Dubs looked primed for four in a row bid

Dublin’s captain and goalkeeper, Stephen Cluxton. Credit: flickr

The 131st All-Ireland Football Championship will take place in the summer of 2018 and once again, it’s hard to look past the all-conquering Dublin team who have won the last three Championships. They are one of the greatest teams we have ever seen play the beautiful game and, while the new Super eight format for this year may well contain much more competitive matches, the result looks set to be the same.

The league went well for the boys in blue as they regained their Division 1 crown after losing out to Kerry in 2017. The only blip in their campaign this year came when they lost to Monaghan at Croke Park, however, it should be said that they were already qualified for the final at that stage. Of the challengers to the current champions, Kerry may be best placed to dethrone them. They have a young team this year including the highly promising forward, David Clifford, and after last year’s semi-final replay defeat to Mayo, they are sure to be hungry for success this summer.

Kerry look nearly certain to be Munster champions with Tipperary looking like the main dangers after Cork had a disappointing league two campaign this year. Mayo are always contenders and should be again after somehow managing to stay in Division 1 after a last gasp draw against Donegal. The Connacht Championship will be interesting this year with Galway and Mayo meeting in the first round while Roscommon, current Division 2 champions, are always capable of big performances under Kevin McStay.

In Ulster, their championship looks as competitive as ever with Monaghan and Tyrone looking like the strongest player’s, but they meet in the first round so one of them will have to play plenty of football if they’re to be winning the All-Ireland this year. Monaghan will be full of confidence this year after beating Dublin in HQ this year for the first time ever and it appears that they’re not relying so much on star forward Conor McManus. Malachy O’Rourke’s charges were beaten in the quarters last year by the Dubs, but they seemed to have improved from that defeat and it might stand to them for the coming summer. Donegal always have to be respected while Division 2 runners-up Cavan and Division 3 winners Armagh are worthy of a mention. Dublin are simply in a different parish to the rest of the teams in Leinster. Kildare and Meath are two of the more consistent teams in Leinster while Carlow and Longford may be able to cause a shock.

After a successful Division 1 campaign, Kilkenny appear to be the favourites for this summer’s All Ireland Hurling Championship. They started quite slowly in this seasons league campaign but finished strong in the knockout stages with wins against Offaly, Limerick and Tipperary in the final. They will be hungry for success in this seasons Championship after a disappointing summer of 2017. Kilkenny were beaten by Wexford in a Leinster Semi-final before losing out to Waterford in round two of the qualifiers; so they may not be the force of old but with Brian Cody at the helm, they will always be a threat.

Last year’s champions, Galway, are the obvious danger while it looks unlikely that Waterford will be able to reproduce their run to the final last year after a bitterly disappointing league campaign concluding with relegation to Division 1b after losing to Cork in the relegation playoff. Davy Fitz’s teams always have to be respected and Wexford are now playing very consistent hurling so are to be considered a player this year. The Munster trio of Cork, Clare and Limerick should give their usual showing while Dublin look set to struggle. Pat Gilroy will need to have transformed his charges after a poor Championship last summer, followed by a poor league showing which included a shock loss to Offaly in Croke Park. All in all, it should be another magnificent summer of GAA.

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