Tuesday 23 July 2019

Analysis: Mayo and Tyrone won't be happy with qualifier draw but lower-division teams handed big opportunity

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Round 2 match between Longford and Tyrone at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park in Longford. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Tyrone manager Mickey Harte during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Round 2 match between Longford and Tyrone at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park in Longford. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

John Morley

The round three qualifier draw will see two teams from the top divisions bow out of the championship this weekend while the lower tier teams look ahead with glee.

The two Division One teams in the draw, Mayo and Tyrone, were dealt the tricky assignments of Armagh and Kildare respectively, with Mickey Harte faced with the daunting task of a trip to Newbridge.

Mayo will be most aggrieved with their draw against Kieran McGeeney's Armagh. James Horan's men got their season back on track in Newry but would have hoped for an easier pairing as they recover from injures throughout their panel.

Matthew Ruane is a big loss at midfield, while Cillian O'Connor and a number of the younger players are still recovering from injury. They will take solace in the stellar performance of David Clarke in Newry, as he proved why he is a two-time All-Star goalkeeper.

On the other side, Armagh will relish the chance to take on Mayo in Castlebar. They boast serious firepower in their forward line, with the likes of Stefan Campbell, Jamie Clarke and Rian O'Neill capable of inflicting real damage on the Mayo's defense.

The Orchard county have been one of the teams of the championship to date. Unlucky not to make an Ulster final, they have since proved their worth in dispatching Monaghan in ruthless fashion in Clones. It was the first hammering the Farney men had received at home for nearly twenty years.

Tyrone got the tough assignment of travelling to Newbridge to take on the Lilywhites. Tyrone staggered past qualifier kings Longford thanks to two early goals in round two.

Kildare will prove a much tougher task for the Red Hands. They have reverted back to their defensive formation after their Ulster humiliation at the hands of Donegal. The worry is that this will play into Kildare's hands if Tyrone allow them to build from the back.

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Kildare will be content with their draw. Although Tyrone are one of the tougher teams, it is also the litmus test that Cian O'Neill's side needs to prove themselves after a demoralising defeat to Dublin.

They have the forwards and the patience to deal with Tyrone's defence, with former U20 star Jimmy Hyland a massive find as a link man up front for their potent attackers.

Elsewhere the lower division teams have been paired off against each other and they will all fancy their chances of winning their round three matches and, if the draw is kind to them, be in with a serious chance of reaching the Super 8s.

Westmeath will face Clare while Offaly and Laois will do battle in an intriguing Leinster derby, with all teams on a high on the back of impressive round two wins.

John Maughan's Offaly will hope to bring pride to the Faithful supporters in the football championship and after their three-goal blitz of Sligo there is every reason to think that they will do just that.

Laois overcame Derry in Owenbeg and are probably more battle hardened than their midland neighbours, considering they reached a Leinster final last year.

Westmeath and Clare will be another close affair. The middle third contest between Clare's Gary Brennan and Westmeath's Kieran Martin promises to be one of the most mouthwatering clashes the qualifier matches serve up.

Cavan/Galway/Cork/Meath will not be feared by whoever comes out of these round three matches, however, Cork look the most dangerous based on provincial final form.

Online Editors

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