Posted by Shane Stapleton

Why not read how our GAA ambassadors think this weekend's games will go before playing our 'Win, Lose or Draw' game

July 4th 2013 Ambassador Predictions week 8Say what you like about London having little chance against Mayo, Donegal simply having to show up to beat Monaghan, and Dublin’s expected procession in the Leinster final with Meath, the Munster final is certainly one you will struggle to call with any confidence.

CORK v KERRY
Cork and Kerry, these are two sides that have been at each other’s throats for as long as football has mattered. This is by far the busiest rivalry in Gaelic football, having met on no fewer than 22 occasions in the championship since 2001: Kerry 12; Cork 5; Draws 5.

Colm ‘Gooch’ Cooper, who has been on the pitch for the vast majority of them having made his debut in 2002, says Kerry having been eyeing this game all year after both teams coasted into the Munster final.

“We’ll get a good test off each other and that will suit both teams. A Kerry side can always test themselves against Cork to see where they’re at. Come Sunday evening, we’ll know exactly what we need to do to improve as a team with aspirations of winning the All-Ireland.

"Cork will want to make sure they’re in the hat for the quarter-finals while we’re very keen on wrestling back the Munster championship. If we can do that, getting one over on Cork is always a nice bonus.”

Michael Murphy led Donegal to championship wins over both Cork and Kerry last year, and his side have also met the pair in 2013.

“We played Cork in the league this year and I’m basing the decision on that," Murphy says. "I was really impressed with them that day. They’re very well set up defensively and they’ve quite a bit going on up front.

"Obviously Colm O’Neill is a huge loss but I expect Daniel Goulding and others will step up to the mark and they’ll be really gunning for Cork. Kerry will go into the game as favourites but Cork might have enough to edge it.

"We’ll be seeing both teams later on in the championship so this weekend mightn’t have a huge significance altogether.”

Ciaran Whelan is looking forward to going down to Killarney for what will actually be his first time at a Munster final.

“People have complained in the past about Cork and Kerry only having one real game before they get to Croke Park but with all the other provincial finals looking unbalanced this should be a quality test.

"Cork are a bit under the radar this year as they didn’t really take the league that seriously and they tampered with their team a bit in the last few rounds. Kerry are looking to freshen it up this year under new manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice.

"The personnel is largely the same but a lot of the key players are in better form like Tomas O Se, Kieran Donaghy (on the bench) and the Gooch has moved to the half forward line. It’s the last push for a lot of this players but they’re very difficult to beat in Killarney.

"I would be worried about the Kerry defence but a direct game with quality ball in should be the key difference in the game.”

 

Mickey Harte

Kerry

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Colm Cooper

Kerry

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Ciarán Whelan

Kerry

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Johnny Doyle

Kerry

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Donie Shine

Kerry

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Michael Murphy

Cork

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DERRY v DOWN
Our GAA Ambassador, Michael Murphy was part of the Donegal team that knocked Down out of the Ulster championship — a Mourne County team that now faces Derry in the qualifiers after eliminating them from the same province.

“Obviously Derry have a wee bit of momentum coming off the back of the Sligo game but having played Down ourselves, I’d have to go with them again,” Murphy explains. “I can see them really bouncing back after the Ulster Championship and taking a lot of positives from our game with them.”

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte agrees: “This is the draw that neither side wanted. They’ve already met in the Ulster Championship. That day Derry were very much in control for the first half and even the start of the second half. Down took over at that stage and there were lessons learned from such a high scoring game.

"They were much more defensive against Donegal and I believe they’ll bring more of that into this game. It will be much lower scoring but Down will have enough to get through by a whisker.”

In the qualifiers this year, two provincial clashes — Down v Derry and Cavan v Fermanagh — have again come out of the hat but Harte says there’s no other way to have the system.

“We’ve been down this road before where you couldn’t meet a team if you’d met them before,” Harte says. “I think the latest rule is you can’t draw someone you’ve just played in the most recent match.

"After that you can meet anybody but it is completely luck of the draw. No one could have predicted you’ve had a replay of two matches which have already happened.

“If you start to bring in these variables, then you almost don’t have a draw at all because you’d have so many teams who can’t play each other. You almost wouldn’t need a draw by default. I think I’d just leave it to chance.” 

Mickey Harte

Down

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Colm Cooper

Down

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Ciarán Whelan

Derry

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Johnny Doyle

Down

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Donie Shine

Down

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Michael Murphy

Down

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CLARE v LAOIS
The Banner meet the O’Moore County in Ennis as part of a football-hurling double header. Both sides were hammered in their provincial championships and Colm ‘Gooch’ Cooper calls this one for us.

“Leinster hasn’t really worked out for Laois in the last few years but they tend to plug away nicely in the qualifier,” said Gooch. “They’re capable of taking a scalp on any given day and the fact that they had that win over Carlow will help their confidence.

"Micko will know a lot of their squad and will leave no stone unturned in preparing Clare but Laois are just that little bit more advanced.”

Mickey Harte

Laois

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Colm Cooper

Laois

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Ciarán Whelan

Laois

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Johnny Doyle

Laois

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Donie Shine

Laois

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Michael Murphy

Laois

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GALWAY v WATERFORD
It looks to be one of the more easily called qualifiers this weekend and Roscommon’s Donie Shine is in little doubt, as are all of our ambassadors.

“Galway had a good win against Tipperary and they’ll back themselves against Waterford,” Shine said. “It’s a good draw for them and I fancy them to come through.

"They’re without a qualifier win since 2004 and they look good to make it two in a row this year.”

Mickey Harte

Galway

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Colm Cooper

Galway

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Ciarán Whelan

Galway

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Johnny Doyle

Galway

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Donie Shine

Galway

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Michael Murphy

Galway

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ROSCOMMON v TYRONE
Shine’s Rossies are also big outsiders against a Red Hands side that absolutely annihilated Offaly in their own back yard.

“Our third year in a row and probably the toughest draw that was in the bowl,” Shine admits. “It’s at home in The Hyde and we’ll give it a rattle. They’re one of the top teams we’ve played in the last few years and we’ll certainly look to be more competitive.

"Last year Tyrone beat us by a bigger margin than we would have liked and we’ll be trying to narrow that this year. I’m sure Mickey will be predicting Tyrone for this one in ‘Win, Lose or Draw’ so there’s a couple more points for me if we do the job on Saturday!”

Over to Mickey. “We played them in Croke Park two years ago and it was a very high scoring game,” said Harte. “For long parts of the game, Roscommon were very much in it. We got a couple of goals at a crucial stage to give us a cushion but it was a very fast open free scoring game.

"Last year in Hyde Park, it was a close enough encounter in the first half and the start of the second half but then we just pulled away a number of points at vital times. We won at the end with some degree of comfort but it wasn’t a true reflection of the whole 70 minutes.

"Roscommon have a decent record at Hyde Park against most teams but I know Tyrone will be expected to win here. They’ll want to improve on their performance against Mayo – I know they’re better than that.”

Mickey Harte

Tyrone

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Colm Cooper

Tyrone

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Ciarán Whelan

Tyrone

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Johnny Doyle

Tyrone

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Donie Shine

Roscommon

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Michael Murphy

Tyrone

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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.