HomeFootballThis weekend’s GAA fixtures including Donegal v Galway and Armagh v Kerry

This weekend’s GAA fixtures including Donegal v Galway and Armagh v Kerry


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THREE high-profile games involving teams from Ulster take place in Croke Park over the span of this weekend, as the All-Ireland finalists are decided and The Tailteann Cup will find a new home.

Two Ulster sides make the All-Ireland semi-final stage for the second year in a row in the shape of Armagh and Donegal, with Kerry and Galway making up the last four.

The two teams have made a habit of meeting each other this season, meeting in the league, league final and Ulster final so far this year, Donegal coming out on top twice and the two sides drawing in the league.

All four sides will see themselves as having a real chance to bring Sam Maguire back to their county, all having had impressive seasons.

Meanwhile, Down will play former Armagh All-Ireland winner Justin McNulty’s Laois with the Tailteann Cup and a place in next year’s All-Ireland Senior Football Championship on the line.

Down v Laois (Saturday, 3pm)

Down manager Conor Laverty and Laois manager Justin McNulty hold the Tailteann Cup between them at Croke Park
Down manager Conor Laverty, left, and Laois manager Justin McNulty during a Tailteann Cup media day at Croke Park. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile (Harry Murphy / SPORTSFILE/SPORTSFILE)

The Mournemen will hope to banish the ghosts of last summer when they lost to Meath in the Tailteann Cup final and missed out on guaranteed Senior Championship football.

Down will feel that they had been hard done by this year, narrowly missing out on Sam Maguire football through league form and taking Armagh all the way to the death in their Ulster semi-final, but Jason Duffy sending over a point good enough to win the Anglo-Celt Cup itself.

Conor Laverty’s side then set about showing critics that they belong in the Sam Maguire competition, beating Sligo, Wicklow, Offaly London and Limerick on the way.

Laois will be looking to cap off an impressive season for them having won the Division Four league title and making it to the Tailteann Cup final to try and make it double silver for Justin McNulty’s side.

The former Armagh defender caused a stir with his ‘double-jobbing’ as an MLA for the SDLP in Stormont, admitting that it caused ‘heightened scrutiny’ and led to him being suspended from his party with a warning from SDLP leader Colum Eastwood that ‘the two positions aren’t compatible’.

Armagh v Kerry (Saturday, July 13, 5.30pm)

Armagh full-back Aaron McKay cuts out a Roscommon attack in the All-Ireland quarter-final. Picture: Sportsfile
Armagh full-back Aaron McKay cuts out a Roscommon attack in the All-Ireland quarter-final. Picture: Sportsfile (Harry Murphy / SPORTSFILE)

Kieran McGeeney and his Orchardmen will feel that they are due a break after it being a case of so near yet so far on so many occasions, going out in the quarter-finals of the last two All-Ireland championships on penalties with Monaghan taking the tie last year and their fellow semi-finalists this year Galway doing the job over them two years ago at the same stage.

Penalties seem to be a constant thorn in the side of Armagh, losing the last two Ulster SFC finals on penalties to Derry last year and Donegal this year.

Their stellar performances in the All-Ireland round-robin phases, especially their demolition of Ulster rivals Derry, were enough to affirm to people that they were serious contenders for the championship.

Despite their promotion to Division One and cementing their place among the top football sides in the country, Armagh will be itching to get their hands on Sam Maguire for the first time in 22 years but first must win a first semi-final in 19 years.

Kerry, on the other hand, will have other plans in mind as they look to reclaim their crown after Dublin toppled them last year.

The Kingdom have given answered critics about their under-the-radar performances this year by breezing through to the semi-finals.

Their Munster campaign gave them little trouble with Clare falling to the sword and handing them their fourth provincial title in a row and an 85th overall.

In the All-Ireland round-robin series, Kerry comprehensively topped the group, facing Monaghan, Louth and Meath, all of whom were no match for the 2022 All-Ireland champions.

Donegal v Galway (Sunday, July 14, 4pm)

Donegal’s manager Jim McGuinness and captain Patrick McBrearty celebrate after the penalty shoot out win over Armagh in Sunday's Ulster final.
©INPHO/James Crombie
Donegal’s manager Jim McGuinness and captain Patrick McBrearty celebrate after the penalty shoot out win over Armagh in Sunday’s Ulster final.
©INPHO/James Crombie
(©INPHO/James Crombie ©INPHO/James Crombie/©INPHO/James Crombie)

Jim McGuinness’ first season back in charge of his home county has gone better than most people, even inside Donegal, could have imagined.

Following the recent discourse on a county administration level in the county, people could have forgiven McGuinness for needing a season to bed in and get the team to a level he could work with.

Straight out the gate, Donegal impressed in the league, finishing top of division two by a point ahead of Ulster rivals Armagh and winning the league final in Croke Park by a single point.

Next up, the Ulster championship, with Donegal not winning the championship since 2019 and up against stiff competition with the likes of division one league champions Derry and their familiar rivals of Armah vying for the title of Ulster’s finest.

It was the latter that would greet Jim McGuinness and company in the final at Clones and set up an exciting Ulster final between the two teams, with Donegal coming out on top but needing penalties to get over the line.

The All-Ireland series provided Donegal with their first realisation that they were beatable, losing narrowly to Cork in Páirc Uí Rinn after a flurry of goals proved too much for the patient Donegal to overcome.

However, they still came through the other side stronger for it and easier past first-time quarter-finalists Louth to set up as meeting with Galway for a place on the day of days in Gaelic football on July 28.

Galway’s impressive season pails in comparison to Donegal, struggling through the league, amassing only two wins in the process and finishing sixth in the eight-team division.

Páuric Joyce and his tribesmen wouldn’t let their subpar league form harm their confidence going into the Connacht championship, winning their provincial final against Mayo by a point, with the westerners proving the only team to really threaten them in the province.

In the All-Ireland series, Galway faced a tough group, including Ulster sides Armagh and Derry as well as Westmeath.

Derry, who recently parted ways with their manager Mickey Harte, proved to be less of an obstacle than first feared with the side, however, Armagh held them to a draw, meaning it was Monaghan in the prelims for Galway.

After a cushy win, it looked as if they had bitten off more than they could chew this year, heading into the lion’s den to meet Dublin, reigning All-Ireland champions and among the favourites to do it again.

However, on a monumental day in the capital, Galway stole the rug from under the Dubs’s feet and marched on and will look to keep this train running all the way to the end of July.

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