Posted by Shane Stapleton

If you’re not sure what way to hedge your bets in our Win, Lose or Draw game then perhaps let our experts give you a hand

02 2013 Ambassador Predictions week 6

If you’re not sure what way to hedge your bets in our Win, Lose or Draw game then perhaps let our experts give you a hand.

This weekend sees two provincial semi-finals that are remarkable in how they are pretty much polar opposites. In the first clash, Donegal take on Down in a game that many see as the de facto Ulster final; while whichever Leitrim and London progress are imagined to be nothing more than cannon fodder for Mayo in the Connacht decider.

 

DONEGAL v DOWN

Mickey Harte’s Tyrone were the first team aiming to end Donegal’s push for a third Ulster title in a row but they found the going too tough down the straight. The Red Hands boss can’t see past Jim McGuinness’ men.

“Like the rest of the country, you’d be fancying Donegal, because they’re the All-Ireland champions. They’ve the first round behind them, they seem to have carried on from where they left off last year and despite the fact there might be question marks around the fitness of Karl Lacey and Neil Gallagher, I still think they’ll have enough power within them to take Down. Down on the other hand will have gained a lot from their victory over Derry. It was a very open game and they managed to score 2-17 but they’ll be lucky to get half of that on Sunday. Would that be enough to beat Donegal? I don’t think so.”

Johnny Doyle and Colm ‘Gooch’ Cooper don’t argue. “Donegal were very impressive against Tyrone and I can’t see them being beat here,” says Doyle. “That said, Down are in a great position, they have nothing to lose and James McCartan well have them well drilled.” And Gooch added: “I feel the confidence from beating Tyrone in such a big first round game will stand to them.”

The last time that Tir Chonaill lost an Ulster championship tie was on 30 May 2010 and that was against the Mourne County, who of course travelled all the way to the third Sunday in September that season. But Donegal have won their nine most recent provincial games since then.

“You’d have to fancy Donegal after beating Tyrone. Down are coming into it in good form as well after their comeback against Derry but you’d have to go with Donegal,” says Donie Shine.

Donegal captain Michael Murphy has no intention to relinquishing the Anglo-Celt Cup: “Derry v Down was a fantastic game – really open and both sides brought their ‘A’ game to the table. There were a number of fantastic scores and it’s gone down thus far as one of the games of the championship.

We obviously knew we were going to be playing the winners and Down came through – a Division 1 side like ourselves but also relegated like ourselves. They’ll be coming into it full of confidence. They still have a number of players off the back of the 2010 All-Ireland final and they’ve added a couple of players to that side also. It’s a big, big game for us but it’s one we’re looking forward to.”

Last Five Championship Clashes
2012:
Donegal 2-18 Down 0-13 (Ulster final)
2010:
Down 1-15 Donegal 2-10 (Ulster quarter-final) after extra-time
2006:
Donegal 1-12 Down 1-11 (Ulster quarter-final)
2003:
Donegal 3-15 Down 2-10 (All-Ireland qualifiers Round 4)
2002:
Donegal 3-12 Down 1-6 (Ulster quarter-final)
Donegal 4; Down 1.

Mickey Harte

Donegal

Colm Cooper

Donegal

Ciarán Whelan

Donegal

Johnny Doyle

Donegal

Donie Shine

Donegal

Michael Murphy

Donegal

 

LEITRIM v LONDON

It’s beenone-way traffic between these sides in recent history but the Exiles' only previous success in Connacht before their win over Sligo this year was against Leitrim in 1977, two years after they joined the province.

Since the heavy beating of New York at Gaelic Park in the Bronx, Leitrim have dropped four of their panel for disciplinary reasons but still the majority of our GAA ambassadors are still expecting them to progress to the final by beating another set of ex-Pats, including 2010 Connacht champion Donie Shine.

“Leitrim are going very well,” Shine says. “They’d a good league campaign and a good FBD so they’re coming into it in a strong position. There’s been rumours of a bit of trouble in their camp so with London overcoming Sligo it’s going to be a tight in Pairc Sean. I wouldn’t be surprised is London did it but you’d have to fancy Leitrim to come through.”

Michael Murphy tends to agree: “With Leitrim having the home venue and a Connacht final at stake, you’d look at them to come through. The loss of a number of players through disciplinary issues could galvanise them and bring them together also. With the confidence on the back of the Sligo win, London will feel like they’ve nothing to lose and they’ll definitely get stronger over the next couple of years. It wouldn’t surprise me if it’s this year but I just think home advantage could tip it in Leitrim’s favour.”

Mickey Harte is the sole dissenting voice among our GAA stars, predicting that London will go some way to remedying what is a pretty unremarkable record since enterting the province in 1975: Played 39; Won 2, Lost 37.

“You’d have said home advantage for Leitrim would put them in pole position but the fact they’ve lost four players makes it a very level playing field – take four players from any squad that would be playing and it weakens your team,” says Harte.

“Both teams have played their league football in the same division so it wouldn’t be beyond the realms of possibility for London to make history and reach the Connacht final. By a slight head I’m going to go for London.”

Last Five Championship Clashes
2012:
Leitrim 0-12 London 1-8 (Connacht 1st round)
2007:
Leitrim 1-12 London 2-5 (Connacht 1st round)
2002:
Leitrim 0-15 London 0-10 (Connacht 1st round)
1997:
Leitrim 2-18 London 1-13 (Connacht 1st round) after extra-time
1992:
Leitrim 3-17 London 2-10 (Connacht 1st round)
Leitrim 5; London 0

Mickey Harte

London

Colm Cooper

Leitrim

Ciarán Whelan

Leitrim

Johnny Doyle

Leitrim

Donie Shine

Leitrim

Michael Murphy

Leitrim

Think you know better than our ambassadors? Why not play our Win, Lose or Draw prediction game to be in with a chance to win 2 VIP tickets to the All-Ireland final.