“They believe that they’re good enough to be challenging to be in the quarter-finals so if we can get our act together.” (Mickey Harte after defeat in the Ulster Championship)
Mickey Harte v Malachy O’Rourke
This was meant to be playing match ups but there is no doubt of the importance of this match. Harte has the experience and knowledge. Hes been there and done that, never mind the wardrobe full of T-shirts. Fermanagh native O’Rourke managed his home county to an Ulster final defeat (after a replay) by Armagh in 2008. He already got one over his Tyrone counterpart in the Ulster Championship in earlier in the season. This is Monaghans first All Ireland semi final in 30 odd years so O’Rourke will have to calm a few nerves and dampen expectations prior the game. Wily tactician Harte is experiencing his 16th campaign as Tyrone’s Sideline leader. Despite three All Ireland Winners medals the hunger hasn’t lightened. Indeed after Monaghan defeated Tyrone in Ulster Harte stated “They believe that they’re good enough to be challenging to be in the quarter-finals so if we can get our act together, and we don’t get too harsh a draw in the first instance, maybe we could rebuild a bit of momentum for ourselves again.”
Conor McManus v Ronan McNamee
This match up was a bit of a classic in the Ulster Quarter. McManus was quiet until the last five minutes or so when he took control. McManus has scored 1-18 in Monaghans Super Eight games in July against Laois, Kerry and Galway. He also scored some late valuable points in the game against Tyrone. He likes to run at defenders and moves them out of position to good effect. McNamee has grown as the season has progressed. He has been crucial in Tyrones run in the qualifiers. Injured against Dublin in Omagh in the 1st half many thought his season was over. If he can keep McManus quiet it will go along way to Tyrone reaching another All Ireland Final.
Niall Morgan v Rory Beggan
I do realise goalkeepers dont directly match up but these two usually appear high enough up on their respective teams scoring charts. Both capable of hitting long range frees with homing-missile like accuracy they are likely to contribute to the scoreboards. Their distribution has been very good this year, take out the odd blemish (Morgans Donegal Faux pas). They both are also very good keepers, stopping scoring forwards regularly. Many pundits think these two could hold their respective Counties All Ireland hopes within their normally tight grasp.
Galway have had a great year. I didn’t see them getting to this stage at the start of the Championship. It is worrying the way they lost to Monaghan last week. Describing it as just a loss is also being nice to them. It was pretty abysmal whatever way you look at it. Despite that they qualified for this stage with a bit of style. The major issue for them is can they play with intensity for whole match and not just in fits and parts. Dublin have the best squad and possibly the most settled team of the last four.
Brian Fenton v Ciaran Duggan
Midfield is always crucial. These two are supremely fit and both are powerful runners on and off the ball. How they work with likely partners in James McCarthy and Tom Flynn could prove the basis to the outcome. The problem Duggan has is that Dublin could replace Fenton with three or four players of near equal quality. He will have to perform at 100% for the entire match.
Eoin Murchan v Damien Comer
Eoin Murchan did tremendous man marking jobs on Niall Sludden and Ryan McHugh. He may be expected to mark then more creative Burke but I think his physicality will be used against Comer. Expect Galway to Look for Comer early with the high ball. Especially with Cluxton looking slightly erratic under it against Roscommon. Comer can bully players but I expect Murchan to be used to dealing with players like him and with Dublins mobility proving crucial in this match up and the match in general.