Race For Sam: The 4 teams bidding for All-Ireland football glory


Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Their recent semi-final history involves…no appearance at this stage for 17 years. Galway’s last semi-final was way back in 2001 when they defeated Derry by 1-14 to 1-11 before going on to win the final. They did win three semi-finals in four years between 1998 and 2001, but haven’t been back since.

The player they cannot do without is…Damien Comer. Galway’s defensive system means they’re often outnumbered in attack but Comer has the pace and power to take on defences on his own. If Galway can find Comer with kick-passes from the middle third, he’ll draw fouls and create scoring chances. If their build-up play is too slow, Dublin will attempt to crowd him out.

They will be happy because…they’re the reigning Connacht champions and have given Dublin two seriously stern tests already this year. Galway are very comfortable with their counter-attacking system and they’ve got the ruthless streak required to beat the big boys.

They will be worried because…last weekend’s lifeless display against Monaghan was their worst of the season. Kevin Walsh put out a very strong team but Galway looked way off the pace. With just a seven-day turnaround before the biggest game of their season, Galway need to recoup quickly.


Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

Their recent semi-final history involves…wins, mainly. Dublin have played eight All-Ireland semi-finals since 2011 and lost just twice. Their last defeat was against Donegal in 2014. In the years since, they’ve beaten Mayo (after a replay), Kerry and Tyrone. Jim Gavin will be hoping to add Galway to that list today.

The player they cannot do without is…Ciaran Kilkenny. The Castleknock man is just 25 but is one of Dublin’s real leaders alongside Stephen Cluxton, James McCarthy and Brian Fenton. Kilkenny regularly hits 30 possessions in a game and dictates the tempo of the attack, while he’s a serious threat when he spends time in the full-forward line.

They will be happy because…Kerry and Mayo are already out.  The only two teams to put Dublin to the pin of their collars in championship football in recent years haven’t made it this far in the competition. Plus, Bernard Brogan is back from injury and could play a major role off the bench today.

They will be worried because…today’s game against the Tribesmen could be a washout. Heavy rain is expected to fall in Croke Park later today and the wet conditions generally suit defenders and make life difficult for attackers.


Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Their recent semi-final history involves… defeats. It’s been a decade since Tyrone’s last trip to the All-Ireland final. They lost to Mayo by six in 2013, to Kerry by four in 2015 and to Dublin by 12 last August.

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The player they cannot do without is…Mattie Donnelly. The Trillick midfielder is Tyrone’s pulse in midfield. His driving runs forward and accuracy in front of the posts are vital to Mickey Harte’s side.

They will be happy because…they’ve been in sublime form and have a very good record in Croke Park against Monaghan. The Red Hand dumped Monaghan out in quarter-final stage in 2013 and 2015. Despite losing to the Farney in Ulster earlier this summer, Tyrone feel they’ve got the edge over their provincial rivals at HQ.

They will be worried because…Monaghan took Galway’s defensive structure apart last weekend. The Farney kept the width in their attack and pitched holes in the Tribe rearguard with incisive runs from Karl O’Connell and Vinny Corey.


Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Their recent semi-final history involves…no appearance since 1988. The All-Ireland quarter-final stage proved to be Monaghan’s glass ceiling during Malachy O’Rourke’s tenure, but they’ve burst through that now.

The player they cannot do without is…Conor McManus. Rory Beggan is a close second, but in McManus Monaghan boast the best forward left in the competition. He’s the top scorer in the All-Ireland SFC with 2-35 to his name over seven games.

They will be happy because…they’re back in the All-Ireland semi-finals for the first time in 30 years and Ulster opposition stands in their way of making a final. Monaghan may never have a better chance of making a decider.

They will be worried because…they’ve beaten Tyrone once this year and Harte will have spent hours hatching a game plan to reverse that result. Tyrone always believe they’ll beat Monaghan and ended their interests in the All-Ireland phase twice in the last six years.

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