At this stage of the All-Ireland football championship we have ten teams left in the competition.
After this weekend we will have eight by which time Donegal will know their opponents in the quarter finals. Armagh play Meath and Kildare face Monaghan at Croke Park on Saturday. Donegal’s opponents will come from the games taking place on Saturday evening. No doubt all of Donegal will watch these matches with interest.
We cannot play Monaghan again at this stage of the competition so it will be Armagh, Meath or Kildare. Dublin will play one of three teams also, Kildare, Monaghan or Armagh. Dublin cannot play Meath since these two teams have already played each other in the Leinster final.
My guess is that Donegal will play Armagh and Dublin will play Monaghan. Wouldn’t it be great if we met Monaghan in the All-Ireland semi final? Wishful thinking.
The script reads that Donegal will play Dublin in the All-Ireland semi final. It is important to caution against any such thinking just now.
After this weekend we will have the best eight teams in the country vying for the All-Ireland championship title. We already know that Kerry and Mayo will play Galway and Cork respectively in the quarter finals.
There is no room for complacency at this vital stage. Whichever team that Donegal play, it will certainly not be easy game. Every opponent from here on is difficult.
We were sensationally beaten by Mayo at this stage last year. Getting into the All-Ireland semi final will be Donegal’s short term objective. This will be one step further than last season.
Expectancy is such that most Donegal supporters do believe that Donegal will advance to a meeting with Dublin. The build up to this year’s Ulster final was quiet within the county either suggesting that the novelty of competing in Ulster finals has worn off or that people are waiting for bigger days in the weeks ahead. Perhaps it is a combination of both.
From a common sense approach, it is extremely important not to look past Saturday 9th August. It is true that Donegal are in a much better place than at the same period last year. To date we have a clean bill of health on the injury front. The team is sharp and we have strength in depth, a necessary prerequisite for success.
Out of the remaining teams left in the championship it is difficult to see any team challenge Dublin given their recent form. It must be added though that Dublin’s path so far has been exceptionally unflawed if not easy. And maybe too easy. This will not sit well with the management or the players if they are honest and critical about their opposition to date.
Kerry shocked everyone with their decisive victory over Cork in the Munster final. I still do not believe they or Mayo or Cork can seriously threaten Dublin either.
The only team that can give Dublin a game is Donegal. Both teams will respect whichever opposition they face in the quarter finals without doubt. That said, both teams will have expended too much sacrifice and energy to capitulate at this stage. Galway, Meath, Armagh and Kildare have all been beaten in the championship and all will have serious doubts about their pedigree to make a serious challenge for the ultimate prize.
Still, we have to urge caution and not to get carried away with what could or may happen.
If you have a television you will surely be aware of the Commonwealth Games which are presently taking place in Glasgow. To be perfectly honest I find it hard to warm to this sporting spectacle which is apparently the third largest multi-sport event in the world, after the Olympic Games and the Asian Games.
Once called the British Empire Games 71 nations participate although there are only 53 members remaining in the Commonwealth. Obviously the 18 non Commonwealth nations once were members. Unfortunately, the history of the British Empire is not all filled with glory. Britain invaded, ruled and plundered many nations as did Spain and Portugal.
Perhaps I’m very naïve but I cannot understand why these games take place at all. Without sounding too political, I suppose the games give the British a chance to tell us how great they are. It would be more fitting that they focus their energies on Israel, a state that they helped to create. And look at what Israel is doing to the Palestinians just now. The Empire is crumbling.
Anyway and more importantly, there will be no opting out in Sligo this Saturday when the Donegal minor team play Roscommon in the All-Ireland quarter final. I just want to wish Declan and his team all the very best for this important game. Keep the faith.