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Making The Case For Two Huge Provinical Final Upsets Later Today

Making The Case For Two Huge Provinical Final Upsets Later Today
David Kent
By David Kent
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If you go back to the start of the GAA season, you would've won a ton of money if you had predicted the following things.

  1. Down would reach the Ulster final
  2. Galway would knock out Mayo in Connacht only for Roscommon to take the Nestor Cup
  3. The Carlow footballers' season would last longer than Kilkenny's hurlers
  4. The Cork hurlers would comfortably win the Munster championship

It's been a season for the underdog in 2017. There've been shocks a plenty. There hasn't even been a substantial rant from the Sunday Game pundits about a match.: it's pretty much been just about each other.

So, as unrealistic as it may seem, the Leinster and Ulster finals are not foregone conclusions.

We've had some major shocks over the years - but never all together. Tipperary's magical run to the All-Ireland semi final was seen as a flash in the pan. The same as London's Connacht final appearance in 2013.

The Lilywhites

Yes, the Dubs are streets clear of most of Leinster. A record-breaking semi-final victory over Westmeath brought up more and more discussion about championship restructure.

Aside from the 24 hours following the game, no one was really talking about Kildare's relatively comfortable victory over Meath.

The last time Dublin were seriously tested in Leinster? That was in 2011, when they needed a controversial last-minute free to knock oout the Lilywhites in the semi final.


In the Leinster final which followed, they beat Wexford after a minor scare. Since then, Kildare and Dublin have gone on different paths. Their meeting in the 2015 semi final was ugly, with Dublin running out 19 points winners.

But now, the supposed 'Lost Generation' have returned. And it's not just the All Ireland champions that are putting up big scores on their opponents. Kildare have played two Championship matches so far this season. They've scored 3-37. An average of 23 points per game.


In the National League, they got promoted from Division Two after averaging 19 points per game. If they can put 19 scores up on Dublin, they'll be in with a serious chance.

Ger McNally is a presenter with KFM and the Sports editor of the Kildare Nationalist and he isn't surprised by what he's seen so far this year:

Cian O'Neill has moulded a team with a core group of players aged 24-25. They've grown up together through the underage teams, they've found their feet in the Championship and now are now getting ready to approach their peak years. Cian has found a system and style of play that really suits this bunch of players.

A lot of lessons were learned during his first 12 months in charge and he's putting them to good use now.


Indeed, O'Neill's brought in a new focus to this Kildare side. He's adapted the slightly unorthodox tactic of a reliance on visualisation, with the use of occlusion goggles key to a Kildare training session. McNally is noticing the change:

There are certainly signs of some excellent coaching and hard work on the training ground in the team.

In previous years Kildare have given up a lot of handy scores through needless frees but they've really cut that back this year. The basics such as kicking, catching, passing have all improved too.

The return of Daniel Flynn and Paddy Brophy from the AFL was a huge boost to Kildare, not just on match day.

They are all now back in the squad and not only are they talented players but they've brought what they've learned from professional set ups back to the Kildare camp.

Dublin are on the charge towards a seventh consecutive Leinster Championship title. No side has ever managed that before. Kildare have a mammoth task ahead of them - but not one that is impossible:

Kildare have to keep mistakes to a minimum, not give the ball away in silly areas and be clinical with their shooting when the chances arise, especially not dropping shots short.

It would be one of the all time great shocks if Kildare could do it but they couldn't be better shape heading into the game in terms of form, fitness and confidence

The Mourne 

Before all of that, Down take on Tyrone in the Ulster final. Given their form coming into the year, not even people from the county would've predicted that one.

A reminder, that the 2010 All Ireland finalists were coming into their season off a run of 12 consecutive defeats. Two more would follow in Division Two - before they finally beat Meath to end the win drought at 14 matches.

Still, they weren't favourites when they were drawn against Armagh in the Ulster championship. An ugly victory got them through to a semi final against a heavily fancied Monaghan side.

If the Armagh game was an ugly win, then the victory over Monaghan was beautiful. They shellshocked the Farney Army to earn only their second Ulster final appearance in 14 years. The last time they won Ulster, Ireland still used the punt in 1994.

Kevin McKernan has been Down's talisman in midfield, picking ball after ball out from the sky. Darragh O'Hanlon kicked 1-5 against Monaghan despite being named at right half back. Their pace when on the counter is extremely dangerous. The Monaghan game did away with any 'Ulster football' clichés and stereotypes.

They've been tested twice. The same can't be said of Tyrone.The Red Hand breezed past Derry and Donegal to reach the final on their home turf. That may be enough to just tip the scales towards Mickey Harte's side - but don't be surprised if the Mourne Men have a good crack off them first.

The Red Hand breezed past Derry and Donegal to reach the final on their home turf. That may be enough to just tip the scales towards Mickey Harte's side - but don't be surprised if the Mourne Men have a good crack off them first.

Realistically, even if the Dubs & Tyrone were to lose tomorrow, then they'd still easily reach a quarter final - given how the Championship is laid out.

It might seem like two easy matches to call - but we've said that a few times this year.

SEE ALSO: Carlow 'Keeper Captures Magic Of The GAA Hours Before Their Game With Monaghan



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