The All-Ireland SFC quarter-final draw turned up some intriguing contests, but the hardest to pick is possibly Armagh and Galway.
Bookmakers are also struggling to separate the sides with most firms initially calling the money before pushing Armagh into favoritism.
The most fascinating “key battle” could be on the sidelines on Sunday when Kieran McGeeney and Pádraic Joyce try to one-up each other.
Read more:The cost of going to Croke Park: how much will GAA fans pay this weekend?
Both men are legends within their own countries, and rightly so, for their exploits on the pitch and are also former Irish International Rules team-mates.
Without question, ‘Geezer’ has the biggest calls to make ahead of Sunday’s game with an ever-growing injury list.
Connaire Mackin was scheduled to be included against Donegal but was withdrawn at the last minute after feeling unwell during the throw-in.
Shane O’Neill’s ace, who can play defense or midfield, is expected to be fit to play but his brother Ciaran remains sidelined after suffering a broken eye socket earlier in the season .
Forkhill defender Paddy Burns will also miss with a hamstring injury, while Niall Grimley and Tiernan Kelly will miss the rest of the season.
Andrew Murnin certainly didn’t look out of place in Armagh’s attack on Donegal and is likely to hold on to a starting spot.
For Galway, aside from defender Seán Mulkerrin, who suffered a serious knee injury while playing for NUIG in the Sigerson Cup, they are in relatively clean health and probably won’t make too many changes from the side that beat Roscommon by three points. in the Connacht final last month.
These key battles could swing the outcome in favor of Armagh or Galway on Sunday. . .
1. Ethan Rafferty
2. James Morgan 3. Aidan Forker 4. Aaron McKay
5. Connaire Mackin 6. Greg McCabe 7. Jarly Óg Burns
8. Stephen Sheridan 9 Ben Crealey
10. Rory Grugan 11. Stefan Campbell 12. Andrew Murnin
13. Aidan Nugent 14. Rian O’Neill 15. Jason Duffy
1. Connor Gleeson
2. Liam Silke 3. Sean Kelly 4. Jack Glynn
5. Dylan McHugh 6. John Daly 7. Kieran Molloy
8. Paul Conroy 9. Cillian McDaid
10. Patrick Kelly 11. Matthew Tierney 12. Johnny Heaney
13. Robert Finnerty 14. Damien Comer 15. Shane Walsh
Sean Kelly (Galway) v Rian O’Neill (Armagh)
Against Donegal, Rian O’Neill returned to his devastating best when he went 1-7 in a Man of the Match display.
In the previous Inter-County Championship meeting at Ballybofey, Brendan McCole held O’Neill scoreless.
However, against Tyrone and in the rematch with Donegal, he played much deeper and was able to link up with other players and helped set up Armagh’s other two goals at Clones.
Galway will likely seek out his skipper Seán Kelly to pick up O’Neill. The Moycullen club member played a key role for NUIG earlier this year as he won the Sigerson Cup and is regarded as one of Galway’s tightest scorers.
Ben Crealey (Armagh) v Paul Conroy (Galway)
With Damien Comer back in top form, Galway have been able to restore Paul Conroy in midfield and they look much better of late.
Conroy, who has struggled to recover from a two-leg break, will know that Galway will have no better chance of reaching an All-Ireland final.
Joyce’s men will need to be at the top of a revamped Armagh midfield from the start, but Ben Crealey has been one of their best players in recent games.
Maghery’s ace was outstanding against Tyrone and it was his double challenge on Michael Murphy and Jason McGee that was instrumental in Armagh winning the throw-in, leading to Rory Grugan’s goal after 10 seconds.
Aidan Forker (Armagh) vs. Shane Walsh (Galway)
He has found himself picking up Donegal’s Michael Murphy twice and Tyrone’s Darren McCurry in the Championship campaign so far. It would be a huge surprise on Sunday if Aidan Forker is not appointed to track down Galway’s Shane Walsh at Croke Park.
Walsh scored 1–6 in Connacht SFC’s final victory over Roscommon, going 1–3 into the game. Against Mayo he went 0-5, including some crucial free kicks, and Forker will need to be incredibly disciplined on Sunday, as the former Galway captain is usually very accurate from free kicks.
With Forker choosing Walsh, James Morgan and Aaron McKay will take over to guard Robert Finnerty and Damien Comer, respectively.
Kieran Molloy (Galway) vs Rory Grugan (Armagh)
As Armagh’s Ulster Championship challenge winded down at Ballybofey, Rory Grugan was one of the few Orchard players to put on a decent display against Donegal, scoring 0-5 from his team’s 0-12 tally.
In the Clones rematch, he found the back of Shaun Patton’s net after just 10 seconds and finished 1-3.
With all the talk of Rian O’Neill, Aidan Nugent and Stefan ‘Soupy’ Campbell, Grugan’s sublime finish sometimes goes unnoticed.
There is little chance that Pádraic Joyce will leave anything to chance on Sunday and he could meet Kieran Molloy.
The Galway wing-back has appeared with a game point against Mayo and Roscommon and Joyce might find it better to have Grugan tracking their runs than the other way around.
Ethan Rafferty (Armagh) vs. Conor Gleeson (Galway)
Ethan Rafferty’s two points in the game against Tyrone helped him win the GAA Player of the Week award.
Against Donegal, the Grange club member showed that it was no one-off performance as he again roamed the pitch freely and connected well with his colleagues and was a sure pair of hands under the high ball as Donegal bowled straight in late. .
Rafferty’s kickoffs will come under even greater scrutiny at Croke Park, as Blaine Hughes was Armagh’s goalkeeper when they beat Dublin in the League in January.
Connor Gleeson’s kick-offs were excellent against Roscommon in the Connacht final and he had a hand in Shane Walsh’s first goal at Pearse Stadium when his restart found Paul Conroy coming in long on Walsh after 18 minutes.
Both goalkeepers can vary their kick-offs well, but they both have contrasting styles and it will be interesting to see who emerges victorious on Sunday.
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