Powerful Lilywhites to ramp up pressure on McEnaney
DUBLIN'S failure to land an All-Ireland seems to be slowly reducing their appeal at the turnstiles and they are certainly not the main attraction on Sunday.
Meath's managerial soap opera, along with the intense interest in Kieran McGeeney's search for silverware with the Lilies, means that the spotlight will really be on the opening encounter at Croke Park -- one I expect Kildare to win.
In Dublin, there's usually a nagging feeling that Meath can spring a display from nowhere, just like they did last year, so you'll find most commentators in town are cautious about this contest.
We know that off-field difficulties can sometimes galvanise a team but they can also work the other way and we probably won't know exactly where manager Seamus McEnaney (right) and Meath are at until they face Kildare.
With the exception of their full-forward line, it's hard to rate Meath as a top-tier team at the moment.
But this is a chance for them to prove otherwise and derby games are ideal for such a challenge.
It may end up being somewhere in between, of course, with Meath proving they've something to build on in defeat.
Either way, it's going to take a serious performance by Meath to stop the knives being sharpened in Navan.
Despite a disappointing league run, Kildare showed against Wicklow that they are a well-drilled unit under McGeeney, physically and mentally strong and led by a real warrior in Johnny Doyle. They stepped up well to this contest last year and should do so again.
Cork's price of 1/500 says it all about their clash with Waterford.
Kerry's task against Limerick at the Gaelic Grounds tomorrow is obviously a lot stiffer, but the result seems just as inevitable, while Tyrone's end-of-league form suggests they'll also reassert their dominance over Monaghan.
PS: I'd like to express my sympathies to the families and friends of two great GAA people lost to us in the capital over the last week -- Anthony 'Gossy' Costello from Finbarr's and Tom Twomey from Erins Isle.