The big talking points on bumper football weekend as four provincial finals take place

1. What spectacle can we expect in the Ulster final?

AFTER BIG WINS over Tyrone and Monaghan, Derry are a team flying high on confidence. They’ve got huge belief in manager Rory Gallagher after he masterminded their run to the Ulster final.

Rory Gallagher celebrates after the win over Monaghan.

Source: John McVitty/INPHO

It’s likely this clash will descend into a tactical arm wrestle between two sides who’ll look to sit deep and play on the counter.

Gallagher’s system sees Derry drop 15 men behind the ball. When they turn it over, they send two or three runners upfield to give them a kick pass option inside. How will it fare against Donegal?

Declan Bonner’s men know how to break down mass defences with their patient hand passing game. They’ll slow the pace of the game, probing until strike runners force a gap through angles of running. 

At the other end, Donegal will mirror Derry’s defensive shape, meaning this Ulster final won’t be one for the purists.

2. Kildare’s bid for a first Leinster title since 2000

Daniel Flynn is a key figure in the Kildare attack.

Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Given the firepower Kildare have in attack, they’ll fancy their chances of causing an upset in Croke Park later this evening. 

The case for the Lilywhites: The full-forward line of Daniel Flynn, Jimmy Hyland and Darragh Kirwan is electric. They have the athletes to live with Dublin. They beat their neighbours in the league in February. Dublin haven’t performed well against Division 1 teams so far in 2022. 

The narrative is that Dublin have turned a corner since their relegation from Division 1.

Dessie Farrell’s did look back to their best since the championship began, although Meath and Wexford offered little in the form of resistance. Kildare will target the Dublin full-back line with early deliveries. The key is can they take their goal chances when they come up?

If Kildare can hit the net twice or three times they’ve got a real chance of winning this game. At the far end, they’ll need to defend far better than they did against Westmeath. 

The Lilywhites must put Dublin on the back foot early on and show their ambition from the first whistle. 

3. Limerick attempt to quell Kerry’s firepower

Limerick will need to keep a close eye on Sean O’Shea.

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

If Limerick can escape Fitzgerald Stadium with their pride intact, it will be a case of ‘job well done’. As defeatist as it sounds, staying within 10 points of Kerry would represent a very good day’s work for Billy Lee’s side. 

The last thing the Treaty need is a soul-destroying hammering as they head into the qualifiers. 

The injury-enforced absence of David Clifford will give Limerick a welcome boost coming into the game.

They’ll most likely put a sweeper in front of the full-forward line in an attempt to deny Kerry the kick pass inside, as Cork did quite effectively in the semi-final. Kerry have the firepower to run up a huge score if they’re allowed go out and play football. 

“At the same time we have to back ourselves and attack the game and be positive,” said Lee this week. “We’re here to enjoy it – I keep saying that to the lads, that sport is here to be enjoyed.”


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While that much is true, Limerick will be realistic enough to know they need to ensure they are still in the game at half-time. They’ve got plenty of good athletes and the running game to hurt Kerry, but going defensive early on may be the wisest move to contain the Kingdom’s attacking riches.

4. Roscommon search for third win of 2022 over Galway

Shane Walsh runs at the Roscommon defence during the recent Division 2 final.

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Roscommon have already beaten Galway twice this season, so the Tribesmen are forewarned about the threat facing them.

The 1-20 Roscommon put past Galway in the Division 2 final forced Galway into a tactical rethink. It prompted the ploy of wing-backs Kieran Molloy and Dylan McHugh dropping back as defensive cover which helped down Mayo in the Connacht semi-final.

Roscommon are the only unbeaten team left in the country and they boast a strong record at Pearse Stadium. They’ve got six forwards of genuine quality, led by Enda Smith and Conor Cox, and another ace in Diarmuid Murtagh to bring off the bench.

If Molloy and McHugh drop off Cathal Heneghan and Ciarain Murtagh, they risk giving space to a pair of potent attackers.

Yet if Damien Comer and Shane Walsh can cut loose at the far end, Galway will feel confident about their chances of victory. Paul Conroy’s form at midfield as been one of the highlights of their season.

The fifth final between these counties in seven years should be an entertaining and free-scoring clash. While both look short of having the defences to mark them as All-Ireland contenders, the standard of forwards on show cannot be questioned.

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