What are the key questions ahead of today's three All-Ireland football games?

The race for the Sam Maguire Cup continues this weekend.

Cork v Donegal

Páirc Uí Rinn, 2.30pm – Group 3

patrick-mcbrearty-scores-a-goal-despite-sean-meehan Donegal's Patrick McBrearty scores a goal despite Sean Meehan of Cork. Ben Brady / INPHO Ben Brady / INPHO / INPHO

Both Cork and Donegal opened their respective group campaigns with wins.

Cork had to endure a nervy finish against Clare as they struggled to put them away, but they eventually won by two points in Ennis. Their wastefulness will be a concern: John Cleary’s side missed two big goal chances in the second half, with similar opportunities going a-begging against Kerry. Brian Hurley ultimately coughed up chances to point from frees.

The Rebels lost their league opener to Donegal on a scoreline of 1-20 to 2-6 in January. Donegal were up by six at half time, and ran out 11-point winners in dreadful conditions. Jim McGuinness’ men pinned Cork in early when they had the wind and put the game to bed, but will things be different in summer conditions given today’s forecast?

Last weekend, Donegal made a statement with a seven-point victory over Tyrone in Ballybofey. Eight of the team that started against Cork in the season opener played against the Red Hand.

As supporters burst onto the pitch after the final whistle, McGuinness and his players headed straight for the dressing room. From there, they departed for their training centre in Convoy to get away from the hype.

Job done, onto the next one. They’ll take a similarly professional approach on Leeside, where there’s no denying they will be firm favourites. It’s a tag they have worn well this season, will they continue to do so as the pressure ramps up?


Roscommon v Mayo

Dr Hyde Park, 5pm — Group 2 – GAAGO

aidan-oshea Aidan O'Shea facing Enda Smith last time out. James Lawlor / INPHO James Lawlor / INPHO / INPHO

As always, there will be no shortage of fire in this local derby. Mayo come in off the back of a 0-20 to 1-8 win over Cavan in Castlebar, while Roscommon fell short to Dublin last weekend.

Davy Burke’s crew need a win today to avoid an arm wrestle with Cavan for third place. They will be full of fight and hoping they can make home advantage at Dr Hyde Park count.

Mayo have won their two meetings to date in 2024, Roscommon really struggling to maintain their challenge. Kevin McStay’s side were 0-15 to 0-9 winners in the league at McHale Park in March, while they won their Connacht semi-final at the Hyde on a scoreline of 1-15 to 0-13. The Rossies trailed by a single point at the break on both occasions.

There’s optimism in how good they were for three quarters against Dublin. They were brave on the long-kickout while their inside forwards, Diarmuid Murtagh, Daire Cregg and Conor Cox, accounted for their entire 0-13 tally.

Mayo must plan for the rest of the season without Paddy Durcan, the captain suffering an ACL injury against Cavan, while Diarmuid O’Connor is out this weekend. They need to start firing if they are to make a splash this summer. They have been reliant on Ryan O’Dononghue before the posts; Tommy Conroy, Cillian O’Connor and Aidan O’Shea must step up inside.

Roscommon haven’t beaten Mayo at home in the championship since 2001 — can they overturn this unwanted record and reinvigorate their season?


Cavan v Dublin

Kingspan Breffni, 7pm – Group 2 – GAAGO

brian-fenton-and-gerard-smith Brian Fenton and Gerard Smith after that All-Ireland semi-final in 2020. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

The last time these sides met in championship fare, Dublin ran out 15-point winners. That was the 2020 All-Ireland semi-final, with no crowd present in Croke Park.

The Cavan team has changed drastically since, with All-Star goalkeeper Raymond Galligan now the manager and another of the recognised trio, Thomas Galligan, in Australia. 

Pádraig Faulkner is still leading the on-field charge, but four years later, a similarly one-sided encounter is widely expected.

The Dubs opened their All-Ireland title defence with a 2-19 to 0-13 win over the Rossies in Croke Park last Saturday. They finished with a flourish and will be looking to pick up where they left off on the road.

The Breffni, meanwhile, were comfortably beaten by Mayo in their opener after stunning Monaghan and running Tyrone close in Ulster. Days after their provincial exit, they suffered a hammer blow in losing star forward Paddy Lynch to an ACL injury. Oisín Brady has assumed free-taking duties in his absence, but Cavan already look to be struggling without Lynch. They only hit 1-8 against Mayo.

Dublin have come out on top in each of the counties’ five All-Ireland series clashes to date; it’s hard not to see this one running along expected lines.

Dessie Farrell’s champions will be eyeing top spot in Group 2 and an automatic quarter-final spot.

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