For the first time in far too long it does not feel like the football championship revolves solely around Dublin. With the decline of the once great Dublin empire, it opens the door for a number of possibilities with Kerry only slight favourites in many people’s opinion.
Kerry’s dismantling of Mayo in the league final shows that they are favourites for good reason with David Clifford doing things on the pitch that have only been dreamed of. They are probably the most complete team in the country with few injuries to be concerned about, it will be hard to look past them unless some other team comes on leaps and bounds.
Mayo are probably the easiest team to predict their fortune in this championship. The perennial losers have shown no signs of change over the league campaign with a constantly changing team allowing for little cohesion and stars like Tommy Conroy absent for the season it seems, to me, this will not be their year yet again. Although they have come closest when no one gave them a hope, it’s just a question of how much heartache one team can take.
Tyrone are the reigning all-Ireland champions, but they have not played like champions so far this season with losses coming in the league against the likes of Armagh, Donegal, and Dublin. They did however manage to give Kerry their only loss of the league and the post-victory hangover will be well and truly gone by the start of the championship. If they can overcome a very competitive Ulster championship they will be hot on the tails of the likes of Kerry.
Other than these teams it is a very mixed bag with Armagh being the surprise package in Division 1 and Dublin also being a surprise package in a very different way this season. The likes of Donegal and Monaghan can give any team a game on their day and would fancy their chances in the Ulster championship this year. The tier below this containing the likes of Kildare, Galway and Roscommon will hope to emerge from the season with a provincial trophy but cannot hope for much more.
From a Galway perspective, it is hard to hope for much when the team has been a let-down in nearly every big game for the last decade and reliance on the likes of the experienced Conroy and always injured Comer can only get us so far. A victory against Mayo in the Connacht championship will be the most any Galway fan can hope for at this point.
My prediction for the All-Ireland final in July will be Tyrone against Kerry, with Kerry being the eventual winners. It seems like this is David Clifford’s year and there is very little any team can do to stop him.