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Dublin: 18 °C Friday 3 July, 2020
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Your essential guide to the weekend's GAA football championship action

The business end of the All-Ireland series starts here – and only six teams will be left standing after this weekend’s games.

EVERY WEEKEND, OUR Friday football preview will give you the who, the what, the why, the when and the where ahead of the weekend’s GAA championship action, as well as statistics from analyst Christy O’Connor.

Here are the four games you can look forward to this weekend. For a chance to win Senior Championship game tickets courtesy of eir, click here

Connaire Harrison and Drew Wylie Down's Connaire Harrison and Drew Wylie of Monaghan. Source: Presseye/Philip Magowan/INPHO

Monaghan v Down

All-Ireland SFC Qualifiers Round 4B

When? Saturday, 5pm
Where? Croke Park
TV? Sky Sports Arena

Grudge matches don’t come with much more of an edge than this. Down turned many pre-championship predictions on their head when they unceremoniously dumped Monaghan out of Ulster in June. Now, just five weeks later, Malachy O’Rourke’s side have their chance to exact a swift revenge.

The chip on their shoulder aside, Monaghan are far more experienced when it comes to summer football in Croke Park. They will start as firm favourites to reverse the form – but if Down can bring the same sort of aggression and intensity that they showed when the sides met in the Athletic Grounds, they won’t be far off.

Christy O’Connor says: If Monaghan beat Down on Saturday, they will advance to their fourth All-Ireland quarter-final in five years, which highlights how consistent the team has been under Malachy O’Rourke.

The42′s verdict: Monaghan

Kildare’s Paddy Brophy scores a goal Paddy Brophy's goal was only a consolation against Dublin. Can Kildare bounce back against Armagh? Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Kildare v Armagh

All-Ireland SFC Qualifiers Round 4B

When? Saturday, 7pm
Where? Croke Park
TV? Sky Sports Arena

Croke Park might have belonged to Bono last Saturday night, but come 7pm tomorrow, it will be Kieran McGeeney who takes centre stage.

‘The Geezer Derby’ pits his current charges, Armagh, against the county he brought to the cusp of an All-Ireland final in 2010, Kildare. It’s now four years since he left the Lilywhites but McGeeney’s fingerprints can still be seen, though Cian O’Neill has done a terrific job of putting his own stamp on this team in his first two seasons.

Even in defeat to Dublin, they looked like a side that might well have a say in the championship this summer, and it’s a huge boost that Kevin Feely, who lorded it in midfield for large parts of the Leinster final, is free to play.

Armagh’s defeat to Down is a distant memory at this stage, and qualifier wins against Fermanagh, Westmeath and Tipperary have them right back on track with minimal fanfare. Niall Grimley has been central to their progress this season, and if he can get on top in what promises to be a titanic midfield battle, Armagh will give themselves a puncher’s chance of an upset.

Christy O’Connor says: In their last match against Tipperary, Armagh’s Jamie Clarke, Gavin McPartland and Rory Grugan had a combined 65 possessions. Those possessions only yielded 1-4 from play but they had a combined nine scoring assists over the 70 minutes.

The42′s verdict: Kildare

Johnny Heaney celebrates scoring a point Galway’s Johnny Heaney celebrates against Donegal - but Kerry will present a much stiffer test. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Kerry v Galway

All-Ireland SFC quarter-finals

When? Sunday, 2pm
Where? Croke Park
TV? RTÉ 2

Very few people outside of Galway would have predicted last weekend’s 15-point evisceration of Donegal; very few people inside Galway too, truth be told.

But here they are, their Connacht final blip against Roscommon erased, showing lots of signs of the form that helped them to promotion and a Division 2 title in the spring.

They haven’t faced a side quite like Kerry, who have cruised into the quarter-finals without really needing to show their hand. Paul Geaney and James O’Donoghue have barely put a foot wrong in their two championship outings to date, combining for 1-25 (1-13 from play).

Keeping them quiet needs to be Galway’s top priority if they’re to have any chance of winning a Croke Park quarter-final for the very first time.

Christy O’Connor says: In the history of All-Ireland quarter-finals, nobody has scored more goals at that stage of the competition than Kerry’s Darran O’Sullivan. Five of his seven goals in the All-Ireland Series have come in the last 8; against Armagh in 2006, Limerick in 2011, Kildare in 2015 (when O’Sullivan bagged 2), while he raised one green flag against Clare last year.

The42′s verdict: Kerry

Aidan O'Shea Aidan O'Shea and Mayo have given their loyal fans some nervy moments already this summer. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Mayo v Roscommon

All-Ireland SFC quarter-finals

When? Sunday, 4pm
Where? Croke Park
TV? RTÉ 2

Sunday afternoon’s main event might well turn out to be the tie of the weekend. We’ve lost count of how many of their nine lives this Mayo side have used up over the last few weeks, but it must be into double digits after their near-miss against Cork last Saturday night. For the second time this summer, their long-suffering fans were put through the trauma of extra time, but when all was said and done, the team that wouldn’t die was still breathing.

The main question now is: can they keep it going? There are a lot of miles and minutes in those legs for a team who weren’t getting any younger anyway, and now they’ve to take on a Roscommon team who are not only fresh, but still riding the high of their brilliant performance in the Connacht final.

Of all the games that might throw up a shock this weekend, this seems the most likely – but then again, it’s Mayo.

Christy O’Connor says: Andy Moran has scored from play in his last nine All-Ireland quarter-final appearances. Moran has never scored more than 0-2 but never less than 0-1 in those nine games.In their game against Cork last weekend, Cillian O’Connor, Aidan O’Shea, Keith Higgins, Chris Barrett, Tom Parsons and Diarmuid O’Connor had a colossal 189 possessions. Cillian O’Connor shot six points from play but Mayo still had ten different scorers from play.Since the All-Ireland quarter-finals were introduced in 2001, Roscommon have played in three All-Ireland quarter-finals, losing all three; to Galway in 2001, Kerry in 2003 and Cork in 2010. The last time Roscommon played a championship match in Croke Park was a Round 4 qualifier against Tyrone in 2011, which they lost by 11 points.

The42′s verdict: Roscommon

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‘Playing quarter-finals in Croke Park is where you want to be in July’

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About the author:

Niall Kelly

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