Sports

Countdown is on for Armagh

Thursday, 27 July 2017

AT the weekend, Donegal suffered a devastating defeat at the hands of a rampant Galway side, who recently put 'back-to-back Connacht titles together. The other qualifier game saw Mayo struggle to edge past Cork by a single point.
With Cork and Donegal exiting the All-Ireland series, there are now only 10 teams left competing for the 2017 All-Ireland title.
The countdown to the final is now intensifying with Ulster teams Armagh, Monaghan, and Down each attempting to reach the quarter finals this weekend.
At present the 10 teams still in the All-Ireland series are Dublin (holders), Kerry, Tyrone, Roscommon, Galway, Mayo, Armagh, Kildare, Monaghan, and Down.
Armagh and Kildare meet this weekend as the main feature game of the Round 4B double header qualifier at Croke Park. Preceding them is a possible attritional clash between Monaghan and Down.
Kildare and Monaghan in many quarters are being cited as favourites but I would not rule out two 'upsets' being the eventual outcome.
The level of game intensity will certainly be a lot higher than all four have experienced to date and the huge Croke Park pitch will demand much of all four teams both physical and mental abilities.
Kildare, however, hold the advantage over Armagh in that they've played twice already at Croke Park during the Leinster Championship.
The winners of Saturday's games will be drawn against either Dublin or Tyrone to complete the 2017 All-Ireland quarter final pairings.
At the weekend the first two All-Ireland quarter final pairings were drawn with the two ties being:
Kerry v Galway
Roscommon v Mayo.
The draw for the other two ties will take place this weekend on Monday morning and let's hope Armagh will be involved.
I'll finish with a little bit of frivolous speculation. There are four Ulster teams, three Connacht teams, two Leinster teams and one Munster left in the current last 10.
No matter what this weekend quarter-final draw throws up could mean that only one team from each province will contest the All-Ireland semi-finals, possibly as follows:
- Kerry v Mayo
- Dublin v Tyrone
Funny, they are the bookmakers' odds from January which predicted they would be favourites for the four All-Ireland semi-finalist places.

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