Sport GAA

Friday 19 October 2018

Semi-final pairings underline quality of league's top four

Peter Keane: In frame for Kerry job. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Peter Keane: In frame for Kerry job. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

The inaugural All-Ireland quarter-final series has thrown up a direct parallel to the Allianz League with the top four Division 1 teams contesting the All-Ireland semi-finals next weekend, underlining how the new system is designed to ensure, as much as possible, that the best teams will win through to the penultimate stages.

Galway and Dublin shared top billing after the regulation seven rounds of the league last March and will contest the first All-Ireland semi-final on Saturday evening in Croke Park (5.0pm), having met in the league final in April.

Dublin are now the only unbeaten championship team after Galway's loss to Monaghan in Salthill on Saturday night.

Monaghan and Tyrone, who were third and fourth in the league and met in an Ulster quarter-final in May when Monaghan were victorious by two points, will meet in the other semi-final on Sunday (3.30).

It will be their third Croke Park championship meeting in six years, with Tyrone winning both All-Ireland quarter-finals, in 2013 and 2015.

Tyrone have lost their last four All-Ireland semi-finals (2009, 2013, 2015 and 2017) since last contesting and winning an All-Ireland final in 2008.

Monaghan, who have not been in an All-Ireland semi-final since 1988, will also have their minor (U-17) team, managed by former senior manager Seamus McEnaney, in action on Sunday when they sill take on Kerry.

Quickly

After his side's seven-point win over Donegal, Tyrone manager Mickey Harte warned that they'd need to get their feet back on the ground quickly to rise to the challenge.

"A semi-final is a dangerous place to be, beaten semi-finalists are forgotten very quickly. So this is a huge match next week," he said.

Tyrone defender Ronan McNamee, who scored their last point, almost missed the match because of a leg injury.

"I got a bang on the shin so I couldn't really walk properly for about eight days.

"I was off work for about four, so it wasn't great, to be brutally honest.

"This here seemed miles away but I have a game-ready machine at the house, I must have spent about £100 on ice this week.

"It's still not 100pc - definitely not - but it got me through," McNamee said.

Meanwhile, Kerry will begin their search for a new manager this week after the departure of Éamonn Fitzmaurice.

Peter Keane, the current minor manager who has overseen the last two All-Ireland minor triumphs, is the early favourite.

Super 8s group 1 table

P W D L PD Pts

Monaghan3 2 1 0 +10 5

Galway 32 0 1 -24

Kerry 311 1 +9 3

Kildare300 3 -170

Super 8s group 2 table

P W D L PD Pts

Dublin 33 0 0 +226

Tyrone3 2 0 1 +22 4

Donegal 31 0 2 -5 2

Roscommon300 3 -390

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