdict: Tyrone

Follow this weekend's All-Ireland SFC and MFC semi-finals on the hoganstand.com live match tracker.



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