With the preliminary quarter-final matches in the All-Ireland series taking place this weekend, we look at the most noteworthy player battles that will draw fans in.
Brendan McCole v Darragh Canavan
Both of these players won the Man of the Match award in their final group games last weekend with Donegal powering past Monaghan, while Tyrone drew with Westmeath to finish third in their group.
In Darren McCurry’s absence from the team last weekend, Canavan led the line in stunning fashion for Tyrone, scoring 0-10 points, including four from play.
His younger brother Ruairí nailed three points out of a total of 0-18 on his first championship start.
Canavan’s brilliance against the Tailteann Cup winners was so immense it landed him with the Player of the Week award, while also garnering praise from across the GAA landscape, not least from his manager Fergal Logan.
“Full credit to everybody who dug in, but Darragh’s a special talent, we’re just blessed to have him,” said Logan.
“The auld boy (Peter) led us to the top of the mountain, we hope that Darragh leads us to the top of the mountain too.”
For Donegal’s McCole, he was the rock that landed the Tír Conaill men perhaps their most important but also their most impressive win this season with their victory over Monaghan.
The St Naul’s man held Jack McCarron to only one point from play in the entire 70 minutes.
While it was without a doubt his best performance in a Donegal jersey, the full-back will have little time to enjoy it, as he will quickly have to regroup and focus on stopping Canavan this Saturday.
With home advantage and only one championship defeat for Donegal in MacCumhaill Park since 2010, Aidan O’Rourke’s men will see this as a huge edge in going one-step further in this championship.
If McCole can hold Canavan off from scoring, Donegal have a chance.
But we still have yet to see a massive performance from the Red Hand side this season.
This match-up will be key to the winning and losing of the game.
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