HomeFootballGAA Championship finally gets going with All-Ireland QFs: Here are my picks

GAA Championship finally gets going with All-Ireland QFs: Here are my picks

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AT LAST, Championship 2024 finally gets under way.

Dublin and Kerry have been able to time their runs for this weekend without really breaking too much sweat.

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Brian Fenton has posed more of a scoring threat than usual this year
Meath legend Graham Geraghty writes for SunSport

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Meath legend Graham Geraghty writes for SunSport

Roscommon, Galway, Louth and Derry have been on the road for three consecutive weekends and the odds are stacked against them, because the All-Ireland champions, the Kingdom, Armagh and Donegal have had a couple of weeks off.

You’d imagine they’d be coming in fresher, but it doesn’t always work out that way and momentum can carry teams through.

Dublin probably aren’t as formidable as in previous years, but are still a force to be reckoned with.

Dessie Farrell has players all over the pitch who can win a game on their own.

Galway haven’t been able to field their best XV and the Tribe haven’t the same strength overall.

Pádraic Joyce’s men scraped through against Monaghan last week but found it very hard to break the Farney down. They struggled during that game.

But Dublin are a different animal altogether and could really rip them apart.

The Connacht champions are back at Croke Park for the first time in Championship fare since the 2022 All-Ireland final, so they will be up for it

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It’s the biggest game of their season and it could be their last because whether they have the strength, depth and firepower up front to beat the Dubs remains to be seen.

If Joyce had 2022 All-Star forwards Shane Walsh and Damien Comer at the top of their game on the same day, they’d be very hard to beat — but both have been struggling with injuries all year.

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Walsh picked up an ankle injury against Monaghan but is fit enough to start.

He’s been in and out of games, but when he’s on form, he’s on form.

Comer is a massive influence too and came off the bench last weekend after missing two games with an ankle injury.

But in another major boost for his county, he starts alongside Walsh in attack.

Comer is a great target man up front and so much of their attacking play goes through him.

Barring no late changes, Walsh and Comer will be matched up against Séan McMahon and Mick Fitzsimons respectively this evening.

Then you look at the quality players Dublin brought off the bench against Mayo — Jack McCaffrey, James McCarthy and Paul Mannion — all of whom, as it stands, start among the subs tonight.

This is their bread and butter from all of the massive games that they’ve been involved in over the years.

They have the temperament that they’re able to put that injection of pace into the game or slow things down if needed.

Midfielder Brian Fenton is a rock and when he plays well, Dublin seem to find their groove.

He’s been drifting into full-forward, picking up balls in there and getting marks to tap over the bar.

So, he’s not just a midfielder — he can get about the place and really dictate things.

Galway must come out and attack Dublin because sitting back and inviting them on is a recipe for disaster.

Obviously Joyce will have his plan, but you’d imagine Dublin would be strong enough to end their Championship interest.

Roscommon start the day against Armagh and will be brimming with confidence.

I thought Tyrone would beat them last weekend but they have such good players in Enda Smith, Diarmuid Murtagh, Conor Cox and Brian Stack.

They’re coming through the hard way, playing Ulster teams on back-to-back weekends but Davy Burke will have them fired up to take another scalp.

Having said that, I really like this Armagh team. They set up very defensively but break at serious pace.

Conor Turbitt and Stefan Campell can punish teams up front.

This could go to the wire and be the game of the weekend, but I’d give Kieran McGeeney’s men a slight edge.

Derry take on Kerry tomorrow but they shouldn’t be at this stage at all. Full stop.

They’ve been beaten three times in the Championship and they still end up in a quarter-final. That is not right.

Whatever about the back-door system when a team has lost once, but losing three three times and possibly ending up in a semi-final is wrong on so many levels.

Mickey Harte will have no complaints after his team finally turned up last weekend against Mayo, who should have finished them off.

Kerry are a different kettle of fish, though.

Like Dublin, they’re probably the only other team that can afford to hold back until the final straight.

Just look at their firepower.

In recent years they were depending on David and Paudie Clifford and Seánie O’Shea for scores, but they are addressing that, with ten different scorers against Louth last time out.

The middle will be a massive battle. Conor Glass and Brendan Rogers really hit form against Mayo, while Diarmuid and Joe O’Connor have clicked for the Kingdom.

Shane McGuigan and Lachlan Murray finally came to life for the Oak Leaf last weekend as well and having Gareth McKinless back after a two-game ban is massive.

There’s firepower and danger there and they’re going to have to be watched — but Kerry seem to have it all over the field.

Paul Murphy and Brian Ó Beaglaoich have been driving forward from wing-back and Tom O’Sullivan always seems to pop up with a score or two as well.

Obviously, Derry are going to get into their defensive formation.

It’s up to Kerry to break them down and we’ll see Jack O’Connor mirror that as well.

But Kerry should still have the upper hand and march into the last four for the fourth year in a row.

We’re down to that stage of the year, where every game is competitive.

All the games this weekend should go down to the wire.

There is nowhere to hide in knockout football and that’s what we want — and need — after a disappointing Championship to date.

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