1. Cork’s moment of redemption
Cork’s footballers have come in for some stinging criticism since their double-scores defeat against Kerry in the Munster final earlier this month. Some of it was so vitriolic that GPA felt the need to step in, condemning it as “beneath contempt” in a statement.
None of it needed to be said because nobody was more disappointed than Brian Cuthbert and the players. This evening, they have a golden opportunity to redeem themselves and show that they are worthy contenders for the All-Ireland.
Sligo have gotten back on track with wins against Wicklow and Limerick already this month but the bookies have the measure of this contest. They make Cork red-hot 1/20 favourites and have set the spread at eight points.
Sligo would need a serious upset to progress to the quarter-finals but that will add to the pressure on Cork too. After falling so far short against Kerry, only a convincing win will do to steady the ship.
2. Wasteful Galway need to sharpen up
Galway were second best against Mayo in the Connacht final but after looking back at the tape, Alan Mullholland’s side will find a few positives in the seven-point defeat.
The three goals they conceded aside, they will take heart from the amount of chances they created going forward. The flipside is that they were very wasteful — they shot 12 wides, hit the woodwork three times, and saw Shane Walsh’s penalty saved by Rob Hennelly.
Still, they matched Mayo in the second half (2-5 to 0-11) and continued to battle even as the game fizzled out. They will need that same determination, along with some sharper shooting, to get past Tipp.
3. Can Tipp keep putting up big numbers?
Peter Creedon’s Premier men have arguably been the outstanding team of the qualifiers so far.
They walloped Longford by 2-17 to 0-6 at the start of the month and then put up a massive 3-17 against Laois in Round 3A. Conor Sweeney has been in impressive form too, notching 2-10 across those two games.
Add in their narrow miss against Cork in the Munster semi-finals and you get a fairly good picture of this group’s potential.
Padraic Joyce called this evening’s clash with Galway as a 50-50 toss-up on RTÉ Radio yesterday and it’s hard to disagree. If Tipp can keep putting up the big numbers, and tighten up the defence that leaked four goals against Laois, they should edge it.
This article was originally published at 7.30 and then updated at 13.30.