Gavin Quinn previews this weekend’s All Ireland Football Quarter Finals, where Monaghan, Donegal and Armagh will all be hoping to join Mayo and Kerry in the All Ireland Semi Finals with victories in Croke Park.
Ulster champions Donegal will look to continue their winning ways this year when they face an Armagh side that have been gaining in confidence and momentum after a successful qualifying campaign in the curtain raiser at 4pm in Croke Park.
The second game, Leinster and All Ireland Champions Dublin face their first big test of this years Championship in the form of 2013 Ulster Champions Monaghan following the first game at 6pm.
Here’s what to expect:
1. Armagh Onslaught
Given Armagh’s steady build up of momentum and confidence you could not blame Armagh fans for developing an almost impulsive feeling that they can topple Donegal.
Donegal are undoubtedly the favourites to beat the ‘underdogs’ but this writer expects Armagh to give a lot more than many are giving them credit for and give Jim McGuinness plenty of problems to deal with.
2. Dubs To Step Up A Gear
A fired up Monaghan, hurting after 2013’s Quarter Final defeat will definitely resemble more of a threat to burst the Dublin bubble than their Leinster opposition, of whom asked little questions of the Dublin defence.
Jim Gavin will be expecting his players to rise to the occasion and reach the heights of last year and even to better them. Monaghan will look to frustrate ‘The Boys in Blue’ On their home turf with their defensive approach but ultimately, It’s Dublin’s game to loose.
3. A Footballing Masterclass
In recent history, the All Ireland Quarter Final has proved an ideal environment for an individual performance that lights up the Championship, which is in demand given this year’s ‘stale’ championship. From Diarmuid Connolly’s demolition of Tyrone in 2011 to Cillian O Connor’s rampage on Donegal last year, recent history speaks for itself.
Whether it’s Bernard Brogan, Conor McManus, Michael Murphy or Jamie Clarke, we all know the All Ireland Quarter Finals has proved that it is a stage for a star to rise.
5. Battles Of Attrition
Three of the four teams in tomorrow’s games are Ulster teams and are considered defensive teams which almost guarantees that the two games are likely to be hard hitting and heated battles. We could be looking at a low scoring affair with the majority of the scores expected to come from dead ball.
Dublin are the exception to this given their attacking pedigree but face a potentially frustrating encounter against Monaghan. Donegal and Armagh, both defensive teams will ensure that you will see a low scoring game and a battle of strength, resolve and stamina.
Gavin Quinn, Pundit Arena.