Friday 27 January 2023 Dublin: 3°C
# Crystal Ball Gazing
5 provincial senior football championship clashes we'd love to see this summer
Please make these happen.

1. Mayo v Roscommon – Connacht SFC final

James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

We’d love to see this one happening. Mayo, going for 6-in-a-row in Connacht, against Roscommon, who won it last in 2010.

Roscommon were flying until they ran into Kerry in the League semi-final while Mayo operated very much below the radar throughout the spring, presumably with one eye on the summer.

The provincial draw has kept these two counties apart – until a potential Connacht final.

Roscommon joint-boss Kevin McStay against his native county would add further spice to the mix and another Mayo hero, Liam McHale, is also working with the Rossies.

There’s some work to be done for both to set up this dream showpiece, however.

Roscommon stuttered past New York and will have to beat Leitrim and Sligo to make the final, with Mayo up against ancient rivals Galway in the last four, provided the holders vault the London hurdle.

2. Cork v Kerry – Munster SFC final

Cathal Noonan / INPHO Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

On all-known form, another Cork-Kerry Munster showpiece is almost a foregone conclusion.

Cork have to play Waterford or a weakened Tipp in the provincial semi-final and you’d expect the Rebels to progress with ease.

For Kerry, it’s Clare or Limerick and if it’s Clare, as expected, the Kingdom will be on their guard against a side riding high on confidence following their League exploits.

Kerry are going for four-in-a-row in Munster and in the last three finals, they’ve seen off Cork.

The Leesiders took Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s men to a replay last year before their season imploded.

3. Dublin v Kildare – Leinster SFC final

James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

When Dublin met Kildare at the semi-final stage last year, the Sky Blues won by 19 points.

But a final appearance for Kildare would surely see them more competitive, and provide boss Cian O’Neill with the best possible indication about how strong his team is and what he has to work with.

It could be nasty for Kildare again, of course, as Dublin look like an unstoppable force this year.

Kildare will have to work hard to get to the final against Dublin, too, as Wexford provide their opening round opposition.

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Provided they get through that, Kildare will face Longford, Offaly or Westmeath at the semi-final stage.

As for the other side of the draw, that’s a fait accompli, isn’t it?

4. Donegal v Monaghan – Ulster SFC semi-final

Andrew Paton / INPHO Andrew Paton / INPHO / INPHO

They’ve contested the last three Ulster finals but Donegal and Monaghan are on a semi-final collision course this year.

Antrim or Fermanagh will meet Donegal in the quarter-final, with Monaghan up against Down at the same stage of the provincial competition.

There’s no love lost between Monaghan and Donegal, as evidenced by their previous clashes, and the emergence of both counties as serious forces in recent years has heightened the sense of rivalry, which wouldn’t be described by many in Ulster as traditional.

The reward for the winners is a slot in the provincial decider, while the losers would have to negotiate a tricky path through the qualifiers.

Both counties will harbour genuine hopes of not only winning the provincial title, but going hard on All-Ireland glory too. This is another one we’d like to see.

5. Dublin v Meath – Leinster SFC semi-final

James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

25 years after their famous four-game saga back in 1991, Meath and Dublin look set to collide in the Leinster semi-final.

Dublin are moving out of Croke Park for a championship game for the first time since 2006, when they tackle Laois or Wicklow at Nowlan Park in the quarter-final.

Meath, meanwhile, will meet the winners of the Carlow-Louth tie for a route to the last four.

Dublin and Meath didn’t meet in the championship last year, as Westmeath provided one of the shock results of the summer to scuttle Meath at the semi-final stage.

But in 2012, 2013 and 2014, Dublin won all three Leinster finals against Meath.

The margin of victory increased on each occasion, Dublin winning by three points in 2012, by seven a year later before a whopping 16 points separated the sides in 2014.

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