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GAA’s weekend football previews and predictions

Conor Breslin runs through the Gaelic football fixtures this weekend and gives his predictions and key talking points

Conor Breslin runs through the Gaelic football fixtures this weekend and gives his predictions.

All-Ireland SFC round 3

Monaghan v Donegal, O’Neills Healy Park, 6.0, GAAGO
Monaghan’s only focus for this round 3 clash is to finish top of the group.

The Farney men have a good record over Donegal in recent years, but Vinny Corey’s side face an outfit gradually improving after a desperate start to the year with a good victory over Clare last month, as well as a lot of positives taken from their defeat to Derry in round 2.

Aidan O’Rourke’s men could still top the group, but it seems very unlikely as Derry would need to lose to a Clare side who have nothing to play for.
Verdict: Monaghan

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Derry v Clare, Glennon Brothers Pearse Park, 6.0
Clare is the only side who cannot qualify for the knock-out stages in the All-Ireland series.

Derry on the other hand are already guaranteed a place in the last 12, but their main aim is to finish top of the group and secure an automatic quarter-final spot.

Scoring difference might come into play here considering their draw in the opening round to Monaghan.

Both The Farney County and Derry sit on +5 going into the weekend, so the Oak Leafers will have one eye on events in Tyrone, hoping Donegal can put it up to the Monaghan.
Verdict: Derry

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Tailteann Cup quarter-finals

Cavan v Down, Kingspan Breffni, 5.15, GAAGO
The Down panel we saw in complete turmoil last season feels like almost a decade ago now, considering how much the five-time All-Ireland champions have improved under Conor Laverty.

Their defeat to Meath was a setback but they were able to bounce back with a convincing victory last week over a Longford side who really put it up to them for large portions of the match.

On the other side, Mickey Graham’s Cavan look like the team best equipped to go all the way in the competition.

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Considering their Ulster title win in 2020 and their Tailteann Cup final appearance last season, nothing less than winning this competition will be good enough for this Breffni side.
Verdict: Cavan

Meath v Wexford, Pairc Tailteann, 4.0
Meath boss Colm O’Rourke has placed faith in many newcomers throughout this Tailteann Cup campaign, handing out debuts to players such as Aaron Lynch and Conor Gray.

The Royals are favourites on home turf and are more than capable in seeing off this Wexford side, but the men from the south-east nailed 1-22 — all from play — past an extremely lethargic and tired Offaly side.

While Meath will overall be too strong, Wexford should not be counted out so early, but will they have enough fire in the tank to it for a third week?
Verdict: Meath

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Limerick v Laois, TUS Gaelic Grounds, 3.0, GAAGO
Limerick are finding their feet again after a change of manager midstream while Laois landed a blow when seeing off Fermanagh last time out, with Billy Sheehan’s men expected to go close here.

The counties last squared up in Division 3 of the National Football League in O’Moore Park in 2022 when the Treaty won by a single point.

Mark Fitzgerald’s Treaty topped group three of the Tailteann Cup after wins over Longford and Carlow before their loss to Wicklow, at which stage qualification for the last eight had already been secured.

Evan O’Carroll, Mark Barry and Paul Kingston will be the danger men that Limerick will have to stop if they hope to secure the victory.
Verdict: Laois

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All-Ireland SFC round 3

Galway v Armagh, Avant Money Pairc Sean MacDiarmada, 4.0, RTÉ2
A repeat of last year’s memorable quarter-final that saw an ugly brawl and penalty shootout drama.

A draw is enough for Galway to secure top spot and direct access to a quarter-final. Armagh can still take first place but need to win here and see Tyrone fail to win.

Galway have improved since last year and are the only team with a 100 per cent championship record this season.

Even though Galway have failed to score a goal in the All-Ireland series and have injury concerns surrounding Shane Walsh and Rob Finnerty, it is difficult to see them losing.

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However, it may once again go down to the wire.
Verdict: Galway

Tyrone v Westmeath, Kingspan Breffni, 4.0, GAAGO
It is do-or-die for Dessie Dolan’s men who have looked like they belong at this level despite having nothing to show for their efforts.

While Westmeath are bottom of the group, they were very unlucky in both games and against Armagh, the Ulster finalists did not take the lead until the 66th minute when Kieran McGeeney’s side landed a soft goal.

Tyrone can secure progress with a draw but scoring difference could prove vital here with Tyrone and Armagh on –1 and Westmeath on –9.

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The Ulster men are slowly improving and their win against their closest rivals Armagh was their first championship win in four outings.
Verdict: Tyrone

Kerry v Louth, Laois Hire O’Moore Park, 2.0
Louth have to win here to progress into the last 12 while Kerry could see their season come to an end with defeat here and a win for Cork over Mayo.

It would be history repeating itself if Mickey Harte’s team could cause an upset by defeating the Kingdom – something he has done so often in the past.

Kerry should progress here but score difference could prove vital for placings with the Kingdom and Louth on –3 and Cork on zero score difference.
Verdict: Kerry

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Cork v Mayo, TUS Gaelic Grounds, 2.0, GAAGO
A draw would be enough for Kevin McStay’s Mayo to take top spot.

The final placings in this group will all depend on which Mayo team turns up to the Gaelic Grounds.

Cork are also very much in the fight to qualify and are through so long as Louth don’t beat Kerry.

The Rebels have improved so much since their loss to Clare in the Munster championship and like their match against Kerry, the men from Leeside will not fear Mayo.

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They had a 58 per cent shooting efficiency against Kerry and had they been more clinical, they might have beaten the Kingdom.
Verdict: Mayo

Dublin v Sligo, Kingspan Breffni, 1.45, GAAGO
Perhaps the most important group with regards to score difference.

With just two points separating Roscommon in top spot and Sligo at the foot of the table, Dublin and the Rossies — who are both assured of places in the last 12 — will be looking to win their matches by large margins to avoid a preliminary quarter-final.

Dublin are on +9 chasing Roscommon on +10 for top spot. Sligo are just one point worse off than Kildare on score difference.
Verdict: Dublin

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Roscommon v Kildare, Glenisk O’Connor Park, 1.45, RTÉ
The talking point here all centres on Roscommon manager Davy Burke, who will be keen to grab top spot and continue his impressive work with the county.

Kildare know that if they better Sligo’s result against Dublin they’ll progress.

Don’t be expecting either Kildare or Sligo to win, but do expect both sides try their hardest to produce a chess match of such, as they attempt to stay with their opponents for as long as possible.
Verdict: Roscommon

Tailteann Cup quarter-final
Antrim v Carlow, Corrigan Park, 1.0
Though New York led for the majority of the first half, Carlow’s match experience throughout the season came to the fore as they powered home to see them continue their exciting run in these year’s campaign.

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Andy McEntee’s Antrim have beaten the likes of Cavan in Corrigan Park this year while also topping Group Four by overcoming Leitrim (3-18 to 2-12), Wexford (2-15 to 0-14) and Fermanagh (3-13 to 1-12). Dark horses in this competition.
Verdict: Antrim

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